Sustainability in Workplace Culture and Product Design
Sensi Graves, the professional kiteboarder turned entrepreneur, founded a line of swimsuits that are functional, fabulous, and now, use 100 percent recycled fabrics. Just as important, Graves has also cultivated a sustainable, transparent, and ethical work environment, built of and for strong, empowered women.
In 2012, after growing frustrated with losing her string bikinis in the surf, the professional kiteboarder Sensi Graves launched her eponymous swimwear label, Sensi Graves Bikinis. Determined to design suits that stay on in rough conditions and look great, Graves also wanted her brand to be the most ethical, transparent, and sustainable swim line around. As such, she has built sustainability into her all-female workplace, fostering a collaborative environment in which all voices are heard and respected.
“I’ve learned a lot about how to become a boss and it all stems from communication,” says Graves. “The greater communication we have, in every aspect of our business, the more our values of sustainability are able to be heard and felt.”
Today, Sensi Graves Bikinis has 18 team members and numerous brand ambassadors from around the world, all strong women that live their lives outdoors and test all designs before they go to market. The swimsuits have a democratic fit, offering coverage and flattering a full spectrum of body types. Water sports, and sports in general, tend to me a male-dominated industry, and Graves wanted her company to combat that norm by developing a brand created by women for women.
“The question of inequality in kiteboarding is a big one because we’ve just recently seen a shift towards equal prize money in some of our larger competitions,” says Graves. “However, women still don’t see as much media representation, we have less support from sponsors and, probably the most disheartening part: There are still plenty of male athletes that don’t think we should have equal prize money. Overall though, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of support and love from the kiteboarding industry.”
Sensi Graves Bikinis also provides customers with actionable tools to uplevel their thinking and build confidence; the company serves as a platform for women to be heard and feel empowered, eschewing photoshop and cultivating a set of role models. For Graves, a sustainable culture is built from the bottom up.
“I believe that sustainability in workplace culture is crucial for having an effect on our overall culture,” says Graves. “It is the company’s responsibility to educate, step up to make change, and encourage employees to take the steps toward reduced waste and greater green initiatives. It’s not just about changing out your light bulbs, it’s holding people accountable for their actions and encouraging them to think about their decisions outside of work as well as inside of it.”
In 2020, the company will double down on its sustainability efforts, transitioning to all recycled fabrics made from reclaimed fishing nets and recycled plastic bottles. Manufacturing is hard on the planet, and Sensi Graves Bikins is committed to producing bikinis in the most sustainable manner possible stateside, to protect the planet and local jobs, all while inspiring others to do the same.
On September 30, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the transition and by supporting it, patrons can vote with their dollar and secure one of the 2020 swimsuit designs at a discounted price. Already, the campaign has exceeded its original $15,000 flexible goal and with the additional funds procured so far, will add 2XL sizing. Should the brand reach its stretch goal of $35,000, it will introduce a sun protection line.
Learn more about where every single part of the bikinis are sourced from and support the continued use of compostable hygienic liners, polybags, labels, and hangtags, as well as the brand’s ability to donate 1% of sales to environmental groups and to offset its carbon footprint.
At Camber Outdoors, we are committed to a sustainable culture by way of offering our employees flexible hours and an all-remote office. Camber Outdoors mission is to increase workplace equity in the active-outdoors industries. Thank you to CEOs like Sensi Graves who have joined us as a corporate partner and are committed to creating a company culture that embodies this.