When siblings Jake and Caroline Danehy started spotting plastic bottles in the oceans of their favorite vacation town of Fair Harbor, Long Island, they began to wonder if—rather than just recycling the discarded bottles—they could use them to create something. This thought sparked the idea for their eco-conscious company, named Fair Harbor, that uses traceable threads upcycled from post-consumer plastic bottles to make swimwear.
Fast forward to today, Fair Harbor’s business has taken off and the team is being incubated at UNTUCKit headquarters—along with COO Jon Drenckhahn—as the two brands launch a sustainable swimwear collaboration. Here, the three reflect on the road to creating their brand and the insights they’ve learned as budding entrepreneurs.
UNTUCKED: How were you able to turn a desire to clean up beaches into a swimwear brand?
Jake: Ultimately, we started this company with the goal of mitigating the use of single-use plastics and showing people how to live plastic free. With this idea in mind, I spent a year researching plastics and polyester at Colgate University in a program that helps students nurture business ideas and create real companies. Once I knew I wanted to create Fair Harbor, my mentor Dina Dunn and I went on a journey to find a mill that would convert recycled plastic bottles into wearable yarn.
UNTUCKED: A huge part of your ethos is making a change in the world. What have you done so far?
Jake: We’ve reused 350,000 bottles through creating our swimwear so far, but we still have a long way to go. Our true mission is to create a laid-back beach lifestyle that’s really all about promoting plastic-free living and reducing the amount of plastics in our world. To do that, we have to change public perception by doing two things: educating people about the problem at hand and providing real solutions for solving it.
UNTUCKED: What’s your approach to entrepreneurship? Who do you think is doing it right?
Jake: I like business ideas that are less about selling products and more about making something that matters. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, and Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Tom's have an amazing brand ethos and business mentality.
Caroline: I look up to people who can dine a niche and scaled business well, so I’d have to say Outdoor Voices and its female CEO Ty Haney.
Jon: Phil Knight of Nike because of his ability to be resilient and grow the biggest sportswear brand in the world. He was competing against a running space that was already established and came out on top.
UNTUCKED: What’s the best advice you’ve received as entrepreneurs?
Caroline: Trust your gut. If you're passionate about something, then someone else will believe in your vision.
Jake: "Keep your feet on the ground, and eyes on the stars." My favorite quote by Theodore Roosevelt that reminds you to stay grounded and dream big.
You can now find six original men’s swimsuits at UNTUCKit.com and at select UNTUCKit stores nationwide.