Kathleen's Journey: Blending Style with Sustainability at Tiller Swim

Kathleen's Journey: Blending Style with Sustainability at Tiller Swim

Kathleen, the founder of Tiller Swim and an inspiring entrepreneur, lives and builds her brand from sunny California. Known for her commitment to sustainable fashion, she has successfully merged her passion for design with environmental responsibility. Her educational journey at Babson College, renowned for its focus on entrepreneurship, played a pivotal role in shaping her business acumen. Kathleen's deep connection to nature and fashion has led her to create Tiller Swim, a brand that stands out for its eco-friendly swimwear and is featured on The Muze, known for its strong brand identity and thoughtful designs.

Questions and Topics We Covered Include:

  • Kathleen’s background and current location
  • The journey to founding Tiller Swim
  • Transitioning into entrepreneurship
  • The importance of sustainability in fashion
  • Challenges in the sustainable fashion industry
  • Personal connection to swimwear and sustainable materials
  • Business strategies and customer education at Tiller Swim
  • Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in sustainability
  • The significance of supporting women-owned businesses

Full Transcript

Alexis Fox 0:00

Thank you so much for joining us today.

Kathleen 0:01

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to chat.

Alexis Fox 0:06

As a business owner, I appreciate you taking time for this conversation. It's a timely and important one with Earthbound coming up and your awesome brand, Tiller Swim. Before we dive into that, could you share a bit about yourself – your background and current location?

Kathleen 0:31

I'm based in LA, on the West Coast, where we're currently facing some extreme weather due to climate change. Originally, I'm from the East Coast, Connecticut, and spent a lot of time ski racing in Vermont. After moving to Boston for college and spending some time there, I found myself craving a change and moved to LA. It aligns well with my lifestyle, and I've fallen in love with it here.

Alexis Fox 1:07

The climate in California certainly makes it an ideal place for a swimwear brand. Your website, The Muse, reflects a strong brand identity and thoughtful designs. Was entrepreneurship always your goal?

Kathleen 1:39

I wouldn't say I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I've always been driven to create something on my own. Attending Babson College, which focuses on entrepreneurship, wasn't my initial plan, but it turned out to be a perfect fit. This journey wasn't about knowing from the start; it was more about discovering and embracing entrepreneurship along the way.

Alexis Fox 2:34

That's an inspiring path. Let's talk about your passion for sustainability. How did this become a central part of your mission?

Kathleen 3:20

My interest in sustainability grew over time. In college, I started understanding its impact not just on the environment, but on people and workers worldwide. Learning about the negative effects of certain industries, including fashion, opened my eyes. It wasn't an overnight switch to sustainability; it was a gradual process of understanding and changing my perspective and habits.

Alexis Fox 5:46

Absolutely. Shifting gears a bit, why did you choose sustainable fashion, and specifically swimwear, as your business focus?

Kathleen 6:19

Fashion has always been an interest of mine. I've been drawn to it since I was young. My connection to swimwear is deeply personal; growing up on the water, sailing, swimming, and spending summers in a swimsuit shaped my identity. When I learned about the environmental impact of swimwear materials, it sparked a desire to find sustainable alternatives, leading to the discovery of eco-friendly materials like Econyl. This was the start of Tiller Swim.

Alexis Fox 9:55

It's amazing how you've navigated these challenges. Starting a fashion brand, especially with a sustainable focus, is not straightforward. What would you say has been a pivotal moment or change in your business?

Kathleen 10:58

Currently, we're focusing on honing our mission and differentiating ourselves in a crowded market. Our goal is to educate our customers on sustainable choices and refine our product line to emphasize convertible designs. This approach aligns with our belief in creating versatile, long-lasting pieces.

Alexis Fox 11:33

That’s a valuable direction. What advice would you give to someone just starting in sustainability or fashion entrepreneurship?

Kathleen 12:14

I’d advise taking your time and not rushing the process. It’s important to focus on what you're passionate about, listen to your customers, and let your business evolve naturally. Comparing yourself to others or rushing to meet arbitrary deadlines can detract from your mission.

Alexis Fox 16:34

Wise words. Lastly, why do you think supporting women-owned businesses is important?

Kathleen 17:38

Women-led businesses often bring a different perspective and intention to their ventures. Despite making up a significant portion of the population, women are still underrepresented in business leadership. Supporting women-owned businesses isn't just about equality; it’s about bringing diverse, thoughtful, and mission-driven perspectives to the forefront of industry and innovation.

Alexis Fox 22:10

Kathleen, thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with us. Your journey with Tiller Swim is not only inspiring but also a testament to the importance of intention and innovation in business. We're excited to see what the future holds for you and your brand.

Additional Informaion & Action Steps:

  • Explore more about sustainable fashion and its impact: Visit The Muze Magazine
  • Learn about eco-friendly materials in fashion: Read more at Sustainable Fashion Alliance
  • Discover tips for starting your own sustainable brand: Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Fashion
  • Support women-led initiatives in business: Women in Business Network

For those inspired by Kathleen's story, consider incorporating sustainable practices into your lifestyle and supporting women-led businesses in your community. Stay informed about the latest trends in eco-fashion and entrepreneurship by following The Muze for more engaging content.



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