Zealous is a sustainable surfwear company that is based in Bali. Nowadays, it is centred around creating high-quality pieces that empower women to give life all they’ve got…without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction.
I got the chance to sit down with founder Marie last week to ask her a few questions about the company.
What is the story behind the name Zealous?
When I was 19, I decided I wanted to start my own clothing line that prioritised practicality. I was actually on holiday with my family in the mountains of Italy when I realised I would need a brand name, and so I turned to the dictionary… well, the online dictionary.
I translated the word freedom from German to English, and the example sentence was “to be zealous for freedom”. The world Zealous caught my eye, and when I looked into it, I found that it means to be enthusiastic and inspired by something. That embodied what I wanted for my brand, and so I have been using it ever since!
Describe your brand in 5 words
Not taking ourselves too seriously
What inspired you to create your pieces in Bali?
I spent six months in Bali in 2014 as part of a university semester abroad. Before moving, I considered giving up Zealous because my vision was so much bigger than what I could realise in Germany. I wanted to do something big, something that inspired girls to start surfing.
In the taxi to my apartment from the airport, I noticed there were tailors everywhere, and I began to see a new path for Zealous. Within two months, I started working with tailors and learning the local language, and that is where everything really began. At the end of my semester abroad, I simply couldn’t leave. So, I left the wintery beanies behind and shifted focus to street and sustainable surfwear.
Today Zealous is working with three different factories and agencies and two independent tailors and screen printers.
What is your favourite piece?
My favourite piece originated from a collaboration with Zala Cuden, my first brand ambassador. It was a one-piece with an open back and the perfect bum coverage, printed with Zala’s lavender palm print that gives you an instant tan!
What has been the biggest hurdle you have faced while creating Zealous?
I don’t think there is one big hurdle; there have just been a lot of minor ones. That being said, some of them feel like major ones; for example, having products produced that don’t meet our standards is always tough. I have to think about if it can be fixed, whether it should be sold at a discount, if the fabric can be reused, if it can’t be sold etc. While they can feel like major hurdles at the end of the day, I truly believe everything will find a way, and it will somehow work out.
What are your future goals for Zealous (in terms of sustainability)?
Zealous is a surf brand. We love to be in the ocean and want to make a positive impact while protecting our environment.
I am already calculating all the carbon emissions that Zealous is producing while creating our sustainable surfwear and working with companies like atmosfair in Germany to help offset these emissions. We are also part of 1% for the Planet®️ and have been for four or five years. These commitments mean that one percent of all my sales, not profit but revenue, goes towards raising environmental awareness.
Looking toward the future, my goals are to make Zealous products and its supply chain carbon-neutral too and use more recycled fabrics, which is not as easy as it seems. I am not using recycled fabrics for all pieces, partly because they come with carbon emissions from transportation.
What is the thing you are most proud of about Zealous?
This is a question I had to think about for a long time. It has always been my dream to run my own surf shop, and I have always thought about doing a Zealous store. I have had the calculations done for the past five years, and in April 2022, I took the leap and opened my own surf shop here in Uluwatu. I will never forget the moment I stood in my store for the first time after the renovations had been done, and I had happy tears.
From my chat with Maire, it is easy to see the passion and love that has gone into creating Zealous. Seeing a company that has put so much effort into creating stylish pieces, breaking down stereotypes and empowering women to feel not only comfortable but confident in their togs (swimwear for you non-kiwi folk) is fantastic. So when you add to that the fact the pieces are sustainable, practical, and designed to be used, loved and lived in, I think you are onto a winning combination.