From a Corporate world to building my own children's swimwear business – Jody and Lara
Launching a girls cover-up UPF50+ swimwear range | Jody and Lara

Launching a girls cover-up UPF50+ swimwear range

After almost 25 years in clothing retail I have finally taken the opportunity to start my own clothing brand. It's funny these ideas you have when you drift off at the computer screen some days. You think " Yeah, this will happen one day, I just got to do this first...", but you get caught up in the day to day, and you forget about it, and focus on the next meeting, or the next email, document, spreadsheet, phone call. And I was just the same, there was always something else which seemed more important. 

Long before I left my corporate world, I had found that when I was shopping for swimwear for my two eldest girls who at the time were 6 and 7 years old, I would become frustrated with the lack of swimwear choice.  I wasn't a big fan of putting my girls in a tankini, bikini or a high cut one piece swimming costume. I wanted more cover up to protect their skin from the harmful UV rays in sunlight.  I was also conscious of putting my girls into societies acceptance of a gender stereotype. I wanted clothing which supported a positive body image something similar to their brother's swimwear choices, something comfortable and practical. 

So with a hope that I might be creating something that other parents would want too, I decided to start a childrens swimwear range; swimwear I knew my girls would wear. It allowed me to design and develop a range of swimwear for girl's and boys at primary school age for just playing outside, in the pool, at the beach. I would have swimming costumes in the range both my girls and my son could wear, mix and match items so you could create your own look. The swimwear would of course be UPF 50+, I had been aware for many years of long term UV damage to skin and links to skin cancer later in life, and I wanted to protect their skin as much as possible while still allowing them the freedom to enjoy the outside. So I made the shorts longer in the leg and the tops longer in the body, to give good coverage from the sun when swimming or playing - even if you touch your toes the top is long enough so you will not expose your back. And yes it provides modesty, a positive body image while leaving children free to have fun in the sun!

As the idea grew and I built the swimwear ranges, the brand began to evolve and  "Jody + Lara" was born.  I have taken my values of sustainability and ethics, and built them into the brand from the offset. It was important for me to know that I have a low CO2 impact, that I use waste in my raw materials instead of producing more virgin materials; that the people in my supply chain are treated fairly, are paid well, and I'm not exploiting cheap labour. I have seen sustainability and ethics at logger heads with the commercial heads in business, but I have also seen leading brands like Patagonia doing the right thing for the environment and the people who produce their product, so I knew it was possible, and I wanted to ensure the integrity of the brand by having these values from the beginning.

The fabric is made from plastic bottles, post consumer waste. It is a more expensive fabric than the conventional, but I believe I should provide product with the values we wish to uphold built in. The fabric is printed and not dyed. Dyeing fabric is a huge environmental challenge not just the chemicals used, but how they disposed of them after they have been used. And the energy required to heat large bodies of water to a very high temperature to dye the fabric is huge. Printing the fabric reduces all these environmental factors hugely, so again better for the environment. And the garments are cover-up UPF50+ swimwear for girls and boys aged 4-11 years. Protecting kids from the sun, and allowing children to have safe fun in the sun! 

I believe this is the best swimwear on the market for all the reasons I've discussed. I know it is difficult to trust a new brand. But please trust me there is no better swimwear for the planet, for the people who made it, for the child that wears it. This brand will be aligned with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and I will continue to deliver the most sustainable products on the market. Lx