Ocean Zen - Swimwear Making A Difference

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Ocean Zen, a fitting name for an amazing Sunshine Coast based swimwear brand that's helping keep our oceans clean! Today I bring you an interview with the brains behind Ocean Zen, Steph.

"OceanZen bikini represents a lifestyle that carefree, ocean loving mermaids can easily relate to.
It is the life of a girl who dwells between ocean and land, the gypsy that travels the earth, the ocean addict who thrives off ocean vibes, the barefoot wanderers who have more bikinis then bras and the yogis who are in search of zen.
We see the exquisite beauty in all living things, we take too many leaps of faith and we choose to take the road less travelled.  We smile, we laugh, we are fearless, we are wild at heart and we are water-born creatures."

Tell us a bit about your background and how Ocean Zen got its start?

My passion for the ocean and marine conservation is essentially what lead me to create OceanZen. In my early 20’s I decided I wanted more from life than working full-time in an office in Sydney. So I packed my bags and impulsively left Australia on a one way ticket, which resulted in a solo adventure abroad for 3 years.  I floated around the globe, from chilling in the middle of the Kruger Park in South Africa with elephants and leopards, to snowboarding mountain peaks in Whistler Canada, volunteering with orphans in Bali, buying a combie van in Colombia and driving it down South America and surfing world class waves in Costa Rica with countless other memories. But the chapter that really changed my life was spending a year in the Caribbean, on a little island in the Cayman Islands. I landed a job there working with Southern Atlantic Stingrays for eco-tourism. Part of my role was to dive down, lure the stingrays to the surface and hold them safely while tourists got their photos. The most INCREDIBLE experience.
I had discovered a deep connection with the ocean and marine animals. But I also learnt a lot about human threats. From this point on I wanted to learn more, and learn how I could help the ocean. I came home and enrolled into uni to study Environmental Science, which has also taken me back around the globe researching incredible animals like humpback whales, sharks, sea lions and coral reefs. The most incredible chapter was spending 4 months in the Galapagos Islands where I spent my days in the ocean playing with sea lions… for research of course.
All of this wasn’t enough though, I wanted to do more and learn more and help share this powerful message for marine conservation that was shared with be back in the Caribbean. I wanted to create my own sustainable something and OceanZen was born from my passion for sustainability. OceanZen raises awareness for marine conservation issue’s, supports a cleaner ocean by using fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean, and practices sustainability throughout the entire business model. The bikini’s are packed and sent to customers in recycled cardboard pillow boxes completely avoiding the use of plastic.
Plastic/marine debris is causing major issue’s for our ocean’s and the more businesses that choose sustainability, the stronger the message is to consumers to want to make a change.

What made you choose the name Ocean Zen?

Travelling and the ocean have always inspired me, both equally exciting my soul. When I was travelling Thailand, I had just spent the day snorkelling and was sitting on the deck of a yacht drifting along the coast, admiring the beautiful silky flat ocean surface.
I felt somewhat zen-ish at the time and the name came to me as if it jumped right out of the ocean. It could not be more true to what OceanZen bikini is today :)

Your brand has amazing sustainable values and using fabric made from recycled fishing nets and bottles is quite unique. How are these materials collected and what's the process like to then have a fabric become the end result?:

The fabric is really amazing and completely mind blowing that it is made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean. It is collected in the oceans around the USA, taken to their processing factory to be cleaned and shredded, then re-created into a yarn. That yarn is then shipped to Italy to be turned into a high quality italian lycra. The fabric is super soft and just awesome that it is sustainable.

What in your opinion, is the most important thing to look for in a sustainable fashion brand?  
I think two important things to look for; is do they support manufacturing in sweat shops and do they use plastic packaging. Branded plastic packaging is a joke, plastic can last up to 1000 years and will exist for multiple lifestyles. The amount of plastic being used by the world is very alarming, and 8 million tonnes of plastic goes into our oceans every year which is now entering our food chain.

Has being sustainable always been something you were interested in?I have learned a lot over the last 8 years, prior to that I was completely unaware of the effects plastic and waste was having on the environment and since my time in the Caribbean I have learned and adapted to a sustainable lifestyle as best I can.

How does being based on the Sunshine Coast influence your brand? The Sunny Coast is a lifestyle and a community of active, nature loving people. It’s been a great influence on OceanZen and the support has been amazing. 

What is your favourite piece in your collection?

Hmmm that’s a tough one, I love the palms set and the tide wrap set both equally as much 

How do you see your brand evolving in the future?:It’s definitely a goal to be stocked in more stores nationally and internationally, as well as run more whale-swim retreats to tonga. It’s absolutely magical to share this experience with our customers! This year has been amazing as I have been invited to guest speak at a couple of business events about sustainable business practices and my experience, so there is a possibility of exploring this more down the track as-well. 

What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own sustainable fashion brand?:
If you are truly passionate about something then go for it, start yesterday, but be prepared because it is a constant rollercoaster, ups and downs and highs and lows. Sometimes I feel like on the outside it might look easy, but it can be super challenging, and that’s why it’s really important to launch something you are passionate about because ultimately your passion is what will keep you hanging on by a thread sometimes when times are tough. It is really awesome though because more people are following their dream’s and breaking away from ‘the norm’ these days and there’s a whole community of change makers that will be ready to support your journey when you take the plunge!

Favourite Colour: 
Turqoise J
Favourite Food: 
Hmm that’s tough love Thai and love Mexican!!
Favourite Travel Destination:  Little bit biased but would have to say Cayman Islands
Favourite item in your wardrobe: 
Biggest Guilty Pleasure: 
Chocolate, all day everyday
Most Used App: 
Boring – my emails haha second to that Instagram!
Beauty Product you always run out of before anything else: 
Deodorant!! I’m actually going to try learn how to make it myself, plastic free this week. 
Where do you love to go for a night out: Love to go out for dinner on ocean street

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