In today’s interview, we caught up with Jessica Boynton, Founder of Hakuna Wear. She shared the story of why she started her sustainable swimwear brand, her mission, what inspires her on her journey, and advice on living more sustainably.
We hope you enjoy this interview — if you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section at the end!
Hello! Who are you, and what brand do you run?
Hey! I’m Jessica, Founder and Designer at Hakuna Wear.
We make innovative active swimwear to empower people in the water, or as we say “swimwear with no worries”.
To us no worries swimwear means sustainably made, surf tested, and with pockets, that make you feel and look good.
We make suits for the people that just want to get out there and have fun, so you get the full free feeling of the ocean and celebrate the diversity of surfing.
Pictured: Jessica Boynton, Photo by Alyssa Boynton
What inspired you to create Hakuna Wear?
Hakuna Wear began in 2018 after going on my first tropical surf trip. I went on scooter rides and boat trips where I didn’t have a pocket to bring money or our hotel key and I kept losing my bottoms in the surf. I felt pretty unempowered by my bikini and wanted to change that.
When I researched the market and what was out there, I couldn’t find anything that had all the things I was looking for. Every piece we design is made with both fashion and function in mind.
What inspires me now is our customer. When someone finally finds that suit they were looking for, helping them feel ready for any adventure, it makes all the long hours worth it.
Pictured: The Rainbow Warrior collection. Photo by Soren Heil.
What were the main challenges and learnings you had when starting Hakuna Wear?
There have been so many challenges and learnings, and it is such a competitive market.
I think my biggest challenge now is trying to be efficient about money spent — we are still a small brand and don’t want to over-extend, which wouldn’t be sustainable, but we also want to get the word and name out there as much as possible.
It’s easier to market a product when you have one problem that it solves. It’s not as easy when a product solves all of the problems, because then you have to choose one to focus on.
How do things compare today to when you first started?
When we began it was definitely figuring out manufacturing, and where was going to be the best solution for us, including matching our values.
I have learned that when in doubt, reach out. I try to reach out to mentors and people as much as possible. People love to help and entrepreneurs are all aware of the struggle.
In your eyes, what’s the biggest achievement or milestone so far?
Last year we were chosen to be a part of Title Nine’s Movers and Makers Pitchfest. It was a huge honor and milestone to be included in their cohort of badass women. We made our pitch and were chosen as Runners up.
Check out our pitch below:
How do you ensure Hakuna Wear stays true to your mission as you grow?
Our official mission statement is “To empower people to let go of their worries in the ocean no matter what color, gender, religion, etc. you identify with. Hakuna Wear designs suits that allow you to be free to be you and celebrate the diversity of surfing.”
For us sustainability is a part of that because it means taking care of your community and the planet we live together on.
Pictured: The Ohia Lehua Collection. 10% of proceeds go to save the native Hawaiian tree. Photo by Kiori Lee
What do you think are the main challenges around sustainability today?
Sustainability to us means taking care of your community in all of its facets. There is a lot of green washing and misinformation and it can sometimes be hard to see through it as a business owner and a consumer.
I try to be as honest as possible: the fashion industry does cause waste and there is no truly eco-friendly swimwear brand.
How do you approach these challenges on a day-to-day basis?
There are things that we can do to help our resources last as long as possible, and we try to focus on those things we can control on a day to day basis, such as:
- Reusing or up-cycling materials
- Reducing impact/waste by doing small batch products
- Having a program to fix suits that are broken to keep them lasting longer.
We also give back a portion of profits to environmental and community groups, and we’re part of several community sustainable networks to help us learn and grow from others.
Pictured: We host a weekly free coffee and surf meet up, here we are doing a beach clean up instead of surfing since there was a storm.
Do you have any advice for people looking to be more sustainable in their habits and lifestyles?
Definitely! There are so many resources to help, including Ecothes!
My biggest piece of advice is to not let guilt consume you. Pick a couple of things that you know are easy to fit into your lifestyle, and stick with them. See how it makes you feel, and then slowly add others in if you feel up to it.
If you try to do everything at once, it’s like going on a diet — you create a feeling of guilt and a feeling of sacrificing that can cause unneeded stress and be hard to stick to. You are a human and you’re going to create waste and environmental impact just by living, just try to do your best.
What’s the best sustainable product you’ve purchased or tried in the past year?
This was the year of loungewear! So, I bought some leggings from Pact and some joggers from Vuori. I love them both because they are sooo comfortable, functional, and cute, and they are both from companies that value sustainability.
What does the future look like for your brand?
The goal of Hakuna Wear is to be a swimwear brand by the people, for the people. We want to build our community and have our customers designing swimwear.
That way we can continue doing small batches and know that we aren’t creating excess or something our customers don’t want.
How are surfing and sustainability connected?
Without the ocean, surfing is dead and we are dead. The ocean is the essence of the amazing life on this planet and we need to protect it. We have already done so much damage. We protect our ocean loving community by protecting our oceans that we all love through sustainable fashion and empowerment.
Pictured: Goofing around in the Aloha Shirt Rash Guard. Photo by Elyse Quartini.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is all about community.
It’s a full lifecycle from the fabric, to the people manufacturing, to how the business is run and how we treat our customers. Our goal is to have a plan for our product from beginning to end and all the people that touch it.
Thank you to Jessica for taking time out of her day to share her story with us.
If you’d like to learn more about her story, or check out Hakuna Wear’s range of eco-friendly swimsuits, make sure to visit HakunaWear.com!