Gartan girls dipping their toes in new swimwear venture
GARTAN sisters Áine Boyle and Sally Anne Sherry have launched a sustainable swimwear company creating swimsuits from regenerated nylon.
Áine and Sally Anne grew up swimming with the Swilly Seals and both worked in the old Letterkenny Leisure Centre in their teenage years.
“We would have swam four to five days a week as kids and then as teenagers five to six days a week. We would have had really early starts. You get great discipline from swimming and that is something that has stood to us as adults,” Áine told the Donegal News.
The sisters realised there was a gap in the Irish market for sustainable swimwear and wanted to develop a brand that is affordable as well as catering for different sizes and body shapes.
Áine had been living in Australia pre-Covid and managed to get the last flight out of Brisbane before the first lockdown. In Australia sustainability is very much embraced and she gained some valuable experience of sustainable living while over there.
Back in Ireland she moved in with Sally Anne and her family which gave the siblings plenty of time together to develop their idea for their business.
“Áine is predominately a sea swimmer and I am predominately a pool swimmer so we wanted to make sure that we would have swimwear that you could wear that looks and feels good in the sea but would also be durable with chlorine,” said Sally Anne.
“The aim with our swimwear is that it is much more durable, they are double lined. They are fully recycled material but also they can be recycled again.
“The material is ECONYL®. It belongs to an Italian company called Aquafil and they are a really forward thinking, exciting and innovative company who have been able to use these components and put them into regenerated nylon.
“The main components of the material are old fishing nets, old carpets and nylon scraps.”
Their collection Kahm went live last Thursday and they have been blown away by the response. The name Kahm comes from the first letters of Sally Anne’s children’s names.
“When Sally said Kahm to me it was something that really struck a cord with me because I do feel such a calmness in the water and I do find it so therapudeic,” said Áine.
One swimwear style that has proven to be extremely popular is Kahm’s long sleeve emerald green swimsuit with an open back which sold out in 24 hours.
“We have a couple of different styles and some of them will suit one figure and some will suit others and we are trying to diversify into a couple of different types so we know there will be something for everybody,” said Sally Anne.
“We took in a certain amount of stock and we didn’t want wastage so we know now what styles and what sizes are the most popular and we will restock based on that.”
They have also launched four styles for girls and one style of men’s shorts which are also almost sold out. Given the success of the men’s shorts they hope to release more men’s swimwear in their next collection.
“We have been absolutely blown away and one of the things we found really interesting was all the different parts of the world that we have received orders from,” said Sally Anne.
“Some have Donegal connections and some don’t. We have sent swimsuits to Singapore, Australia, Chicago, Florida, Denmark, London, all around Ireland and all around Donegal. It is one of those things that is really resonating with people.
“We would love to have fully up and running operational business in Donegal. Everyone has to start somewhere and this launch has given us real confidence that there is a market for it.
“We would love to grow and have a base and employees in Donegal.”
Áine is working as a beach lifeguard in Downings and is currently finishing her studies at Letterkennny Institute of Technology in PE teaching.
She is leading the day to day running of the company in Donegal while Sally Anne is based in Dublin and works in real estate.
You can find all the details about Kahm on the website kahm.ie, Instagram kahm_sustainable_swimwear and Twitter @KahmSwimwear.