I humbly apologize for missing last month. But hey, I think this segment is timely. Today is the first day of the summer solstice and International Surfing Day. A day to be aware of preserving our oceans, embracing our relationship to nature and spirituality… and wearing sexy bikinis that won’t fall off as you catch that surf break. Having the same dread swimming or snorkeling, there have been numerous times I feared losing my dignity and my bikini. Christy Woodrow of OT Surf hopes to change that through an inventive design and her love of the environment, by manufacturing at the local level.
Q: Big concepts at play here: surfing and your love of the environment, how does that translate into creating a swimsuit line for women?
A: Living in San Diego and traveling often to surf in warm water waves means that I spend a lot of time in a bikini. I started to notice that I was spending tons of money and energy trying to find a swimsuit that didn’t cause me to moon the entire beach. After trying many different bikinis that didn’t fit the bill, I came up with an idea, so we set out to learn how to turn our idea into a product.
Q: What materials did you source to create the product?
A: We use a nylon/spandex material, swimwear lining and of course, elastic. It’s not all about the materials though, it’s important how the bikinis are constructed. We use a combination of stretchy and non-stretchy materials to create a balance between comfortable and secure.
Q: Did you have fashion design or sewing experience before?
A: I have not sewn anything since Home Economics class in junior high, but I have always been a creative person and more importantly, a perfectionist. These two things have proved to be invaluable for this type of business. I’m just a girl with a dream and a passion for creating something that adds value to other people’s lives. I really believe that where there is a will, there is a way.
I tell my friends and family that all of the money we have spent on this bikini line can be considered schooling. Real life experience is often times more valuable than years inside a classroom.
Q: You were a successful travel blogger and photographer before starting OT Surf, how much has the free-spirited mentality played into your decision to start a business?
A: Why, thank you. Well, my nomadic nature tends to make me feel nervous if something is tying me to one place. I have quieted a lot of my fears by researching ways that we can run this business from anywhere in the world. Once I realized that it doesn’t have to tie me down is when I think I made a full commitment to seeing this business succeed.
Q: Is taking the locally made route challenging? Cost-wise or logistics? As so many companies do use cheap, foreign labour (Naomi Klein’s book No Logo comes to mind).
A: Yes! One of our biggest frustrations has been manufacturing locally. The textile industry has moved overseas over the years, so finding skilled workers in our immediate area has proved to be a challenge. After over a year of searching, we have finally found a good group of people who create quality work and have the experience needed for producing this type of clothing.
Q: Were you scared putting yourself out there and starting a venture like this? How did you mute those negative voices?
A: In the beginning it was extremely tough to ignore the negative thoughts and outspoken naysayers. The fear of failure had often entered my mind, but the fear of regret always won. I guess sometimes fears can be a positive thing.
The good news is that it gets easier as time goes on. Now the thought of failure doesn’t even cross my mind. I’m just enjoying the journey, bad days and all.
Q: Do you think more women are listening less to convention and doing things like walking across America, visiting countries they were warned not to travel to or opening their own businesses based on doing what they love?
A: Absolutely. I’m continually inspired by other women’s stories and courage to try new and scary things.
Q: What current and future direction will OT surf take?
A: Once we get our first round of production finished, we want to add other items to the store such as hooded-sweatshirts, more t-shirt designs and possibly yoga pants. Summer won’t last forever (unfortunately) and we hope to make OT Surf more than just bikinis.
Inspiring interview; inspiring person. An important lesson here is ride the fear of your dreams, for once you do, options are limitless. Christy Woodrow’s perseverance proves that. And I must say, those bikinis please the surfing gods and the human eye. Beautiful.
Christy Woodrow is a surfer, photographer, entrepreneur and a travel enthusiast. She and her boyfriend, Scott, founded Ordinary Traveler, an inspiring travel blog where they provide tips to others who want to fulfill their dreams of travel. You can find them on Facebook or view their travel photography portfolio. To learn more about their sports and surf bikinis that stay put, check out OT Surf.
Chicks Conquering the World is a monthly series about women overcoming the odds or doing unique and different things. If you’d like to be featured or want to nominate someone, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.