Last week, I drove from Sudbury to Toronto to meet, photograph and interview Camilla, the mastermind behind The Saltwater Collective. The Saltwater Collective is a Toronto-based sustainable swimwear brand, producing women’s swimsuits out of recycled plastic from our oceans.
I met Camilla at Manic Coffee, a small coffee haven right around the corner from Kensington market. It’s also where Camilla is proud to call herself a regular.
Camilla was nice enough to sit down with me and answer some of my burning questions on ethical consumption, ocean conservation and the mission behind Saltwater. Here’s a snippet of our encounter.
Abigail: Describe yourself in 1-2 sentences!
Camilla: I am a Danish/Canadian who grew up in Vancouver, and I am excited about the possibilities that life has to offer. I try to take risks and live each day to the fullest!
A: We love what you’ve done with Saltwater. What propelled you to take on this company?
C: Thank you! Taking on Saltwater was a total risk and I think that a bit of naivete on my part helped me take the leap. I always knew that I wanted to build a business of my own, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be. I am very self motivated, and seem to get the best results when I put myself into ‘sink or swim’ situations (no pun intended haha). I was certain that I needed something different than my corporate 9-5 job so when the opportunity arose to carry this brand forward, I jumped right in.
A: Did ocean conservation and sustainability have any particular importance to you before you were looking into the prospect of taking over the brand?
C: Growing up right around the corner from the beach in Vancouver, the Ocean has always been a huge part of my life. I have always had a deep appreciation for nature and I grew up learning about ecosystems in the ocean, tidepools, and which species of kelp you could eat off the beach. Ocean conservation and sustainability were definitely topics of conversation before I started with Saltwater, but not to the same extent as they are now. I have taken a lot of time to educate myself (a never-ending process I might add) and I am now very invested in the issues and how fashion contributes to environmental degradation. My experiences and connection to the ocean add a lot of meaning to what I am pursuing through my business today.
A: We love that your products (and how you advertise them) complement women of all colours, shapes and sizes. Can you elaborate on the role brands should take in properly representing women?
C: Definitely! This is such an important topic for us. As you mention, key to our brand is celebrating real female figures and proudly conveying the many shapes, sizes and shades that our bodies come in. We find it problematic that only a small portion of the world can relate to the cookie-cutter models primarily showcased in the fashion industry – so many female body types and skin colours are underrepresented, or not represented at all. Brands like us have loud voices in society (often, louder than we think) that are shaping norms and ideals and it is our responsibility to use our voices and the platforms available to us to set a new standard and foster inclusivity.
A: Do you think ethical consumption is growing? How do you see brands, such as yours, excelling in the future?
C: I definitely think ethical consumption and awareness is growing, but we still have a long way to go. Accessibility seems to be a big barrier for consumers when it comes to making ethical choices. In many cases, ethical and sustainable brands are considered ‘premium’ and the issue of affordability can be inhibiting. The fast fashion industry has taught consumers to buy more clothes more often and this seems justifiable when the prices are so low. I think this is where the importance of education around the industry comes into play. When consumers become aware of the massive environmental and ethical problems associated with the fashion industry, one ethically produced quality shirt costing $50 becomes a lot more appealing than purchasing a $7 shirt every 2 weeks.
Educating our consumers and empowering them to make purchasing decisions that alter the norms of the industry and demand that ethical and sustainable practices become the standard will enable brands like Saltwater, and the planet to excel in the future.
A: From a social and environmental standpoint, do you think we, as consumers, have the power to shape industries?
C: Absolutely. Consumers vote with their wallets, and these votes are huge enablers for many industries. We are in a time where technology is advancing at such a rapid rate and as a result, we have the capabilities to create real change. The key is education, and now we have such easy access to information that there is no excuse for consumers not to engage and start educating themselves on why their choices matter.
To learn more about The Saltwater Collective visit, https://www.thesaltwatercollective.com or follow them on IG, @thesaltwatercollective.
– Abigail xo