It was while executing a hasty exit from a surf boat to breastfeed her baby that Amy Spiekerman came up with the idea for her business, Ocean Mumma.
Contorting her togs to feed her young daughter, the active young mother thought, “There’s got to be an easier way.”
“I’ve lived in swimwear my whole life, going from competitive swimming to surf lifesaving,” says Amy, 32, who decided to take matters into her own hands and design pregnancy and breastfeeding-friendly swimwear. “I found it frustrating not having swimwear that met my needs.”
It’s a venture she fits around her working life as a paramedic. And while it’s taken many late nights and moments snatched with napping babes to make her business dream a reality, Amy knows it’s all worth it.
Launched in January last year, Ocean Mumma was ready just in time for Amy to test it herself after giving birth to her second daughter Layla, now nine months.
“Life is absolute chaos at the moment, but I like to be busy and I want my daughters to know they can do anything they put their minds too,” she explains.
From their coastal Paekākāriki home, Amy tells how she loves that her business incorporates things close to her heart – motherhood and the ocean.
“I’m a lover of all forms of water, but especially the ocean, since forever,” says Amy, who is also mum to four-year-old Lexie with husband Dwight, 42.
“Having been a surf lifeguard for the past 18 years – and spending my life at the beach or in the ocean – it was really important to me that my swimwear does not come at the cost of the environment.”
And so she set out to find an eco-friendly fabric solution to divert waste from ending up in the sea. Amy also donates a percentage of each sale to conservation organisation Live Ocean.
There’s a synchronicity, Amy tells, that discarded fishing nets are among the waste that’s been regenerated into her creations.
“Our swimwear is created from upcycled, regenerated nylon yarn made from waste such as plastic bottles, fabric scraps, carpet fluff, industrial plastics and fishing nets, saving them from ending up in landfills and in our oceans.
“This waste is melted down and made into plastic chips before being made into fabric fibres.”
Each metre of fabric used is made up of 78 percent recycled nylon from waste and 22 percent is elastane.
Making sure she found a supplier that aligned with her values has been a challenge, but worth it to be working with a Bali-based solar-powered factory supplier, who also donates to grassroots organisations and supports women’s education.
“I want women to feel comfortable and confident in their swimwear and make memories with their little ones,” enthuses Amy.
“With my second pregnancy, I’ve really struggled to accept my post-partum body. Being someone who has never really struggled with this before, it gave me a new insight into how many women – too many – feel daily and reminded me why Ocean Mumma was started.”
Amy hopes this commitment to self-acceptance and love will have a positive effect on her girls as they grow up.
“They’re so amazing, I don’t want them to be so caught up in their body image,” tells Amy. “I’m trying to role model that, ‘Yes, my body has changed because I had two babies and that’s just life.’
“Because I come from a paramedic background, with Lexie we’ve been really open. I don’t want to hide anything about how the body works.”
With this in mind, Amy has plans to be more inclusive of post-partum bodies and women in different seasons of life by expanding the brand’s sizes to 8-20.
Continually in awe of the women in her own world, Amy has named each style of swimsuit after women who have been by her side, inspiring and supporting her as she tackles motherhood.
“The Cathy swimsuit, for example, is named after my mum, who is always supporting me and giving me advice on how to grow a business while being the ultimate role model.
“The Helen swimsuit is named after my amazing grandma, who is a mother of eight children, including my mum. The Elly bikini top is named after my Oma.”
Many friends and, of course, her cherished daughters Lexie and Layla – have also gained naming rights as Amy builds a legacy to be proud of.
“It’s a little scary and out of my comfort zone, but that also feels like a good thing.”