Leisure Muse: Casey Eastwell of Hakea Swim

Casey is the founder and designer behind Australian swimwear label Hakea Swim. Using recycled nylon, Casey designs timeless (both in quality and form) swimwear made for versatility. I can personally vouch for this — my two Hakea swim tanks I wear walking, swimming, surfing and out and about. Passionate about ocean conservation, travel, design and an advocate for women paving a unique path of their own, Casey shares the pros and cons of working for yourself, how she prioritises time outside, and her favourite travel spots.

For those that don't know, could you share a little about the Hakea Swim origin story?

In the midst of my design career, a longing for change began to take root, pulling me away from the city toward the ocean and a slower pace of life. Amidst this transition I found myself grappling with a glaring gap in the market – a lack of swim and surf wear that resonated with my personal style.

Daggy rash guards and tiny bikinis were dominating the surf scene's narrative at the time and finding something I felt confident to wear in the ocean that wasn’t either stylishly impractical, or ill-fitting, was near impossible. Hakea was my solution to functional, comfortable, sun protective swimwear I felt confident wearing. 

Having an appreciation for the ocean meant it was important to me that Hakea co-exist with the natural world, treading as lightly as possible and implementing sustainable practices through all facets of the business. 

One of my favourite things about Hakea is the way your swim is so multi-functional. I wear my Seams Boob Tube and Ran Tank religiously when I'm walking the lighty and want to swim after. Why is versatility so important in your designs? 

The versatility of our swim stems from a focus on both practicality and sustainability. I wanted to be able to walk, swim, surf and then throw on something light without needing multiple changes — especially when packing light for trips away. 

It makes more sense to me to invest in one high quality, multi-functional piece. Versatile styles increase the wearability and lower the cost-per-wear of a garment. A low cost-per-wear can be a good way to work out if you’ve made a good investment and helped curate a sustainable wardrobe.

Why is it important to have UPF swimwear (and not only SPF) as a form of sun protection when you're in the water? 

Similar to SPF, UPF is the level in which fabrics are rated for sun protection. Lighter fabrics will let some UV rays through, especially when wet such as a cotton t-shirt, whereas the fabric we use is tightly woven and rated UPF 50+, the highest rating. Wearing a rashguard means you can extend your time in the sun without having to apply sunscreen multiple times. As I’ve entered my 30’s I’m aware of how damaging sun exposure is, particularly to my décolletage and shoulders in the water.

How would you describe your personal design philosophy and what principles guide your design process?

Form and function is a design principle from university that’s really stuck with me. That something can be beautiful and serve a purpose. I have more of a minimalist aesthetic, I try to take classic styles and give them a modern edge without being too trend focused. The aim is to create timeless styles that can be worn for years to come. 

Travel is a big part of your life. What are your favourite destinations?

Travel definitely gives me a lot of inspiration and helps me tap into my creativity. I have a trip to Japan coming up which (like everyone else) I’m over the moon about. Marrakesh was a real highlight and surprisingly some of the landscape on the outskirts reminded me of Mparntwe (Alice Springs). And on two vastly different ends of the spectrum New York and Indonesia have a huge place in my heart. We’re launching a new section of the journal next month ‘Hakea Holiday Guide’ stay tuned! 

What skincare/suncare essentials do you always pack with you?

My skincare routine is pretty minimal however, I always pack the IT Cosmetics SPF 50+ CC cream for my face (great coverage and protection for melasma prone skin) and a tin of Sun Juju for the bod.

Spending more time outside in nature is a philosophy Hakea and Sun Juju both share. How do you bring the outside into your life more often?

I try to prioritise getting outside everyday whether that’s for a walk or a swim or a surf. I’ve found that it’s easier to achieve when you’re living by the ocean, but if I’m visiting Melbourne, I always manage to fit in a walk along the Merri Creek Trail. It instantly transports you out of the city whilst actually being right in the thick of it. 

What do you do to unwind and rest? 

There’s really nothing quite like the sun, sand and salt air to calm my mind and body.

What do you love most about working for yourself?

It’s a double-edged sword for me. Whilst I love the freedom to set my days up as I like and the variety of wearing many hats, they can also be the most stressful part about working for yourself — never really truly switching off and the juggle of switching back-and-forth between a creative and logical brain. Ultimately though Hakea is my passion, my creative baby, and connecting with women who resonate with the brand makes it all worthwhile. 

What tips would you give to those wanting to do the same?

Some of the best advice I’ve gathered along the way is to know what sort of business you want to set up and why.