Meet the Maker - Rosie from Deakin & Blue Swimwear

Rosie Cook - CEO and Founder of Sustainable Swimwear brand Deakin and Blue - stood by a table with her designs around her
Image by Juliette Neele

Deakin and Blue is a British sustainable swimwear brand.  They make transformational women's swimwear designed to help women feel incredible in a swimsuit, whatever their shape or size.  Each swimsuit is made from ECONYL® - a 100% regenerated nylon fibre made from post-consumer waste such as old fishing nets and industrial plastic. 

We are absolutely thrilled that we are now stocking Deakin & Blue's popular
X-back swimsuits in black and coming soon to the store in cobalt.


We caught up CEO and Founder Rosie Cook to find out how the brand was born and about her love for swimming.


Where did the idea for Deakin and Blue come about?

About five years ago I was getting into swimming and struggled to find a swimsuit for my weekly swim. I wanted something that was flattering, fun and feminine but which would also stay in place as I moved in the water. I quickly realised that the swimwear market was divided into either pretty skimpy things which are great for ordering cocktails but useless the minute you get moving and on the other hand super sporty black one pieces which were usually unforgivably thin, really high cut on the leg and designed without much thought for body shape or bust support. I searched high and low, online and offline and couldn’t find anything that combined style and substance, so I decided to make my own! And so Deakin and Blue was born. 

Rosie Cook from Deakin and Blue stood on the shoreline of a beach


Tell us about the process of designing, making and producing Deakin and Blue’s swimsuits

I design every swimsuit and bikini for D&B with our customer in mind. This involves thinking about all the pain points of swimwear today (having to buy different size tops to bottoms, styles that are cut too high on the leg or that don’t have enough bust support) and then designing our styles to address these as best as they can. We work the designs up into samples and focus group these with a range of customers of different ages, shapes and sizes. 

It’s important to understand how a style works on multiple different bodies and to make sure that different features – such as the width of a strap, the depth of the underarm or the size of the print, translate well across different women. We iterate and iterate, sometimes going through five or six different versions of a product, until we are happy. Once we have approved a design it goes into production. Every piece is made in our London production studio from ocean waste and then shipped to our small family-run warehouse team in Devon who pack our orders into recyclable packaging and post them to our customers.

 

Group of women sat outside in swimwear


What are the challenges faced when ensuring your swimsuits are made sustainably?

Sustainability has become something of a buzzword in the fashion industry in the last few years. For me being sustainable is about making sure we have a net positive impact on the planet and this involves thinking about every aspect of our business (fabrics, suppliers, partnerships, ambassadors and more). However, ultimately I believe the most sustainable swimsuit you can buy is one that you love, that fits you perfectly and that you take care of – so that you keep it and wear it, season after season and swim after swim. 

The main challenge when trying to build a sustainable business is that making something well that is designed to last is much more expensive than designing something that isn’t. So it’s our job as a brand to explain to customers why our swimsuits are more expensive than something they might get on the high street and to hope that this understanding informs their wider shopping habits.

 

Close up of fishing nets


Any advice to small businesses out there?

Running a small business can be challenging – I know I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights and tricky decisions. The worries are inevitable unfortunately but how you navigate them is the difference between enjoying it and not! I have always found it incredibly useful and motivating to stay really focused on why I first set up Deakin and Blue and why I still run the business today. 

At D&B we are absolutely passionate about helping women enjoy the water and removing the barriers that stop women from participating in swimming and water-based activities. We believe that poor body image and poorly fitting kit is a major challenge for most women and that’s why we design and create swimsuits and bikinis that feel incredible on. We also deliberately photograph our products on women of different ages, races, shapes and sizes to dismantle the problematic myths that exist about what women’s bodies are meant to look like in swimwear. And we’re passionate about language (we’ll never sell anything called an “extra large”) and about storytelling – so over on the D&B blog we tell Body Stories: the stories of our customers’ relationships with their bodies, again to destigmatise the complicated relationships that many of us have with our physical identity. 

So if I’m having a hard day or struggling to make a decision I come back to this mission. I find it motivating but it also allows me to prioritise my activities. If something isn’t helping me progress towards this goal then I park it and know I can come back to it another time. 


Where did you learn to swim?

Like lots of British kids I learned to swim at school on fortnightly lessons to our local leisure centre. Thankfully my mum was always a very keen swimmer and so we visited the pool lots in the holidays too. I’ve always enjoyed swimming and felt confident in water but actually I’ve struggled with different bits of technique over the years so I had some top up lessons at the Olympic Pool a few years ago and am actually currently hunting for a teacher in Hackney to help get my front crawl back in shape! 


Tell us about a typical day in your life.

I drop my son off at nursery and either run home or head to the Clissold Leisure centre for a quick swim before getting to my desk for just after 9am. I try to divide my days up into project work in the morning (so no inbox, phone out of reach and proper focused time on a few key strategic activities) and then more tactical work in the afternoon (replying to emails, responding to urgent queries etc). 

Project work varies week to week. For example we’ve just finished a project refreshing our sizing guidance to help customers better navigate to the right fit for them. This has involved collating lots of customer data, analysing our size bands, revising our guidance and we’re currently doing some design work on the website to make the instructions super clear and beautiful. 

I only work three days a week and my days are pretty jam packed so, for my sins, I usually eat lunch at my desk whilst I check through my emails. If I’m feeling on top of my day then I’ll browse the Guardian or Twitter for 20minutes instead. 

In the afternoon I might be responding to press enquiries, liaising with the production studio about the latest production run or jumping in to help with any customer enquiries that the team need help with. I also try to schedule calls for the afternoon so my mornings aren’t too disrupted. I read every customer review myself and spend time at least once a week replying to thank the customers for their feedback. 

I’m back at the nursery late afternoon and spend a couple of hours catching up with my son over dinner and bedtime. If it’s a busy week (is it ever not?!) then I do a couple of hours work into the evening to try and get ahead for the following day. It’s a long day but I love what I do which is a pretty massive privilege isn’t it? 

Rosie Cook CEO and Founder of Sustainable Wild Swim Swimsuits stitching a women's swimsuit

 
What is in your swim kit bag? 

My D&B Keep-It-Dry Bag is a faithful companion on any indoor or outdoor swim. It always has a swim hat, my goggles and a mini shampoo should the venue be blessed with a shower facility… I’m yet to invest in a dry robe and prefer to just get dry and re-dressed as quickly as possible, so I have a much loved D&B quick dry towel which comes everywhere with me and I always carry clean, dry socks to help my feet warm up quickly. If I’m organised I’ll have stashed a flask of tea in my rucksack but I usually forget so will head for the nearest coffee shop I can find post swim! 

Lady sat on the edge of a lido outdoor swimming pool wearing a black swimsuit
The X-Back Swimsuit in Black - buy here.


Most memorable wild swim so far?

I’ve been lucky to swim in some pretty beautiful spaces both locally and further afield. My brother and sister live in New Zealand and so I’ve done some incredible swim-adventuring in the North Island, dipping in waterfalls, rivers and the sea. Charlie’s Rock is a personal favourite. Closer to home I had a pretty special day at Durdle Door with some swim pals a few years back. 

Wild Swimmer at a waterfall


Where is on your wild swim bucket list?

I’d absolutely love to swim in the lake district. I’ve done lots of walking in that part of the world but am still yet to dip a toe!


Any tips for beginners to wild swimming?

Exciting as it is I always recommend newcomers to wild swimming take it slow and gently and get out wanting more rather than overdoing it and putting themselves off. On a first dip (especially if it isn’t peak UK summer) I recommend going up to the knees, having a splash, seeing how you feel, then venturing into your waist if you fancy it. If that’s all you do on a first dip then that’s amazing! Wild swimming is an extreme sport and no one would expect you to ski down a mountain on your first day. If you do go all the way in up to your neck or head, then keep it short and come out much sooner than you might think as it can take a little while to realise how cold you are. Pack a hot drink for after! 

Cold Water Swimmer climbing out of a river wearing Deakin and Blue Sustainable Swimwear


What are your fave swim spots in London?

I swim regularly at London Fields Lido and the Hampstead ponds. The first is my guilty pleasure: all the thrill of outside whilst still being heated and having the luxury of a post-swim shower. The latter is total escapism and is more about floating and bobbing about in the glorious green-ness of the Ponds, pootling along next to ducks and enjoying feeling completely disconnected from my otherwise busy London life. I often meet pals at the ponds as it’s such a lovely sociable setting whilst I tend to head to the Lido for some headtown, meditative thinking time. 

 
You can buy Deakin & Blue's popular X-back swimsuit on the store now in black and dropping soon in cobalt.  Sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the homepage to find out when the X-back in cobalt is in stock. 



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