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Meet Hannah McDermott of Santos Swim in Pacific Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah McDermott.

Hannah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It’s been almost four years since I left my regular job and bought a one-way ticket to the other side of the world with the idea of starting a swimwear company. The journey has been a wild one, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, our planet, and the fashion industry along the way. Growing up by the beach, I was raised with a love for the ocean and respect for our coastlines. We would always try to leave the beach a little cleaner than we found it, but I had no idea how immensely trash was truly affecting our environment.

My sustainability journey began in college when I was recruited to work at Tesla Motors in Los Angeles. I’ve always loved new technology, and the fact that Tesla was pioneering sustainable transportation sparked my interest immediately. I was studying marketing + graphic design at Loyola Marymount University at the time and was hired into a sales position. I learned everything there was to know about both gas and electric vehicles in the 2.5 years I worked there and was happy to educate people about ways to minimize their carbon footprint by driving electric. I realized that I thrive on this sustainability dialogue and am driven by a passion to positively impact the planet. I wanted to take that conversation back to my beach roots, and that’s where the idea of Santos Swim was born.

Although LA has plenty of beaches, I felt the need to get out of my bubble and explore a new part of the world to start this venture. People thought I was crazy to leave my well-paid job, sell my car, and give away my clothes before hopping on a plane to Bali, Indonesia, for an undetermined amount of time. But sometimes that’s what it takes. After six months of traveling, I returned to California full of inspiration and was ready to get to work, balancing part-time jobs with launching my business. Fast-forward three more years and my first collection, The Bali Collection, is now available online!

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a long and challenging process to get from my initial sketches to the final products. I don’t have a fashion design background, can’t sew anything beyond necessary patch jobs, and have no experience working for a swimwear company. I do have a wide range of experience from my freelance graphic design job to retail sales to executive assistant with plenty more in between. I also have a lifetime of finding the right swimwear fits, a love of traveling to new places and a lot of determination. The final products reflect all of these things and it felt amazing to finally perfect the fit after our long sampling process.

Much of the past few years has been trial and error, resulting in the need to switch manufacturing partners after one year of development. Thankfully last year I found an online accelerator program called Factory45. This program is designed specifically for entrepreneurs looking to launch a company in the sustainable fashion space. It was just what I needed.

The fashion industry is very secretive by nature and trying to get “in” without a fashion background can seem like an uphill battle. From finding suppliers and manufacturers to learning the lingo, it’s a full-time job to just understand the whole process. Shannon Lohr, the founder of Factory45, brought industry experts in to answer our specific questions and her program encompassed everything from sourcing to launch. By focusing on sustainable business practices, Factory45 allowed me to make informed decisions when it came time to move forward with production.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Santos Swim – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Santos Swim is a globally-conscious swimwear brand with timeless designs inspired by world travels. As a company, we are committed to ethical and sustainable practices from manufacturing to final packaging. All our suits are made with 78% ECONYL® regenerated nylon, which is 100% made from pre and post-consumer waste.

Materials such as recovered ghost fishing nets, fabric scraps from mills, carpet flooring, and industrial plastic from landfills are collected globally before being put through a radical regeneration and purification process. The result is ECONYL® regenerated nylon that has the same quality as virgin nylon and is created solely from materials that were once considered waste.

Santos Swim donates 1% of each sale to Healthy Seas, the environmental initiative that works with volunteer divers and fishing communities to collect abandoned fishing nets to be turned into ECONYL® regenerated nylon. This not only helps protect marine habitats but also educates people about the need for a circular economy to repurpose waste. I’m proud that as a company Santos Swim is able to spread this message and encourage people to think about new solutions to environmental issues.

Our manufacturing partner is located in Bali and is held to high ethical standards including fair wages, safe working conditions, and medical insurance for both employees and their families. We visited Bali during the production process and were able to work with them to perfect the final details. The team does an amazing job and I couldn’t be happier with how the suits came out!

Each Santos Swim suit is designed to be multifunctional, whether it doubles as a yoga top or bodysuit or can be worn reversed. Our recyclable mailers are made from 100% recycled materials and the hygienic liners in the suits are compostable. Through my designs, I hope to inspire others to explore the globe mindfully and experience unique journeys of their own. Shop online at and find us at pop-up events this year.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
I love being able to see the ocean every day and living in such an active city. It really uplifts my mood getting outside each day! However, on my daily walks with my dogs, I’ve been seeing more and more trash scattered in the streets. We have such a beautiful city, and we need to work together to keep it clean.


  • Swimsuit separates range from $55 to $130

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brad Longworth
Cecilia McDermott

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