Woman of the Future:
Helen Newcombe talks Responsible Business
Hailing from Devon, Helen Newcombe is Founder & Director of Davy J Swimwear. A proud female entrepreneur and a circular economy advocate, she launched her brand six months ago and has focused on producing high-quality, beautiful and durable swimwear for women ever since. Positive Luxury sat down with Helen to discuss all things responsible business and positive living.
How did Davy J begin?
The seed for Davy J grew out of my own frustrations with the current swimwear market and the fact that it was so difficult to find stylish swimwear that could keep up with you in the waves or could be worn kitesurfing or diving off a boat.
The concept developed into a reality when I discovered ECONYL® yarn, an innovative recycled nylon fibre which is 100% regenerated from waste sources – including discarded fishing nets, carpet fluff and textile offcuts.
It was at this point that I realised I could combine my passion for the circular economy with my desire to create a sustainable business.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I take pride in the fact that I don’t come from a fashion/design background, meaning that the whole design process is approached from a user’s perspective, drawing on inspiration from performance wear, the wider activewear market, and classic luxury tailoring. I then use the technical expertise of specialists around me to turn that inspiration into quality pieces.
Congratulations! You recently won at the ‘Woman of the Future’ awards – could you tell us more about that?
Yes, what a whirlwind week that was. The Women of the Future Programme is a platform to recognise and support emerging female talent in the UK. As part of the event, I spoke about my journey as a female entrepreneur and the future for the brand at the Women of the Future Summit; then, to top the week off, I was announced as the Winner of the Entrepreneur Category.
This beautiful trophy now has pride of place on my desk alongside my Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark. It marks a huge opportunity and upcoming period of growth for Davy J as we pursue our ambitious vision to create a brand that really reconsiders the way we view materials and advocates a new way of valuing the resources that go into making products of the future.
For every 100 Davy J suits sold, around 9 kilograms of waste has been regenerated. What does responsible production mean to Davy J?
From sustainability foundations to positive supply chain choices, for me building a business is about creating something greater than the sum of its parts and having a positive impact on the world.
Davy J suits are primarily designed for open water use and made for those women that love being in, around, and near the sea and coastline. We’re hugely proud to support a solution that not only prevents damaging waste entering our seas but also finds a way to regenerate this waste into material that then supports enjoyment of the seas.
Davy J is working towards 60% closed-loop recycling by 2020. Can you tell us a bit more about that process, and how it means longer lifespans for your swimwear?
Davy J is committed to supporting British manufacturing; all our suits are made through a small production unit in Wales. Our pieces are double lined for durability and use a high elastane content fabric which produces a strong, high quality feel to the piece.
Chlorine and saltwater are tough adversaries and, because we expect you to be putting our suits through their paces, there will eventually come a time when your suit reaches the end of its life – at that point we want you to send it back to us. By 2020, our goal is to feed the nylon from our waste swimsuits back into the ECONYL® regeneration process and remake nylon yarn to feed back into our supply chain.
What does ‘positive luxury’ mean to you?
It means ‘valuable’ – in quality, in sentiment, and in meaning. We aim to make our wearer feel confident, beautiful and ready to hit the beach, waves, or hot tub.