Over last summer in Australia, and while nursing a broken rib, we received our first ever custom-made neoprene surfsuit from a lovely lady, Joanne Bennett, all the way over in the UK. Not being able to surf didn`t stop me from quaking with excitement upon receiving this long-travelled package – you see, several months earlier I`d emailed Jo from a boat in the Indian Ocean with very specific measurements of my entire body for her to whip up this creation, so when I finally was able to wiggle my way into the suit (aptly named the Houdini), I was impressed. Fitting like an absolute glove, my custom suit is incredibly comfortable. NOTE: Broken rib now healed, we`ll be surftesting our Houdini in the coming season and let you know how we rate it!
We wanted to find out more from Jo and share with our fellow salties the new revolution….
Hey Jo! Where are you from and how did you end up creating killer custom suits?? Hey SG, great to hear from you 🙂 I was born in Warwickshire and this all started back in 2001…following my heart after my first wave, THE biggest grin going on then and I`ve never looked back. I hassled a local wetsuit manufacturer to make me what I wanted; the owner liked my ideas and suggested I start my own business. Stoked.
What`s the female surf community like where you live? There is a huge amount of talent just in this small area of the UK. All ages, abilities, styles…a mass of beautiful female surfers; like Gwyn Haslock still surfing, inspirational! I`m not competitive and don`t follow competitions though I respect surfers that do compete. It takes a certain type of person to perform.
What inspires your design when it comes to cuts, fits, style? I`ve always loved mid-century styling and always bought secondhand clothes because of the quality and I think I feel the same about wetsuits. s l y n k cuts are influence by that era and also the simplicity of the style by using less panels. Fit, comfort and performance is key and making custom suits meets these needs brilliantly. The neoprene speaks for itself, it`s yamamoto and technical advances allow for greater warmth and movement compared to those early suits so it`s a very different deal. I try to create an understated subtle style for women that is feminine and flattering…removing the sporty look and creating wetsuits you want to wear.
How can we order a s l y n k suit? For now you can message: www.facebook.com/SLYNKWETSUITS or firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you see the evolution of female surfwear currently developing? There has been a steady change in female surfwear in the past few years with a more visible rise over the last couple of years, it`s fantastic. This is the start of choice, to express yourself in the surf like you would on the street and wetsuit producers, large and small, have started to move and understand this. The evolution, however, is down to us. For me, it`s about meaning, relevance and credibility in design. I strongly oppose planned obsolescence and have made this a part of s l y n k `s ethos: good-looking, performance wetsuits handmade in Cornwall, built to last.
Fully understanding the benefits of promoting and supporting local producers, surf or otherwise, where possible, will play a large part in how we move forward. It`s up to us to make the choice.
What are women wearing in your neck of the woods? There are still a lot of high street brands in the water but as entrepreneurs make themselves known, I think most ladygliders, once they see what is available, would choose those because it`s actually what they want to wear…we`re pretty rad when it comes to style.
Your favourite surf destination: I miss the cold East Coast of the UK, great set-ups! For a surf trip, I like staying on the beach and I`ve had great times in Australia and Costa Rica like that…I`d love to get lost in Baja…certain places just draw you in…and Iceland…how would the conditions there challenge me…jumping off and iceburg to get to the break!!
Top 10 essential surf travel items:
Sketch/notebook, 1 x pencil & 1 x black fine stabile (!)
Bins & sunnies
Dalai Lama words
Pentax Optio Waterproof
Words of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs…
From a friend via TED: Work through the CRAP: Criticism Rejection Arseholes & Pressure
From my family: Take the chances and the opportunity 🙂
From my best friend: Keep your smile 🙂
From me: I had an online site for inland surfers, encouraging girls to get in amongst it regardless…I used to say, “Our balls don`t shrink as much in the water.” It`s good to remember that. x
Coffee would be at The Park, Mawgan Porth
Fish n Chips hands down for Flounders, Newquay