Behind The Brand

RII Swim

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Tell us a bit about yourself 

I was born and raised in Hong Kong to Japanese parents, and growing up in HK meant a lot of time under the sun at pools and beaches. I did the corporate thing for a good 4-5 years, and while it did keep me feeling like I had made good accomplishments on paper, the office life really wasn’t for me.

What made you start your company?

I’ve wanted to start up my own swimwear brand for years and COVID lockdowns definitely had a part to play in giving me that final push to do it. I left my full time corporate role a year ago, and since then I’d been freelancing and trying to figure out where I wanted my career to go. I used the remote working environment and all the extra free time I suddenly had to focus on bringing the swimwear dream to fruition. Also before that, I spent a lot of time travelling (therefore buying a LOT of swimwear over the years) and could never find a nice, last-minute swimsuit in Hong Kong that was to my taste.

Tell me about your product and brand?

RII SWIM (Rii = the end of my Japanese name Erii, nothing super profound or meaningful!) is an eco-conscious swimwear line that offers chic and functional swimwear with purpose. We only use sustainable Italian fabric (Carvico Vita), which is composed of innovative recycled nylon called ECONYL. The company that creates these fabrics, Aquafil, takes pre/post-consumer waste at the end of their life cycles such as discarded fishing nets/ghost nets and carpets sent to landfill, and transforms them into fabrics and textiles that are also regenerable an infinite number of times.

What struggles have you faced when starting up a business?

The struggles were mainly associated with swimwear-specific issues like sizing and fit, and managing waste. I wanted to produce as little waste as possible, which means producing in very small batches at a time. That means limited sizing and designs, and swimwear is definitely the opposite of a ‘one size fits all’ kind of product. It’s hard to balance size inclusivity with waste management, while also trying to keep the products appealing to various demographics in Hong Kong – which we know is a melting pot of different cultures, lifestyles, and tastes.

How did you get over them?

This is only my first collection after all, and the feedback from customers have helped me beyond anything else. I’m noting all the feedback – praises and criticisms alike – and hoping to keep doing better for future collections.

Any advice for others just getting started?

Seek help! Get advice! Do surveys! Don’t do it all on your own. I’m very much a “do it myself” kind of person and while that has been good for keeping focus, I’ve also learned it’s absolutely necessary to know your audience and to know what they want first.

Do you have a favourite quote?

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” So applicable to all of us stuck in Hong Kong during this pandemic!

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