For our World IP Day Series this year, we had the honour of interviewing Annabel Humphrey, the co-founder and the director of Pursuit The Label – a successful, stylish yet sustainable business which has created a range of luxury swimsuits made from ocean waste.
1. Hi Anna – first things first – can you tell us some interesting facts about your company?
We were one of the first ever sustainable brands to appear on Love Island! And we are just a team of 2, people often think we are this big global company.
2. Can you describe your business offering. How long has the business been running and how long have you been involved?
We are Pursuit, an online sustainable swimwear brand transforming regenerated ocean waste into luxury swimsuits. We have been running our sustainable brand for coming up to 2 years now, myself and my co-founder Hannah have been involved in the entire process from designing our first collection to now, It’s been an incredible journey.
3. What inspired you to join your current field of work?
My co-founder Hannah and I met at university where we studied Fashion Buying Management, at a time when sustainability wasn’t a widely talked about issue. We began to learn about the effects that fashion can have on the planet and it really opened our eyes to the global pollution generated by the industry. In May 2017, a year after we graduated, we were preparing to go away on holiday but were so frustrated by the lack of fashionable swimwear and the entire eco swimwear offer seemed to be very minimalist and we thought why can’t you shop consciously but also wear a standout swimsuit? That is the moment we came together and created Pursuit (Purpose + Swimsuit). We didn’t want to create just another fashion brand to damage the planet, it needed to have meaning which is why we knew that sustainability would be at the core of Pursuit from the outset.
4. What are your green initiatives?
We are so proud to be a part of an incredible change which is happening in the fashion industry with more and more brands re-evaluating their supply chains and joining the sustainable movement. Firstly, all of our swimsuits are all made from regenerated ocean waste. We use Econyl yarn which is a regenerated nylon made from pre and post consumer waste materials including discarded fishing nets. These nets pose a threat to marine wildlife when left in the ocean as species such as turtles can be left trapped.
Secondly, we produce in small batches. We hate waste! Over consumption is causing a lot of what is bought to go into landfill which means that companies are producing more than what is actually needed. Our approach is to produce what our customers request, we do this by using a pre-order system which we then use to influence our order at our factory. We find this to be the most ethical approach to manufacturing.
All of our pieces are made in the UK in an ethical factory here in London. We work closely with the entire team and are proud to work with a factory that treats its labourers fairly. This means that they receive their working rights and fair pay.
All of our packaging is made from recycled cardboard and we also use biodegradable mailing bags.
5. What are your “green” goals?
Our green goal is to ultimately be a circular company meaning that we will eventually be able to take back customers old swimwear and regenerate it into new fabric and new pieces without having to use the planets resources. We are excited for the future of technology which will enable this to happen!
6. What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability has become a bit of a buzz word over the course of 2019 and it can be interpreted in various different ways. For us sustainability means operating your business consciously. Our goal is to be as transparent and ethical as possible. We do this by ensuring that we understand each process that goes into making our final swimsuit. Whether this be the process that our fabric/trims goes through, by limiting how much we ship from abroad, by producing in short runs and using only our regenerated fabric.
7. What are the biggest challenges you face in building a sustainable and green business?
I believe the challenges are to come, our goal is to be global as we have a large customer base who order from the US. Attaining this goal will of course present challenges as to how we remain a green company whilst expanding and remaining true to our values.
What does your company do on a day-to-day basis that you would class as green and sustainable?
We are a big believer that even small steps can have a positive collective effect. At Pursuit, we try to avoid any extra unnecessary waste, we recycle religiously and we use bike couriers throughout London to deliver things to our factory which is in Enfield to limit emissions being released into the environment.
8. What IP protection do you currently have?
We are in the process of looking into Intellectual property. As we gain more exposure as a brand, we feel that we need to start to protect our company and our designs.
9. How do you think intellectual property will help you in your pursuit of staying innovative and sustainable?
Our standout swimsuits are what differentiate us from other sustainable swimwear brands. We think that protecting our designs could stop one of our competitors from ‘taking inspiration’ from our pieces.
10. What are the biggest challenges that you think green businesses face with respect to their intellectual property?
For a large company, the challenge may be to have a team in place to ensure that their intellectual property is being protected on a global scale.
11. Do you think there needs to be more education around how intellectual property can protect new and innovative green ideas, technologies, brands and ideas?
Absolutely, we are grateful that Yana has been so helpful in advising us, we really feel like its something that could really benefit companies particularly those with new innovations!
Before you go, have a look at these beautiful swimsuits here, on the website of Pursuit The Label. If you have any questions about brand protection, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Stobbs on the following email, firstname.lastname@example.org.