Iwona Kapcia, founder and designer of Anowi Surfwear, is committed to sustainability for her swimwear brand. After all, the fashion industry has a pretty astonishing impact on the environment, from carbon emissions to water pollution and overuse. Iwona found her job in New York’s fashion industry didn’t mesh with her environmental values and passion for surfing, so she founded her own line of swimwear. Then she used her skills as a designer to add features to her products that she’d always wanted, like pockets and thumb holes.
Today, Anowi Surfwear has a wonderful line of colorful swim tops and bottoms that can be worn on water and land – and not just for surfing! We are excited to introduce you to Iwona and her swimwear on TheWMarketplace.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I was looking for a brand that serves water women and has a particular interest in creating highly functional, contemporary designs with fun but sophisticated patterns and sustainability in mind.
I wanted styles that were super easy to slip on and off, moved with me, gave just enough coverage and had functional details like pockets and thumb holes. I wanted active swimwear designed to flatter a grown woman’s body instead of making me worry what is showing and whether I still have it on during my sessions. I also wanted sustainability to be nonnegotiable and treated as the only way to operate a business.
And because there wasn’t enough options on the market that answer all these needs and knowing that more women must feel this same way, I started Anowi Surfwear.
Is your experience or education related to your current business?
It does! I have a BA degree in fashion design and I worked over 10 years in the fashion industry before starting my active swimwear label. I have always loved making things with my hands and have been drawing since I was a little girl – constantly actually and sometimes on the walls of our apartment to the displeasure of my parents.
After achieving my childhood dream of working as a fashion designer in one of the biggest fashion cities – New York – I was very grateful. However, I started noticing the negative impacts that the garment industry has on our environment. I was more and more bothered by the fact that my industry is one of the biggest water polluters. I did not want to abandon my passion but decided to create my own brand and try my hardest to create beautiful, functional products but with deep respect for our planet.
Have you had to overcome any significant barriers with your business?
Currently, I am a solopreneur, which means that I have to wear very many hats. It is a challenge, but also such a learning opportunity. I am experiencing growing pains for sure but also feel more alive on the professional front that I have ever felt before. It is such a blessing to be able to do what you love and hopefully help others through your work.
What keeps you going?
I am always inspired by ocean and water people and constantly looking for ways to improve the designs. Most of the patterns (I design them myself in-house) are designed after being inspired by a surf trip or seeing a photograph of a beautiful sea creature, and the style ideas come from the experience of being active in the ocean and wishing a specific detail or style was available already.
What are your hopes for the future?
I want to grow Anowi into a full lifestyle brand one day. I hope to create work for others who share the same vision and provide more business for my extremely professional and quality-oriented manufacturer, print house and fabric mill.
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Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.