Sensi Graves is a professional kiteboarder, swimwear designer, and an advocate for sustainability. Her active, sports-centered lifestyle led to the development of her unique line of sustainable swimwear. Her ambition and love of adventure are just a few of the reasons we’ve feature Graves in our summer issue of Innovation & Tech Today. In this article, we share some exclusive content from our interview with Graves wherein she reveals her secrets to limiting her environmental impact, her experience as a female entrepreneur, and her most memorable moment in nature.
Innovation & Tech Today: Why did you decide to partner with 1% For the Planet?
Sensi Graves: Even as a small brand, it’s really important for us to give back, and I think it was either Tony Robbins or Richard Branson who said if you don’t give back now, while you don’t have as much money, if you use that as an excuse, then you’re never really going to give back and so we’ve built that into the values of the company as something to offset. So we’ve chosen to go into our third year of being a 1% For The Planet member and then we choose the environmental organizations that we get to donate to, which is pretty cool, and usually I choose options that are in our community.
That’s another thing, why aren’t more brands doing this? It seems the 1% For The Planet effort is growing. They’ve done a great job and I don’t know if it’s just awareness, but when you go to trade shows and look at the number of brands that are there and the percentage of brands that are actually 1% For The Planet members, it’s really low. From my viewpoint, if you’re not doing that you’re blowing it.
It’s not that hard to become a 1% For The Planet member. In the manufacturing sector, I think it’s just so important, especially as we get towards a planet where the resources are dwindling more and more and we are getting to a point where we can’t actually support our consumption rate… we just really want to get more and more brands onboard.
I&T Today: How do you feel about working with Plastic Tides?
Sensi Graves: I’m really excited to work with them, they’re a small company and they’re a bunch of kiteboarders so we had a great chat about that. They work with different brands to kind of, “green up” the whole process, which is really keeping an eye on everything and asking, “How can we help you guys be more green?”
From the beginning that’s always been a huge part of the value, we offer as a company. We use recycled hang tags, we use recycled labels, we do minimal packaging with materials, everything we use is recycled but there are certainly still more things that we can do. So I’m excited about those guys.
I&T Today: As a female entrepreneur have you run into challenges while developing your business?
Sensi Graves: Honestly, not too much. The swim industry is definitely more dominated by female designers overall. I think the challenges that I’ve seen when I’ve worked with other entrepreneurs just come from within and just feeling like I deserve to be at the table, I deserve to be at that meeting or feel confident in the decisions that I’m making. I started my business pretty young, but I’ve been lucky that I haven’t felt too much animosity or sexism as an entrepreneur.
I&T Today: Why did you choose to become an ambassador for All Good?
Sensi Graves: Oh I love them! I met them at a trade show a couple of years ago and we just thought it was a natural partnership because I’m in the water so much. They are also a 1% For The Planet member, we connect over that as well.
Everything we produce and put on our bodies goes into the system and obviously, the Earth is a closed system. And so just being as clean and chemical free as possible is super important to me, just as it’s important to go through each of the processes from what we eat to what we wear to what we put on our skin.
All Good’s products are reef safe, which is huge because if you do any research on sunscreens they just absolutely destroy the reefs. Ryan, the owner, actually grows some of the ingredients for his products on his farm in California. They’re still a relatively small sunscreen brand but they’re just very conscious about doing the right thing, so I love them.
I&T Today: What is your most memorable outdoor adventure?
Sensi Graves: It was probably three years ago, I did my first backpacking trip. Because I’m into water sports so much, I love snowboarding and surfing and all board sports, but I’ve never really done backpacking. My brother has a backpacking club where he and his friends go backpacking around California, so we did the Lost Coast Trail in Northern California. It was amazing. It was over three days and we did… I can’t remember how many miles, but it was 12,000 feet of vertical over the three days.
I’m very active, but I didn’t do a lot of hiking preparation and so going into it was like, “Oh we’re going on a backpacking trip, I don’t really need to prepare that much. I’ve never been backpacking, what do I need to bring? Okay, put it in my bag and let’s go.” And then it was up and down and up and down! So it was one of the hardest things I’ve actually done physically because it was so unexpected and then so much vertical up and down. I don’t know what was harder, the up or the down.
I’m from Northern California and I just remember, peeking out from the trees, seeing the expansiveness of the Pacific Ocean, and just breathing in the salt air. We were really secluded out there and it was just a real bonding experience with nature and actually one of my favorite outdoor experiences I’ve had in the last couple of years. I just feel so lucky to have grown up there and just feel lucky overall to live my life in a way that connects me with nature quite often.
To read our full interview with Sensi Graves be sure to check out the summer edition of Innovation & Tech Today.