All the best business ideas are created from a need for change. And Sara Cohen’s swimwear brand Hākinakina was borne after she survived a life-changing battle with cancer. Completing her treatment in 2015 and given the all-clear the following year, after moving to New Zealand in 2018, Sara was looking for swimwear that suited her active lifestyle and offered the high level of sun protection she needed to cover up her radiation burns. “The problem was that when it came to it, I found I only had two options,” explains Sara, whose outdoorsy lifestyle included spending hours on the beach every day. “Go for sun protective fabric in a skimpy bikini that offered next to no protection, or cover-up in something that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Victorian gothic novel!”
Spending months looking for a specific type of activewear that she simply couldn’t find, Sara realized that the only solution was to make what she was searching for herself. “I knew that there had to be a better way,’ says Sara. ‘And that way was Hākinakina.”
Armed with a background in marketing, five years building a women’s fashion label and a desire to get back to living the outdoorsy lifestyle she loved, Sara created a range of swimwear designed to give women the freedom to play in the sunshine without compromise – and look great while they do it. “I’m not one to back down from a challenge,’ laughs Sara, whose career in marketing and fashion has seen her live and work across three continents. “And this was one challenge that I knew I had to succeed in overcoming.”
With the belief that serious play and skimpy swimwear were two things that simply did not go together, Sara’s mission was to create a collection that allowed the wearer to relax, have fun, and do whatever she wanted without the fear her swimwear would leave her exposed – both to the sun’s harmful rays and in the most literal sense of the term. “Our swimwear is designed by experts for a superior, flattering fit. Effortlessly combining cool, contemporary luxe with the principles of activewear to create swimwear you’ll want to wear all day, we worked really hard to ensure that pieces fit brilliantly and won’t ride up while you’re wearing them – we’ve literally got you covered,” she smiles.
Working with the best textile manufacturers around the world, Sara sourced fabrics that not only offered unparalleled UPF 50+ sun protection but enabled her to create the bold and vibrant prints she loved to wear in her daily wardrobe for an activewear range. Better still, she was overjoyed to discover this fabric was also made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles – helping her take steps towards achieving her dream of creating a truly sustainable business.
“Hākinakina is all about embodying the spirit of look good, feel good and do good. That’s our mantra,’ says Sara. ‘Activewear that works as hard as you play, in exclusive prints with complete SPF50+ protection made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and manufactured here in New Zealand. We make everything specifically to order so we never over-produce. And for every single piece we sell, we donate money to Cancer Research.”
Knowing that fashion is the second most polluting industry after mining, and striving to have zero impact upon the planet, Hākinakina pieces are designed as timeless, versatile staples made to outlast fashion trends. Swimwear is made to order, uses waterless printing with a manufacturing process that emits fewer greenhouse gases than traditional fabrics, and is powered purely by green solar energy. Keeping wastage to the absolute minimum, and utilizing recyclable packaging, once your piece does eventually wear out, simply send it back to the brand for recycling and they will give you an exclusive discount to use on your next Hākinakina purchase.
“We’re unique in that we make all of our pieces to order, so we can be sure that every piece we make goes to a happy home rather than landfill,’ explains Sara. ‘We will reduce waste by releasing small collections just a couple of times a year – we’re starting with a swimwear capsule of just 5 pieces – and aim to produce to demand, holding as little stock as is commercially viable. We’re starting with swimwear, but the plan is to create a whole activewear range that is founded on our three core principles – look good, feel good and do good.”
Offering pre-orders until August 25 for delivery in mid-November, Hākinakina offers delivers directly to the UAE.
For more information, visit www.hakinakina.com, or find them on Instagram @hakinakina.active