The beauty of being yourself
Co-founder Fiona Ryn about building up Bower
»It’s great to be recognized for what we are doing.«
When did you decide to found Bower and how did you meet Rupert?
I met Rupert in London in 2012. We’re both from the same place in a beach town near Sydney. So, when we met in London, we found out that we grew up literally around the corner from each other, which is quite nice. We started because I had been working in fashion for years on the wholesale and PR side and I always wanted to start something on my own.
And by that time Rupert and I met, especially in the UK, there were no brands at all, who came up with the style I like. The options were really limited, either high street brands or really expensive ones. Rupert’s background is advertising, photography and graphic design and mine is PR and sales. Combine those two together and you can start a brand. But we didn’t go straight to having a brand, of course (smiles).
Does each of you have your own role or do you do everything together?
We definitely do a lot separate. I run the company day to day in every way and Rupert because he does have another career as a photographer, he just comes in more when needed to help. On some of the creative decision making when we’re doing designs or prints or selecting color palettes, for example.
Your brand is around since 2015. What were the first years like for you?
When you start any small brand without a big investment it’s always tricky. Every sale you did, every money earned went straight back into the business. You start to navigate and to figure out what to do next. Especially back then because e-commerce just didn’t exist the way it does now.
We were able to partner with some really great stores to help us get off the ground. Plus, back then the industry was in its really early stages of ethical production. It still was really small, but we were able to find a lot of recycled fabrics and really interesting new technologies coming that it felt like we could do something a bit different. It was an exciting time. We were trying to do something right with really little.
Has your personal idea of beauty changed or evolved over time?
I definitely think it has. When I was in high school the idea of beauty was all about really skinny models and now it really is about embracing all kinds of bodies and shapes and being proud of yourself.
What inspires you today?
Honestly, at the moment, with things happening globally, sometimes it is hard to feel inspired and just design a swimwear collection. But usually, I’m always really inspired by vintage fashion, by movies, magazines and art.
Where do you manufacture and what criteria do you use to select your suppliers?
It’s all in Italy. We’ve been working with the same factory in Rimini now for four years. It’s a really small team and they also really believe in ethical production. They’re really great to work with and have been super supportive to us, especially as a small business, because we’re definitely the smallest they have, I guess (smiles). They are using the Econyl yarn, a 100% regenerated nylon yarn derived from pre- and post-industrial waste such as discarded fishing nets. So, they are the perfect partner to work with.
Since 2019 your brand supports the Healthy Seas Initiative. Would you like to tell us a little bit about that?
I discovered the HSI actually through the creators of Econyl. They were established with the aim to remove waste, in particular fishing nets, from the seas for the purpose of creating healthier oceans and recycling marine litter into textile products. So, we are closing the loop and donate 1% of all orders to the great team of the Healthy Seas Initiative.
What does the future hold for your brand?
Well, apart from moving to Berlin and settling there, for us, the real aim is to break into Australia. We’re really focused on growing our brand there. After COVID it was a really difficult period and we will focus on going back to what we like, which is working with artists and friends and doing things that make us happy rather than worrying all the time.
By the way, we are currently also pleased about being amongst the finalists for the sustainable brand of the year award by the Drapers Magazine. It’s up against some much bigger and more experienced brands. So, whether we win or not, that will help us to get some awareness and it’s great to be recognized for what we are doing.
Let’s go back to where everything started: you pack your bag for a perfect day at the beach. What goes in it and what is your favourite beach to spend that perfect day?
I would pack one or two of our one-piece-suits and at least one bikini, our Katia dress for example, sun cream with SPF 50 of course, a bottle of Rosé and a book.
One of my favourite beaches is on the French Atlantic coast. It’s the Plage Marbella in Biarritz. A very small beach with perfect waves and mostly locals. And you can get a drink afterwards in a nice little shack bar on the top (smiles).