Between the War On Waste series and the Ban The Bag campaign now implemented in Coles and Woolies, I’m sure you’re all somewhat aware about the impact single use plastic is having on our environment and wildlife.
What’s often overlooked is in this discussion is that plastic also makes up a large part of our wardrobes. Rain Jackets, exercise gear, spandex and your beloved swimwear amongst many other items are generally made from polyester. Polyester is a synthetic fabric made from petroleum which doesn’t biodegrade, it just breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastic.
While scientists now predict there will be more plastic in the ocean then wildlife by 2050, there’s some epic businesses coming up with innovative ways to reuse what is already in the system to create products that could easily enter your hands for the style they hold, without the backstory. One of these is Baiia.
Baiia is a Brisbane based swimwear label that has it’s heart firmly set on the idea that one can have a product that is stylish, yet doesn’t do harm to both people and the planet. Every swimsuit is made ethically, meaning there’s no child labour involved and everyone who works there is paid a living wage. What’s more is that each swimsuit is created using waste from the ocean such as ghost fishing nets and water bottles.
To top it off, every swimsuit is reversible meaning that you get two for the price of one and can mix and match multiple styles. Saving your dollars and the environment? Count me in.
I recently spoke with Amber, the founder of Baiia, about her start-up journey this far and what it takes to create a sustainable and ethical business in today’s world.
1. What is something others wouldn’t know about starting a sustainable business that you wish they did?
Price point is a big one. We’re all so use to buying great looking clothes at crazy cheap prices, and so to ask most people to pay a premium on goods that are of high quality, made ethically and sustainably, they understandably think “why should I?”, and that can make it really hard for a small, sustainable business to grow.
It all comes down to education around how much it costs to produce fairly, as well as the absolute power the consumer has with their wallet. A lot of people feel helpless.. they don’t think they can help make the world a better place, but once people understand that change goes where the money flows, people will start taking advantage of that power for good.
2. Why did you pick the fabrics you have chosen to work with?
To create virgin nylon (the predominate fabric used in swimwear) you have to extract non-renewable oil from the earth and process it into a fabric. I didn’t want to have to increase the demand of oil drilling just so I could design and sell swimwear, especially when there are recycled alternatives that make use of the resources we already have that would otherwise be discarded.
When you know that the production of virgin nylon emits nitrous oxides (a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than co2), it seems crazy not to choose the alternative, recycled route.
3. What has been the most challenging thing you have encountered since beginning Baiia?
Honestly, it’s trying to figure out what to do and having the confidence to do it. Running a business is sometimes like learning how to walk up a spiral staircase blindfolded.. while simultaneously navigating your way up multiple other different staircases with no idea if they’ll even lead anywhere. But you do it anyway. Every day is a challenge and it drives you crazy, but if you understand you’re not alone and that this is all a normal part of the journey, you’ll push through it.
4. One tip you’d give to others who are wanting to start their own business within the sustainability space?
Try not to take anything too personally. At the beginning of your business, it’s going to feel very raw – like a newborn baby that you’ve literally just manifested into being – so it’s hard not to take things to heart.. that’s natural, but if you can overcome it quickly you won’t be held back in getting yourself out there faster.
We were lucky enough to get a discount for you if you’d like your own Baiia. Use STARTUP10 at checkout for 10% off and free shipping.