Keeping Kahm in Wild Atlantic Waters
Áine Boyle was living in Byron Bay in Australia when Ireland entered its first lockdown in
March 2020. Byron is the most easterly point in Australia and the surfing mecca of the
world. As COVID-19 began to spread in Australia and a lockdown there was imminent, she took
the last flight out of Brisbane and returned back to her native home in Co Donegal. She had
always intended to go back to college to complete the modules she needed to qualify as a PE
teacher. She enrolled in Letterkenny Institute of Technology and started working as a sea
swim coach in her spare time. But, as time went on, she began thinking about the clean and
sustainable living that she experienced in Byron and wondered how to bring some of that
“Clean living and sustainability are at the heart of life in Byron, so you can find plenty of healthy organic cuisine, sustainable clothes shops and countless outdoor activities. When I returned to Donegal, I had a different perspective on everything - from what I eat to what I wear”.
When Ireland entered another lockdown after Christmas 2020, Áine moved in with her sister Sally Anne and her family to help with minding and home-schooling their four young children. It was during those long winter months that the idea for Kahm Sustainable Swimwear came to them. They both swam competitively as children and swimming has remained a big part of their lives – Áine in the sea and Sally Anne in the pool. The sisters got to work on a name, logo, branding, sourcing sustainable materials, creating an online presence for the business and creating relationships with suppliers.
So what next for Kahm?
“We had a soft launch during the Summer and are working hard on our Autumn/Winter range which is due to launch at Halloween. For ladies, we have Swimwear ranging from UK sizes 4 – 18, we have Shorts for men sizes 30” – 36” and we also cater for little girls ages 2 – 9 years. All of our pieces are made from ECONYL® regenerated nylon. We want to continue to grow the business and connect with the swimming community here and abroad”.
“KAHM” is an acronym made up of the first letters of Sally Anne’s four children – Kate,
Anna, Hugh and Mark. For Áine, it signifies how calm she feels in water.
“Sally Anne and I compliment each other’s skills. I love the creative and marketing sides of the business – the branding, the photography, videography and social media. Sally Anne is the business brain and manages all of our arrangements with funding, sourcing sustainable materials, packaging, manufacturers and retailers. We have a licence agreement with an Italian company called Aquafil which owns ECONYL regenerated nylon, which we currently use in all our swimwear pieces. The yarn is infinitely recyclable and feels so smooth and strong – it is hard to believe that it is made from old carpets, fishing nets and nylon scraps!”.
Sally Anne is based in Dublin and is a founding member and secretary of the Donegal Dublin Business Network (www.ddbn.ie). In her day job, she is general counsel and a director of an international real estate company. Speaking from her base in Dublin, Sally Anne explained:
“I am completely out of my comfort zone with this new venture but loving the challenge. It is very different to my day job but anything that allows me to work on Swimwear, Sustainability and Donegal at once is exciting and rewarding at the same time. There are great supports for ventures like ours from the Local Enterprise Office including female-specific accelerator programmes like “Ambition”. We are currently taking part in the Údarás na Gaeltachta Be-online e-Commerce growth programme which is very relevant to our business”.