Protect What You Love: The Saltwater Collective

Protect what you love. The environment and the planet's oceans are important to everyone.
Why does it matter?

The ocean covers 72% of the Earth and supplies over half of our oxygen. It supports the greatest variety of life on Earth and generates hundreds of billions of dollars for the global economy. If properly regulated, it could provide more than 1 billion people with a healthy meal each day.

There are many alarming issues that are happening to our planet's oceans right now. This includes and is not limited to ocean acidification, overfishing, reefs and dead-zones, and overall pollution.
The ocean is the world's biggest carbon sinkholes. They absorb most of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and with this, ocean acidification occurs. The slightest changes in the ocean's pH balance can negatively affect the marine life and ecosystem. Many economies are dependent on fish and shellfish, and many people rely on food from the ocean. With that, 90% of the ocean's big fish have disappeared due to overfishing, and species of whales, sharks and other wildlife are going extinct at unprecedented rates.

In short, the ocean is a vital component to life on Earth, but we’re doing everything we possibly can to destroy them and this will only be to our own detriment!

This is an issue that affects everyone and it should be reminded in our communities. Focused on ocean conservation, The Saltwater Collective does just that. The Saltwater Collective is an up and coming Toronto-based clothing brand that strives to be more of a movement than a brand. Their mission is to bring the much-needed attention to our planet, most importantly our oceans.

“One at a time we’re reminding our communities that the ocean is relevant to everyone, whether you live in a big city or on the coast, the choices we make everyday matter.”

The brand also works with Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation. A portion of every sale supports Oceana’s efforts to protect and restore the oceans around the globe.

I had the pleasure to work with The Saltwater Collective this past November when they hosted a segment of the Queen's Business Forum on the Fashion Industry (Q'BFFI) Fashion Show, and personally meet the founders of the brand, Julie Flesch and Kelsey Davis. Their designs intersect the style of city chic with a beach soul. Make sure to check their full apparel and accessories collection on their website.

I loved the work both Julie and Kelsey are doing and decided to learn more about the company and brand. I was able to ask Julie a few questions about the brand and found the inside scoop to the amazing new things they are planning to do. They are making some serious waves and you’re about to find out how!
How do you plan to create The Saltwater Collective a movement and lifestyle in which people can be a part of? What are your future plans for expanding the company?

Now that we have started to gain momentum as a brand, we are looking to focus predominantly on cultivating a community of people who believe in improving our relationship with the oceans and environment. There's a number of ways we plan to do this, but the first is launching our blog filled with “eco-inspiration”. We will be writing features on various artists, activists, and athletes who are inspired by the oceans, lots of tips for reducing your impact on the oceans, bits of environmental news, and pieces about why the oceans are so important to us. We are also planning on hosting a number of events this year designed to raise awareness about the oceans, connect people in our communities, and offer hands-on opportunities for people to connect with our brand and participate in the conservation movement.

What advice can you give other entrepreneurs hoping to start their own company? How can they start a clothing brand but do it in an impactful way?

A piece of advice I received from a close friend was to tackle your dream in steps. You might have a big goal for your company such as designing a certain garment or hosting an event, but it is important to figure out the smaller goals you need to achieve before you start working on the big thing. Have a clear vision as to where you want to end up, but always remember to pace yourself. I think creating a clothing line is a really powerful vehicle for social change. Fashion and style are deeply personal, and what you wear can say a lot about who you are and what you believe in. There are a lot of really great ways to make an impact. For example, you can make your manufacturing and shipping process environmentally friendly or you can donate a portion of your sales to a non-profit organization. Beyond that, clothing lines can bring awareness to issues, cultivate a sense of community, and encourage consumers to think about what they value. For anyone looking to make an impact, I think you just need to find a cause that’s important to you and find out how you can use your line to change the way people think about that issue.

What are you inspired by when creating your designs?

We are definitely inspired by the concept of minimalism and the mix between urban and natural landscapes. The most important thing we try to communicate through our clothing is that whether you live near the coast or in a city, it doesn’t matter – we all have an impact on the ocean. There needs to be a change in consumption habits by people everywhere, so we want our movement and style to be relevant to both coastal and urban lifestyles.
If you could tell consumers one thing, what would it be?

We would want to emphasize that your choices as one singular person matter. You might think that your one disposable coffee cup a day is a drop in the ocean in terms of pollution, and you’d be right. But the statement you make by bringing your own travel cup to your favourite coffee spot, or to the gym, or saying “no” to plastic straws and bags is huge. It sends a message about your values and it influences social attitudes.

Your friends will start adopting the same habits, companies will emphasize their environmental values in order to gain your trust, and slowly, the ways and things we consume (or don't!) will change. It’s the same for the way we use energy, the kinds of seafood we eat, the value we place on environmental policies around election time, a whole host of things. You, by making better choices as an individual, give us all a hope of solving the climate change crisis and fixing our relationship with the environment.

I hope this post brought some awareness to our planet and ocean, and made you think about your contribution to it.

Join the movement and spread the word by sharing The Saltwater Collective on your social media platform!