As a brand we are constantly inspired by and in awe of the wonderful women in our community, the women who support us, the women who model for us, the women who wear our swimwear. So we decided to capture these wonderful women on film camera and share some of their stories with you. We hope you fall in love with them all as much as we did 🌊
We are starting by having a chat to Sophie Hellyer. Sophie is a surfer, yoga teacher, writer, environmentalist and TEDx speaker alongside being the founder of Rise Fierce retreats. Rise Fierce retreats encourage women to embrace the beautiful outdoors and to find empowerment from reconnecting with themselves.
She believes in the power of cold water swimming to promote body-neutrality, improve mental and physical health and reconnect with nature.
We wanted to find out more about why the ocean is important to her and her views on sustainable fashion,
1. When did you start cold water swimming and why?
It must be about 3 years ago now. I was talking with a couple of friends about the health benefits of cold showers and we just decided, fuck it, let’s go in the sea instead.
We arranged to meet at 7.30am on the slipway one frosty April morning, and in we went. Our plan was to go once a week but it very quickly became daily. It also became so much more than just for health benefits. The sense of calm the cold water brings me, the feeling of being alive. It’s not a solution to all your problems but for those few minutes you leave your problems on the shore and you just go and feel alive. It’s like hitting a big reset button, I may be stressed or sad or angry but when I come out the water I just feel calm and empowered. The sense of community is also huge, seeing the same faces every morning, knowing there will be someone there with you to chat, laugh or cry through whatever life throws at you.
At the time we started swimming I was working hard at the business I owned, The Green Room Surf School (Ireland’s first eco friendly surf school and shop). I was quite ill with all the financial stress and going through a breakup too. I’ve no doubt the water played a huge part in my healing and giving me the strength to do what was right for me. They say salt water cures everything. I’m inclined to think it’s true.
2. Can you describe your relationship with water and the ocean?
The ocean to me is everything. It provides the air we breathe and sustains all life. It’s given me friends, a career, a playground and a purpose in life. I try to make sure all my work aligns with love for the ocean and protecting and promoting its wellbeing.
3. At Stay Wild we are passionate about the planet and creating more sustainable pieces that are good for people and the planet. Can you describe what sustainability means to you?
Sustainable is a word that’s thrown around a lot at the moment and I think it’s important we peel away the layers. A brand makes a pair of leggings from recycled plastic and declares them sustainable, but if they are essentially a fast fashion brand and the clothes are made by women in poor working conditions, is it really sustainable or is it just a marketing ploy in a green coat?
I think sustainability is a lifestyle, a conscious decision to consume less and to make better decisions. The first question has to be do I really need this item? And then if I do, what are my options and what’s the best way to get it with minimal environmental impact? A swimsuit isn’t sustainable if you already own 30 swimsuit and you’re only going to wear it once. Invest in a good product, wear it, love it, repair it, make it last. We really need to value products more. And when you do purchase, don’t forget every pound you spend is a vote with your wallet. Support small, female owned brands who are trying to make positive change. That’s why I support Stay Wild Swim.
Follow on Sophie on Instagram: @sophiehellyer