Ethical, Sustainable & Australian Made Swimwear
That Caters for Curves
Lyndal Sterenberg spent her days developing marketing strategies, training and engagement plans for professional services businesses such as law, engineering and accounting firms. That is, until she happened upon an idea for stylish rashies that met some long unaddressed needs out on the beaches of Australia and beyond. Her Australian made swimwear is not only ethically and sustainably made, but it also provides the highest level of sun protection in diverse sizing. Here’s the back story of Lyndal’s ground-breaking label, Es Una.
1. How did the idea for your Australian made swimwear label come about?
Like many families, mine love spending time at the beach each summer. When my kids were young, they and my husband would wear a rashie (or rash vest) but I could never find one that didn’t fit like a sausage skin. So, I wrapped myself in a towel or wore a t-shirt!
One Christmas, my 13-year-old daughter wanted to replace the rashie she’d outgrown. When wet, it hung down almost to her knees. She needed a new one but wanted it to fit like a t-shirt, not a glove. We searched all the surf shops and online. All we could find to give a relaxed fit was a size 18 men’s rashie.
I thought that she couldn’t be the only one who didn’t want to squeeze into a rashie and noticed that there were many women at the beach wearing sarongs, kaftans or were fully clothed. They weren’t able to splash or play with their kids in the water.
When we returned from holidays, I scoured the internet for a rashie for myself too. I found many different types of bathing suits to enhance, support and reveal, but nothing to fulfil the purpose of sun protection, swimming and body confidence.
I took my research further and interviewed women of all ages. I found that while 70% of those surveyed wanted to set an example for their children by wearing a rashie, only 10% did because they could only find tight fitting rashies that hugged their curves in all the wrong ways. According to a British survey on body confidence, 36% of women stop exercising because they’re too embarrassed about the way they look while they’re doing it. I found a similar sentiment in my survey and it saddened me to think about the number of women who give up going to the beach or pool with their families for the same reason.
I was motivated to deliver a smarter swimwear solution and that’s how Es Una was founded in 2016. My goal is to provide comfort, coverage and confidence so that all women can enjoy the beach.
2. Where did the name Es Una come from?
Es Una is named after my grandmother, Una. Una was a bright, intelligent and practical go-getter. Never leaving home without a splash of pink lipstick for that boost of confidence, Una was the first to try anything new – an early adopter – and she did so with gusto and enjoyment, recommending new finds to her family.
I took Una’s name and added to it to become ‘es una’. It means ‘she is’ in Spanish and suggests a sense of readiness and confidence to our brand.
‘She is’ enables us to define ourselves, which is what Una did.
A progressive and playful optimist, Una’s legacy lives on as part of my creations.
3. Es Una is Australian made swimwear produced in Adelaide. Tell us more about the process and how it’s worked for you when so many labels say it’s too expensive to make things in Australia.
Es Una is very proudly Australian owned, designed and made.
Being a relative newcomer to fashion, it was great to find a local manufacturer. They have been so supportive and collaborative, mentoring my journey. My manufacturer has been in business for decades, so they have so much experience and you can see this in the quality of my garments. I can literally drive up the road and speak with them in person. This means that the development process is much quicker than working with a supplier offshore.
We all know about covid-induced supply chain issues and the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a varied and capable local base across many industries. Making locally means that I support local jobs, skills development, innovation and industry growth. I value the contribution that other businesses in Australia make to my brand, process and business. That’s really important to me and part of my brand aesthetic.
There are many benefits of working with locals and this can outweigh some of the cost advantages of being manufactured overseas. I can also go to bed each night and sleep soundly knowing that the team members in my supply chain are paid appropriately, with the benefits that come from working in Australia.
4. You are ticking all the right boxes for having your label being ethically and sustainably made. Can you tell us more?
The technology available for fabric manufacture is unbelievable. The fabric that I have chosen is made from recycled fishing nets. It’s UPF50+, which is the highest sun protection available. This is an ethical choice too, as the fabric doesn’t just cover, it protects my customers’ skin from sun damage.
My manufacturer is an Ethical Clothing Australia certified manufacturer, so I know that their staff are paid appropriately and are working in safe conditions.
5. Es Una is a swimwear brand that helps provide access to the beach for many women who would otherwise make excuses not to go. Tell us about the women who want to know about this brand.
While many women simply like Es Una styles and want something different on the beach, others have an issue that we solve, be it confidence, comfort or coverage.
For example, Kate and Sarah are mums who were concerned with showcasing too much. Kate wanted to be able to breast feed on the beach and Sarah wanted to play with her young children, building sandcastles, digging in sand, splashing in the water. Es Una has given them freedom to do this.
Tina is susceptible to melanoma, so wanted to cover up but still go swimming, enjoy time at the beach and in the sun. She felt other rash vests were sporty and she wanted to feel stylish. Similarly, Toya wanted something that was “more dressy” while offering sun protection.
Women with scarring from surgery, or medical or autoimmune issues that require sun protection, often want to cover up too. I am particularly proud to provide swimwear solutions that liberate these women, enabling them to enjoy summer again.
6. What involvement do you have in raising awareness and fundraising for skin cancer?
Australia has the highest annual incidence of melanoma worldwide and the most common cancer affecting 20 – 39 year olds. Shocking statistics!
Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) runs an annual Melanoma March campaign. This year, I set an ambition for Es Una to support raising awareness to counter this statistic. We created an organic social and digital marketing campaign around #MelanomaMarch.
Es Una collaborated with micro influencers, an events company, a marketplace and gender equity advocates, Femeconomy. Our combined social media reach was over 800,000, with Es Una donating $10 from every rashie dress sold to the MIA research fund.
We were thrilled to be recognised by MIA for our campaign and even prouder to have raised awareness and contribute to the world-first immunotherapy clinical trial for melanoma treatment. We’re now in discussion with MIA regarding a partnership.
7. Tell us about the available range and sizing options.
Es Una’s range includes tops, bottoms and dresses, designed to wear over bathers. Each style is designed to address the different beachwear challenges women face. Most of our styles fill the transition gap to get you to and from the beach without changing outfits, making your holiday packing particularly easy.
Es Una’s base size is 14 – 16, the size of the average Australian woman. Our size range is XS to XXL, or sizes 6 – 24.
8. What’s been the hardest part of establishing a new label in the Australian swimwear market?
We have created a new category that’s part swimwear, part rashie, part outfit. Communicating that is tricky as most brands are designed around a visual aesthetic, whereas Es Una’s range is developed to stylishly solve a problem.
9. What’s been the most exciting part of your journey so far?
Every time I hear that a woman has been able to enjoy her Summer in Es Una is an ‘air punch’ moment for me. I don’t know that excitement is the right word, but I am proud to be making a difference.
See more about this amazing Australian made swimwear at @esunainspired