Founder of Byron Bay active wear brand Solsoya, Birralee Hassen says ethically minded brands can help reduce environmentally harmful consumerism and promote social cause.

Founded in 2014, Solsoya is a surf, yoga and active wear label made in Australia that, through its commitment to material made from recycled ocean plastic, promotes environmental awareness and conscious living. Birralee Hassen is a surfer, adventurer, dreamer and creator. Once sold out of a van, Solsoya has grown from small business venture to a burgeoning e-store that offers durable, brightly coloured leggings, crops, rashguards and swimwear. Amid the prints of vivid citrus fruit and swirling techno-colour, however, is a serious message about consumer responsibility.

“Solsoya is a platform for change – the people that support the brand are those who care about the wellbeing of themselves and of the planet,” said Birralee. “Unlike fast fashion, small Australian brands like Solsoya encourage consumers to learn about and remember the supply chain process, and the resources and people involved.”

Birralee said that although barriers to manufacturing in Australia persist, doing so is central to Solsoya’s ethos. “Though manufacturing at home costs more, I’ve been able to develop close relationships with the people involved at various stages of the production line, and be proud of supporting local industry,” said Birralee.

Solsoya’s range is made with 78 per cent ECONYL® Project yarn, which is made from regenerated waste including ghost fishing nets, plastic waste, yarn discards, fabric scraps and used nylon carpet. Operated by Aquafil, this yarn is 100 per cent re-generable.

Solsoya also promotes self-care and mental health. In 2017, wearing Solsoya active wear, Birralee cycled solo 1000 kilometres, from Portland, Oregon to Burning Man, Nevada, in the United States, during which she interviewed people she met along the way about their mental health journeys. She also recorded her own mental state to promote mind awareness.

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