Ethically made swimwear is hard to find, add into the mix being blessed with a larger than normal bust and it’s near impossible. Cecile Swim however, has made me excited for Summer and getting back out on my surfboard without the fear of a mishap.
They create consciously handmade swimwear that is both durable, and soft-to-touch. All of their pieces are made ethically, and it’s their goal to use raise awareness for ethics in fashion, as well as encouraging women to feel confident in the skin they’re in.
All of Cecile Swim’s pieces are produced in limited quantities, and the founder Charlotte often makes visits to where the swimwear is made to guarantee transparency, fair wages and that rights are met for all workers.
The founder, Charlotte, moved to Australia to pursue studies in Conservation Wildlife. It was during this that she became aware of the negative environmental impacts the fashion industry has on our planet. From the extensive use of plastic to toxic chemical runoffs into our oceans, Charlotte released that things needed to change in order for the earth to sustain the biodiversity that exists upon it. As Charlotte grew up initially in Singapore, she spend majority of her childhood years by the beach and engaging in water sports, so it was only natural that swimwear is where she became most drawn to make a change in.
The main aim of Cecile Swim since it began in 2017, is to provide a durable and high quality product using luxury fabric that has high ethical standards. I personally love my Cecile Swim piece, and cannot wait to get back out on the surfboard this summer with a brand that I know aligns with my personal values and keeps everything in place.
On top of offering a quality product that ensures ethical and fair rights are met throughout their entire production line, Cecile Swim donates a portion of their profit to Magical Light Foundation, which is a humanitarian foundation that focuses on lifting the disadvantaged out of poverty in place around Asia. Some of these projects including building schools/classrooms, and medical centres in rural parts of Asia.
Cecile Swim donates to the Magical Light Foundation as they believe that education is the root to solving our problems, and it’s something I couldn’t agree with more.
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Behind the Brand:
An interview with Charlotte Cheong, the founder of Cecile Swim.
What made you start Cecile Swim?
The idea of starting my own swimwear label sparked when I was 18 but I only created Cecile Swim at the age of 20 (I’m currently 21). I view creating my own swimwear label as part of expressing my own individuality and creativity. I love the idea of being able to grow and nurture a brand I can call mine and shape it to how I want it, such as its visions, values and beliefs.
The reason I chose swimwear is my love for the ocean. I grew up in Singapore where I spent my weekends by the pool or the beach and I also engaged in water-sports with my dad in my early teens which was something that always bonded us. One of the main reasons why I chose to move to Perth at age 17, was because of its beautiful beaches!
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
Time management. There is so much more than meets the eye when running a small business (especially with being a university student full-time). At the moment, Cecile Swim is pretty much a one-man show, other than manufacturing of the products, I’ve pretty much done everything else on my own – designing the products, quality control, website design, emails, accounts, online marketing and handling/postage amongst other stuff. However, at the end of the day, I’ve learnt so much since starting Cecile Swim and I cannot wait to continue to grow and learn together with my label.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'who made my clothes?'. In the scope of Cecile Swim, who made your swimwear? Can you tell us a bit about them?
All of Cecile Swim pieces are currently being made in a factory in Indonesia. I strongly support small factories which allows their tailors to work in an environment which they are comfortable in. Therefore, all of our pieces are produced in limited quantities and are paid fairly for. As the factory is based in Indonesia and Cecile Swim is based in Perth, Western Australia - this gives me the opportunity to be close by and make trips to the factory to guarantee transparency and that rights are met for all workers.
Why did you pick the fabrics or materials that you have chosen to work with?
The fabric that’s been used in the “Aries” range was sourced in the same city as the factory, this means saving on travel resources, as transport is often a big source of a company’s carbon foot print. This fabric is made to last and so are my designs - minimal and classic, which goes against the typical values of the fast fashion industry. More research is being done to improve our materials for my next range as I want to ensure that I’m providing the best products for my customers while living up to our sustainable and ethical values.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Believe in yourself and never give up!
Why was it important to you to make your brand ethical?
I feel that it is basic decency that people are paid fairly for the work they produce. I would not promote a label that exploits people for their efforts.
What is something others wouldn't know about starting an ethical business that you think they should?
A lot of research goes into creating an ethical product and business. I feel that creating an ethical business requires a lot of passion and dedication for the products as the production line is complex – more than you’d think. A lot of time and effort goes into ensuring every aspect of the product is at its best – from sourcing the materials to the tailoring and manufacturing of the products and even the marketing! Setting your realms of ethical is extremely important when planning out the values for your business, and sticking by it is equally crucial.
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Quitting is never an option. Remember why you started it in the first place and always follow your dreams, times will get tough and there will be moments when you may doubt yourself – when those moments arise, take a step back and breathe. Everything will be fine.
Where do you envision Cecile Swim in the future?
My dream is for Cecile Swim to continue growing and flourishing, while never losing sight of its values and to continue working towards its mission everyday - “Our mission is to use our label as a platform to raise awareness for sustainable and ethical fashion and bring about change for the environment, while encouraging girls to feel confident in the skin they are in”.
One documentary everyone should watch? Why?
“Daughters of Destiny” – this Netflix Original is based on a group of girls entering a school called the Shanti Bhavan school, a school for children in poverty. There, they are raised and educated by teachers and staff and empowered to change their families’ futures.
Aside from ensuring ethical and fair rights are met throughout our production line, portions of our profits are donated towards projects such as building of schools and classrooms. I strongly believe that education is the root to solving our problems thus, I feel that it’s incredibly important to contribute what we can to coming generations to educate them and empower them.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers our there in your world that you think people should know about?
My uncle, Ben Cheong – the founder and executive director of Magical Light foundation. Magical Light Foundation is a humanitarian foundation that focuses on lifting the disadvantaged out of poverty in places around Asia. Some of their projects include building schools, classrooms and medical centres in rural parts of Asia and assisting with community development. At any second of a day, a new school is being constructed.