Winki Suits was born out of a necessity for functional, timeless and ethically-produced surf suits. Both Kip and myself were at our wits end with surfing and swimming in suits that would either wedgie up the bottom or fall down (or completely off in one instance!). We struggled to find a brand of suits that were functional, but also looked cool. This led us, as two twenty-three year olds, to having many ‘what-if’ conversations around starting a brand that could create the perfect suit. Even if it would just be for us and our friends to wear. Both of us were passionate about the ocean, people and vintage-inspired fashion and after many hours of designing and creating, our first-ever Penny suit was born.
Fast forward a few months and we were looking at manufacturing options. We both really wanted to create more than just another swimwear business. We wanted the manufacturing of our products to make a significant difference to the livelihoods of those who would be making them and create products that were environmentally sustainable.
There were times when we were faced with the option to produce our suits quickly and cheaply with global manufacturers, but we knew this wouldn’t create the purpose-driven business that we had desired. After praying about who to partner with, we were both led through different connections, to the same lady who runs The Blessed Project in the Philippines. The Blessed Project rescue women and children from human-trafficking, giving them a second chance at life through rehabilitation, a lot of love, a stable home and meeting their basic needs. Part of the women’s rehabilitation is learning to sew, as it’s a form of therapy and is also a way the women can earn an income while they decide what they want to do next. In 2018, The Blessed Project were searching for a business to partner with them so they could have enough work to teach the women to sew, as well as earn an income to support their costs. We jumped at the opportunity and knew it was meant to be. Now, I’d be lying if I said everything had been hunky dory since then. We’ve faced many challenges (and still do to this day). We were new to business and swimwear, the women were new to sewing, we had a language barrier and together we were trying to create the ideal surf-suit. Safe to say, things didn’t go as planned and there were many laugh or you’ll cry moments. After about 16 months of back and forth, we created our first ever wearable, functional product. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. Despite the ongoing challenges, seeing the Blessed Project grow as we have, has been one of our greatest joys and rewards.
So what’s happened now, three years into running Winki Suits? Well, we’ve seen exponential growth and are so thankful for each and every woman who purchases our products. We wouldn’t be able to do what we love and support The Blessed Project without our customers and our amazing community of women. In 2022, we faced a few tough business decisions which meant we had to bring the majority of our suit-production onshore here to Australia, where our suits are now ethically made by a local, family-run manufacturer. However, we continue to support The Blessed Project financially through wages and sponsorships and they continue to produce 100% of our apparel and accessories. We’re so excited about this, as we’ve got some really exciting new products launching this year which the team are currently working on. Sustainability has been a big drive for us with these products and we’ve sourced high quality organic cotton and natural dyes, which will mean a higher cost price per product. But, to wear and produce something that is completely ethically and sustainably made brings us a lot of satisfaction. Our Bonnie suits are also made from recycled nylon and we use zero plastic from start to finish in the manufacturing of our products - including our compostable e-commerce postage bags.
We hope this gives you a glimpse into who we are as a brand and a business and what we stand for. We have realised the impact that Winki can have on people’s lives and the planet and we’re constantly trying to improve what we do. We count it as an absolute privilege to create a product that some people wear whilst having some of life’s most rich experiences in nature.
Written by @winkisuits (IG)