It’s 2020 and sustainability is trending. With climate protest movements on the rise, Gen Z and millennials have stepped forward to lead the world in the fight for environmental sustainability. Caroline and Jake Danehy serve as an example of two millennials who have capitalized on their power as global citizens to create a brand that promotes sustainability. As co-founders of Fair Harbor, a men’s swimwear company, these two ambitious siblings and inspiring entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the recycled plastic that litters beaches to create a unique fabric for their products.
It is easy to feel as though the sources of pollution are out of our control. However, everyday efforts can be made to counter the environmental issues faced in today’s day and age, and plague the Earth’s future. Purchasing environmental friendly clothing is a daily practice people often overlook that has the potential to make a positive impact. Caroline and Jake Danehy have made sustainable fashion an option for the everyday consumer.
The Danehys enjoy their summers spent in Fair Harbor on Fire Island, NY. Growing up in this small community allowed them to develop an appreciation for clean beaches and sustainability. When Jake delved into his college experience as a sophomore at Colgate University studying geography, he learned more about pollution and was confronted by the issue of ocean plastic waste. Jake thought about ways to repurpose single use plastic to have a more sustainable impact. Caroline, a passionate advocate for the environment with an interest in fashion, collaborated with her brother to create eco-friendly products that are accessible to the average consumer.
“Our goal with Fair Harbor was to create the best board shorts on the planet while doing our part to keep the oceans we love clean from plastic waste.” – Jake Danehy
While in school, Caroline and Jake began their journey as young entrepreneurs. However, this sibling duo never let their age limit their goals or define their future. They began by entering Colgate’s mock Shark Tank competition in 2015 where they presented their idea to thousands of people and a panel of distinguished judges. The Danehys ended up winning $20,000 from the competition and used the money to launch their first line of board shorts and swim trunks.
In December of 2015, while juggling exams, Caroline and Jake launched a Kickstarter campaign and other crowdfunding events to raise more money for their brand. They ended up reaching 225% more than their initial funding goal, which allowed for an increase in production.
In addition to abiding by a sustainable mission statement, Fair Harbor also follows an ethical mission statement that encourages fair labor practices. Passionate about their company’s values, Caroline and Jake were set on finding a factory that met their criteria. The two traveled to China to meet factory owners and employees. Their determination and hands on approach allowed Fair Harbor to maintain a sustainable business model without forsaking the quality of their products.
Since 2015, the Danehys have been working hard to improve and make changes to their product’s styles, designs and fabrics. Fair Harbor has grown and expanded with worldwide success.
This power duo exemplifies the ways in which determination and passion can drive young people and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into businesses. Fair Harbor should inspire other businesses to follow a sustainable business model that can help contribute to solving environmental problems around the world.
To understand the importance of a sustainable business model like Fair Harbor’s, it’s important to look at the impact that COVID-19 has had on our environment. Although COVID-19 may continue to present society with challenges moving forward, a small source of hope can be found in the improvements made to the environment. With millions of people quarantining at home in light of the pandemic, pollution has been limited greatly. Lock down cities have seen a decrease in carbon emissions, oil usage, and waste. The canals of Venice, Italy, a city greatly affected by COVID-19, have even cleared up enough for dolphins to return to the waters. While the improvements made to the environment as a result of quarantine have been significant, it is possible that the environment revert back to its vulnerable, post-quarantine state in a few months. However, if other businesses follow Jake and Caroline’s lead, and consumers make a conscious effort to invest in a sustainable style, then an eco-friendly future might not be so far out of reach.
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