Sirensong Wetsuits: A Brand that Crushed Crowdfunding and Invented a New Category for Confident Women
Aloha from Hawaii! Jamie DeFay Collins is the creator and driving force behind Sirensong Wetsuits. The company is growing and evolving quickly – in the last year alone she expanded beyond their online boutique and now has distribution channels in Switzerland and Poland and is carried in stores in France and Japan, as well as the Hawaiian Islands. Jamie leverages innovation as her biggest product differentiator: her gorgeous wetsuits are a far cry from the standard black version that can be unflattering, uncomfortable, and until now an overlooked item for surf attire.
Jamie plans to produce relatively small runs of each pattern and color, knowing it will help to drive demand and keep the suits unique. Learn how she is building a strong foundation for her new business and what a focus on quality and style can do for a company’s competitive advantage.
Hubba: What inspired you to launch Sirensong Wetsuits?
Jamie DeFay Collins: I grew up in California and learned to sew when I was a little girl (thanks, Mom!). I graduated with a B.S. in Design and big dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but like so many people do, I got sidetracked from my dream and headed down a different career path, in the environmental field.a
As newlyweds, my husband and I moved to Hawaii to plant our roots on the beautiful, inspiring north shore of Oahu. And after 14 years of developing a professional career as an environmental consultant, I found myself searching for an outlet for the creativity and passion inside of me. Fortunately, I found my calling in the right place, at the right time, and with a great support system to help me make the transition. Creating this business is the most exciting, challenging, all-encompassing undertaking of my life. I’m full steam ahead!
H: As a relatively new business, how do you set about targeting and reaching out to your target market? Who is the Sirensong Woman?
JDC: The growth of the business has been primarily through word of mouth and via social media. Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are where we started getting noticed, but things really kicked off when I ran a crowdfunding campaign in June of 2014. The campaign was an effective way to not only raise start-up capital, but to build excitement for the brand and spread the word.
The Sirensong Woman is a poised, confident individual – she’s not trying to blend in with the masses. She’s drawn to and appreciates beautiful things. She has an adventurous soul and she loves to play, especially in the water. We have surfers, divers, kitesurfers, windsurfers, stand-up paddlers, wakesurfers, snorkelers, and open water swimmers wearing our wetsuits.
H: What inspired you to introduce a premium line of wetsuits? Were there advantages to your brand in using eco-friendly materials in your particular industry?
JDC: Our premium line uses Yamamoto neoprene, which is a limestone-based, more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based neoprene. And we use only eco-friendly paints and processes when designing our Signature Collection wetsuits. It’s more expensive to use these materials, but the payoff is worth it. Being in the environmental field for so long, I cultivated a heightened awareness of the need for pollution prevention, sustainability, and waste reduction. Our customers really appreciate buying from an eco-conscious business; after all, they spend their time in the water and know full well the importance of a clean environment.
H: Tell us about your design/manufacturing process?
JDC: The wetsuits are designed by me, here in Hawaii. I’ve done everything from developing the patterns and making fully custom wetsuits here in my workshop, to creating custom fabrics and patterns for factory production. We have a line of ready-to-wear wetsuits, and we have our Signature Collection wetsuits, which are essentially factory-produced templates that are then customized and finished with screen- or sublimation-printing that I do here in my workshop.
H: How do you come up with and what are your reasons behind your silhouettes?
JDC: Sirensong’s wetsuits are specifically designed to accentuate and compliment the female form. I spent a lot of time researching and experimenting with silhouettes to find what works. I use color blocking and cuts that enhance the hourglass shape. Traditional wetsuits are rarely flattering and only begrudgingly worn when absolutely necessary. Our suits are designed to be the antithesis of that: a beautiful suit that maintains functionality and purpose. Our tagline, “she wore it because she wanted to,” reflects this unlikely outcome. Sirensong offers a wetsuit that you actually want to put on because it is stylish, sexy, flattering, and comfortable!
H: Why was it important to inject an art aspect into your work?
JDC: This is such a fundamental part of Sirensong. Our pieces are unique and I never want that to change. Before wetsuits, I was painting on canvas, and I carried that over by painting on wetsuits. Keeping it arsty keeps the styles fresh and sets us apart. New suits are coming at the end of May and we are so excited to launch the latest collection!
H: Why the focus on wetsuits primarily? Do you you plan to expand?
JDC: Wetsuits will always be our core product, but yes, we do plan to add some swimwear into the mix. It’s so easy to get sidetracked with the multitude of products I’d love to make, but I believe it’s important that for now, we stay focused on making the best wetsuits we can and really refining and learning how to do that. I envision gradually adding in complementary products, which will expand our market and make us accessible to even more customers. For example, we have a rash guard that we are getting ready to launch, which will have a significantly lower price point than the wetsuits and can we worn in warmer seasons and climates. Similarly, I look forward to eventually offering full suits so that those in colder climates can wear Sirensong too.
Connect with Jamie at Sirensong Wetsuits on Hubba and view their beautiful products!
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