Bedford gal’s swimwear: fashion with a cause
Friday, May 31, 2013
Lynn Faherty Zimmerman knows a little about blending a gentle sea breeze, a warm golden sun and the sensuous feel of swimwear made of fabric spun from recycled plastic bottles. The result is Faherty Brand, the swimwear company she and her twin brothers Mike and Alex have created.
Lynn moved from the New Jersey coast to Bedford around three years ago. When Hurricane Sandy hit her former hometown, she “went into help mode” and coordinated restaurant donations to feed relief workers; Faherty Brand also donates a portion of its sales to Sandy relief funds.
Faherty Brand, launched by Zimmerman’s brothers, is based in New York.
Zimmerman’s background in fashion magazines made her a sure bet to be tapped to promote the Faherty Brand, one that was just featured on The Today Show as the “Eco-Friendly Swimwear” company for Earth Day 2013.
How does a Jersey girl who is a busy mom and wife become involved in such a project, when low-cost, foreign-made swimwear and casuals abound at big box stores, malls and superstores that never close? She shares here some of her background and her aspirations in moving Faherty Brand onto a whole other level.
Q: What are some of your credentials that would show an affinity to helping a new company?
A: I was in the beauty/fashion/fitness magazine business for nearly 20 years. I worked on the business side and was enveloped in sales and promotions for my entire career. One of my best experiences was launching Lucky Magazine from Conde Nast Publications. This was the first magazine about shopping to hit the U.S. I love a good launch.
Q: Is shopping such a special topic that it rates its own magazine?
A: Well, in Japan, there are hundreds of magazines just on the topic of shopping. Since “Lucky” was the first shopping magazine in the U.S. we had to launch not only a magazine but an entirely new category. It was the only magazine that talked about what to buy, where to buy it and how much it costs. Lucky democratized style so you could get ideas on both the higher and lower price points.
Q: How did you decide on New Hampshire as your new home?
A: New Hampshire gives us more space to live and breathe. We are close enough to New York City and New Jersey so we can easily drive back. Since my husband and I love to ski, we have access to lots of great east coast skiing and Bedford has a wonderful school system for our children. Also, 40 minutes to see the ocean doesn’t hurt.
Q: What were some of your first activities after you moved to Bedford?
A: When we first moved here, I decided to tap into my creative side and make jewelry. I’m good at taking jewelry apart and recreating new pieces that appeal to my eye. It was great fun. I sold them out of a high-end boutique in New Jersey and gave them as gifts to family and friends as well as silent auctions. We also spent lots of time renovating our house.
Q: Did you find it easy to settle into a new home?
A: At first it was very challenging because the house needed a lot of care. After two and a half years it is almost fully renovated and life got a bit more manageable. Then Hurricane Sandy happened. I launched into help mode since it affected the towns I grew up in. Houses that were only six blocks from where I used to live full time were destroyed. Living up in New Hampshire allowed me to be physically removed from the chaos so I could think clearly and help. Since I know all of the restaurants at the shore, I was able to coordinate the feeding of relief workers. Maybe 50 emergency workers were fed for like a month from all kinds of donations. Even today, one percent of all the sales from Faherty Brand go to a Sandy relief fund. So many people from the Bedford community kicked in and helped too.
Q: Can you cite a few examples of local people’s efforts to help?
A: Crotched Mountain and Pat’s Peak donated cases of hand warmers and foot warmers to the Hurricane Relief workers. Michael Shaheen from Bedford, who works at Shaheen Brothers, a food company in Amesbury, Mass., donated 200 pounds of pasta, and cases of Gatorade. Another Bedford guy, Michael Trento, who was going to Jersey on another matter, offered to drive the Gatorade to Jersey, to get it to the victims in Sea Bright, N.J. Many families kicked in during a desperate time, including but not limited to John and Elizabeth Krueger, Tracey Healey, Ericca Schmitt, Regina Dixon, Susan Perdew, Becky Guibord, Ross Norwood, Teresa Avampato, Joya Shaheen and so many others. I wish I could name every person. My husband also transported many needed items.
In addition, Molly McCarthy, principal of Riddle Brook School, included in her notes information to parents on how they could help N.J. Shore schools recover. One of my favorite acts of kindness was that of the first-grade teachers at Riddle Brook. The had the first-graders participate by collecting money for doing extra chores at home. The money raised was able to purchase school supplies for schools in need. What a great lesson for the kids.
Q: How do you draw parallels between the seashore style of life and the swimwear/clothing business?
A: I come from a beach family. We had a house at the shore and people would always be over. After a day of playing in the ocean we always had big dinner parties. Since I’m one of seven kids it was always busy and festive. My brothers, who are 14 years younger than me, grew up with this vibe and their goal in life is to share it with the world.
Q: Would you say your brothers inherited their fashion sense?
A: My dad and step-mother – their mother – exude style so I think that my brother Mike, the designer of the two, lived the lifestyle.
Q: What’s so special about Faherty Brand garments?
A: The thing that’s special is the materials used. The fabric in all the apparel has a luxurious feel but is so eco-friendly. The manufacture requires approximately two-thirds less energy and almost 90 percent less water than the production of virgin polyester. The process reduces global hydrocarbons and discards that would otherwise end up on the ocean beaches and in landfills and other sources. The way its done creates less air and water and soil contamination. We use an average of seven plastic bottles per swimsuit. The knits have organic cotton. The special production of these garments put it in the premium clothing category.
Q: How can we get a look at the products?
A: You can make see the styles online at www.fahertybrand.com. You can also be a part of the journey and like us on Facebook. If you’re in New York, you can go by the studio, located at 54 W. 21st St., Unit 608. Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give a call at 212-243-7200, ahead of time to let them know you’d like to come and check out the product. We are launching with swimwear and are moving more towards clothing this summer for both men and women. We’re also building a custom made trailer to take the show on the road. It’s a trailer made in New Hampshire by Tyler Jackson from Haven Hill Builders. My brothers will be taking it around the country and selling from it. It’s like a beach shack on wheels.
Q: What would you say is the basic goal of an eco-friendly way of doing business?
A: We are saying that the way you create clothing does make a difference. We are setting a new standard for the future of clothing. So many clothing companies do not pay attention to the environment and we want to make a difference one piece of clothing at a time. Some companies we look up to include Patagonia and Whole Foods. In addition, we try to incorporate mindfulness in our corporate practice. So many people go to work and aren’t happy with what they do. What Mindfulness helps with is focusing more on the present moment, so your head is not stuck in regrets from the past or worries about the future. When you can train your brain to do this you react less and are more productive in a positive way. My kids even now try to practice mindfulness every night. My sister-in-law has CDs called “Mindfulness for Kids” you can request on her web site, The Mindful Mentors (www.themindfulmentors.com). This is what is needed in our schools to help the children stay calmer and less reactive. Research shows that with regular mindfulness practice, test scores in children increase 11 percent. It keeps your emotions intact, so you can focus on the task at hand.
Q: How does mindfulness relate to a brand of clothing?
A: The Faherty Brand mindset is all about being mindful. If we are stressed out, we take a few deep breaths and get it done. We’re mindful of the feel, the quality of the garment. Does it feel right? Are we doing something to save the environment? Are we making the world a better place? By working to protect our environment, especially the oceans, lakes and rivers that are central to our life’s passions, our hope is that the Faherty Brand not only represents a commitment to high-quality clothing but to ensuring a continued quality of life on the water for generations to come.
Q: Do people want this lifestyle?
A: Faherty Brand is the premium lifestyle clothing company you’ve always wanted. It uses the best quality products and provides that relaxed feeling you get when you are at the beach. The clothing has cool patterns, beautiful colors and allows you to be fashionable without taking yourself so seriously. Honestly, I could not be happier for my brothers. Being their older sister I’m so impressed with how far they’ve come and that they followed their dreams. They are a big inspiration. I’m so glad to be a part of this journey. Most importantly, if it wasn’t for my husband being so supportive, I might be less active with the company. No worries, he wants me to be happy. We’ve been together for 18 years and he’s my rock star.