To celebrate World Water Day on the 22nd March we caught up with Natalie Glaze, eco-influencer and ocean activist to discuss why we should be cleaning beaches and buying sustainably.
Hi Natalie! What’s a typical day in the life for you?
As a start-up founder there isn’t really a typical day as you wear so many hats. Some days you can be at the factory, other days running a shoot, other days working from home or from a coffee shop. I always try and have a bit of a morning routine however it helps me focus. But I think one of the best things about my work is how varied it is, never gets boring.
What was your first experience with ethical fashion?
It’s been a slow but surely journey, I went to Bali about 4 years ago now and saw the devastation of plastic on the oceans and it broke my heart. I came back and remember reading up on ocean plastic, sustainability and in turn reducing waste. I think this is wear my experience with more ethical sustainable fashion began, I slowly started buying less and buying better, focusing on sustainable materials where I could. Once you start learning about the effects of fast fashion it’s hard to go back.
What made you want to start your own swimwear brand?
Both Zanna (my co founder) and I have a mutual love for the ocean, we connected while discussing the horrors of ocean plastic and wanting to be a part of the solution to this problem. We both love swimwear and saw an opportunity to use it as a force for good, turning threat into thread.
What was the process of founding Stay Wild Swim?
We were catching up over brunch and our love for the ocean and swimwear, and then the conversation turned to how we both would love to launch a sustainable brand. It kind of snowballed very quickly and what started as a casual chat turned into a business very quickly. There was never an official plan or moment when the business came together. More of a…thats a great idea, why don’t we test it out and make it up as we go along kind of vibe. Sometimes the best plan is one where you just dive right in and hope for the best.
What lessons did you learn from the process?
Feel like I am constantly learning if I am honest, I don’t think that ever stops haha. Some of the biggest lessons I have learned have been that – nobody knows what they are doing we are all making this up haha. It makes life easier when you realise everyone is winging it. Another lesson I have learned is community is everything, people are always willing to help and it can make you feel less alone.
How do you think sustainable brands can help close the fashion loop?
Circular fashion is something we as a brand aim for, our long term goal is to create swimwear which can be recycled indefinitely and it’s an incredible thing to be able to do. The technology isn’t quite there yet for swimwear but it’s something we are working on and think all brands should be thinking about. But actually circular fashion comes in many elements and there are some great first steps you can do towards a more circular economy. For us we make sure we promote buying less but better, taking a slow fashion approach so not producing new collections regularly we add as and when we need and do smaller stock runs to minimise any wastage. We upcycle factory offcuts into tshirts and use deadstock fabric where we can in our swimwear. I think it’s about being mindful, reducing waste and upcyling where you can.
How do you make sure you shop, wear and live ethically?
Nobody is perfect and I think it’s about making the changes where you can, even if they are small changes they should be celebrated. For me I buy less but better, I shop sustainable or second hand (love a bit of depop). I try and support small businesses which in turn will support ethical supply chains. I make sure I make more planet friendly choices, always carry my reusables, eat more vegetables, reduced my flying. Since launching Stay Wild I am constantly learning about the impacts our choices have on the planet and it’s a journey.
What was your first experience that got you interested in ocean activism?
I think I always had a love for the ocean, I grew up near the coast, I have always loved swimming, snorkelling, just watching the waves it was my happy place. I think seeing first-hand the effect of plastic pollution in our oceans broke my heart. It was then I decided I wanted to create a brand that made a difference.
How can people get involved in ocean activism?
In many ways, there are some great charities and initiatives out there including – Surfers Against Sewage, Sea Shepherd, there is a great initiative called 2 minute beach clean which encourages you to pick up rubbish for just 2 minutes, showing that you can make a big difference in a small amount of time. Or you can do your own beach clean each time you visit. We have loads of blogs and articles on Stay Wild which give great tips and tricks to make great sustainable swaps, some great charities and how you can make a difference.
What small changes have you made in your day to day life that have made a big difference?
I think small things like bringing a reusable coffee cup and water bottle everywhere I go, I always have reusable cutlery in my bags and carry tote bags with me so I can avoid single use plastic such as bags, water bottles etc. Making sure I get my veg loose at my shop, trying to shop local as much as possible. These are all things that might not seem like much but are easy to implement and make a big difference.
Click here to check out Natalie’s swimwear brand, Stay Wild Swim.