I recently heard about swimwear on the market in Cluj made from a special material that contains recycled plastic waste from the seas and oceans. I know it’s nothing new, but I was fascinated by the idea of Andrea Cojocaru, a graduate of two faculties: journalism and law who had the brains and courage to go all the way with her idea. And when I say „all the way” I mean Mexico and Costa Rica.
Andreea Cojocaru was happy to receive my questions and answered them with all sincerity.
„I always wanted to create a perfect product, to be my own boss, not to work for someone else and to be able to invest in my own dream. I’ve noticed that I have a lot of swimsuits and that’s mainly because many of them lose their colour over time or the elastic material in them deteriorates quickly. I started researching the industry, mainly because I wanted to find a material that would keep its colour over time.”
After 6 months of research I found econyl and started producing swimwear
Once she decided to differentiate herself through the eco-friendly material used to make the suits, she began to promote the great qualities it has, from the sun and heat protection it offers, to the quick drying and strong, long-lasting shades.
The highly versatile base fabric is made from recycled plastic from the seas and oceans. Imagine that plastic has been sitting in water for decades.
Companies that collect marine litter find fish nets and plastic and take them to specialist factories that turn them into the fine fabric that is the core of the econyl-ui.
The material is sold white and then infused with the desired colours, and in this case it is tailored to swimwear patterns.
„Although over the two years we’ve been in business (it seems the pandemic has been a source of imagination for many industries) we’ve created various designs, the best sellers have been the full-sleeved, long-sleeved, surf-style swimsuits. Interestingly, they are bought by women of all ages. It’s super versatile and hides small body contour flaws.”
From Romania, on the beach in Costa Rica
„In Romania we started selling swimwear in the pandemic year 2020. People were slightly receptive, although the eco concept didn’t really matter. Customers were more fascinated by the design and the bold colours. After purchase we were also getting positive feedback about the material and its qualities (it dries in about 2 minutes). Many got one at first and then followed up with a second piece at least. However sales were not great.
In Europe we sold online and it went well at first, especially because the summer season is short and I was running the risk of making a large number of collections and having to keep them in stock as the material is not cheap and labour in Romania is not poorly paid.”
I have made a plan to expand into hot countries
„Costa Rica became a reality after a drone of a thought. An acquaintance born in Costa Rica told me how in Central America there are many people surfing, that it’s always warm and that tourism is on the rise. I had been to Brazil and had seen some of the Latin American culture, but I liked the way these people lived.
For a year I thought about Costa Rica, until I got a one-way ticket, two pieces of luggage: one with clothes and one with my bathing suits, and went off on my own to see what I could find there.
It was just a kind of documentation, to see if I could make it on my own on another continent, if I could fit in and if there was a chance to develop GoldSwimwear. I can say it was an ambitious, soulful journey packed with many dreams. I didn’t know anyone, so it was a project that stimulated me to the max and also a calling that I can’t fully explain even now.”
Meeting the Princess of Saudi Arabia
„Any start is hard. Many times I wanted to give up and go back home. The time zone differed from ours by 9 hours and we spoke quite rarely at home. I couldn’t bitter them with my fear and homesickness, but I tell you honestly, I really was.
The story is that every time I wanted to quit, something would happen to make me stay a little longer.
For example, one dreary morning, I went down to the ocean, wearing a wetsuit of my own, to attend a kid’s surf lesson at a nearby beach. That very day, the Saudi Arabian prince and princess were taking surfing lessons. They were in the ocean, and on shore, a whole crew was taking pictures and observing them.
I went in for a swim, and when I came out, the princess came up to me and asked me where I bought my bathing suit. I told her I was making it and that I had a couple of designs for sale, she said she couldn’t wait to see them. That was my luck. Of course I couldn’t believe it.
The next day, with the whole entourage, he came to the house where I was staying and bought three suits. It was a surreal moment. Then I said to myself: I’m staying! And from that moment the real story began :).”
Start of contracts all over the world
„In Santa Teresa, where I lived for 3 months, I started to meet a lot of people. Imagine a long street along the ocean, and on the other side the mountain with the jungle, where some of the most influential people have their villas. They all live simply and help each other. I was inspired to go in low season, when it’s not crowded, and had the opportunity to meet the owners of the local villas, shops and restaurants. Over time, I made friends with almost everyone in town, became part of their community and was able to get a lot of contacts, for my swimwear, from all over the world that could help me expand the business further.
The plan is to make contracts with as many beach wear shops as possible and sell to them. There the eco-friendly material is super appreciated. Everyone has been delighted with the products and they have already started collaborations with local villas, we have introduced the suits in the shops there, and sometimes we have even displayed them for sale on the branches of trees on the beach.
They are all dear to me because they are my own creations. The best sellers have always been the long-sleeved, brightly coloured suits. For girls who surf or do yoga, they’re ideal.”
My mom still doesn’t have one of my swimsuits 🙂
„My mom was 100% supportive even though the idea of walking the country by myself sounded crazy at first. She fully understood the idea of the business and now she encourages me more than ever. She doesn’t have one of my suits yet, but I promised to make her one soon.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even partner up at some point.
Right now she only comes to Santa Teresa on vacation because she wants to see the place that made me so happy. I thank her this way for all her support!”