women in business

Iwona Kapcia On Creating a Sustainable Surf Label for Women

Iwona Kapcia On Creating a Sustainable Surf Label for Women


Firstly, can you tell me a little about yourself?

I grew up in Southern Poland, as far from the sea as possible in my country. When I was about 4, my parents and I went on vacation to the Baltic sea. They told me that the first time I saw waves, I sat down quietly and observed them with a complete fascination for quite a while:).

When I told this story to my partner over 30 years later, he said that I was always meant to be a surfer.

Coincidentally, I started drawing "fashion illustrations", mostly on my parent's apartment walls around the same age. Ever since I found out that there is a profession where you can do that for a living, I wanted to be a fashion designer.

Over 20 years later I moved to New York to pursue this career and worked for smaller as well as huge retailers.

Now at 40, I feel like I found my true calling by combining these two passions.

I live, surf and work in Rockaway Beach, NY with my partner who has a surfing school here and two adorable dogs.

Tell me about your brand Anowi, where does this name come from?

Naming the brand was believe it or not one of the most challenging things! It took weeks of brainstorming and nothing quite worked but then one day I tried spelling my name backwards, and it sounded quite Hawaiian to me. I thought it was so fitting for a surf brand.

I think that as surfers, we naturally connect with the ocean and nature in general and we want to protect it. I wanted to build a brand that does production locally, supports smaller manufacturers based in Garment District, Manhattan- a place with a very long history of quality garment making that in the times of mass production and fast fashion shrunk to a small percentage of what it once was.

Our print house is located in North Carolina and uses digital printing, so no water is wasted which is essential considering that the fashion industry is the second polluter of water on this planet.

Fabric is domestically made out of recycled materials as well as our packaging and labels.

My dream is to build a community around this brand on and offline and genuinely help women feel more confident and supported in the water. We are working hard out there, the last thing we need is to worry about wardrobe malfunctions:).

How does surfing influence your work?

Surfing is the reason for my brand's existence. I am always looking for ways to improve the designs and the ideas come from this experience and wishing a specific detail or style was available already.   

What inspires your creative vision?

Surfing, surfers and being in nature in general.

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your business?

Currently, I am a solopreneur,  which means that I have to wear very many hats. It is a challenge but also such a learning opportunity. I am experiencing growing pains for sure but also feel more alive on the professional front that I have in many, many years. It is such a blessing to be able to do what you love and hopefully help others through your work. I am in my first season but want to grow Anowi into a full lifestyle brand with wetsuits, after surf apparel, and surf accessories. I hope to create work for others that share the same vision and provide more business for my extraordinarily professional and quality oriented manufacturer, print house and fabric mill.

Who has influenced or inspired you?

I find women that participate in water sports despite all odds incredibly inspiring, whether it's a real pro like Bethany Hamilton, trailblazing big waves surfers like Keala Kennelly or a mother of four that is just getting her feet wet taking her first surf lessons despite her paralyzing fear of drowning. What connects us all despite the skill level, age or current life situation is the appreciation of nature and the ability to experience the pure joy of life through being close with the ocean.

What is your fabric made out of?

Our fabric is domestically made out of recycled polyester and spandex. We use REPREVE® high-quality recycled yarn made from post-consumer plastic bottles. Production of REPREVE® reduces energy consumption by 45%, water consumption by nearly 20% and greenhouse gas by over 30% compared to the creation of virgin polyester. Our fabric has an excellent recovery, and it's certified +50 UPF sun protection. Good for you and the planet!

Iwona Kapcia On Creating a Sustainable Surf Label for Women

What inspired you to launch this brand?

I wanted to see a brand that serves women in salt water sports with particular concentration those that are looking for highly functional, contemporary design with fun, sophisticated prints and solids that reflect our love for the ocean and mother nature. I thought that even small details like a pocket in your legging to put your sunscreen or a key in or a thumb hole to keep your sleeves in place would make a big difference. I was searching for styles that were super easy to slip and keep on, moved with me, and designed to flatter grown woman's bodies instead of making me feel insecure. I wanted sustainability to be non-negotiable and treated as the only way to operate a business.

I thought that there weren't enough options on the market that answer all these needs and that more women must feel this way, so I started Anowi Surfwear.

Where can people buy your swimwear?

Please visit our website to see the collection. All orders from the US and Canada ship free and international shipping is free with a minimum order of $180. Feel free to touch base with us if you have any questions regarding our brand.

For Creative Series readers you will get a special 10% discount on your first order, just enter code:

creative10 at the checkout.

Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just trust yourself and go for it. It will be a lot of learning but you will grow so much, and it will be all worth it even just because of that.

If there is a skill that your business would benefit from, invest time and if necessary money to learn it. You will be glad that you did.

Take good care of yourself, get enough sleep, find time to exercise and eat healthily.

Also, be sure to have your partner's and your family's support before embarking on this endeavour. Find your tribe of the like-minded entrepreneur on or offline, it will come in super handy on those darker days and be sure to seek the advice of those who walked a similar path before you for guidance.

Iwona Kapcia On Creating a Sustainable Surf Label for Women