We met Saanti (founder of SunseekCo) this year in Costa Rica while she was working with Surf With Amigas. We love her enthusiasm for life, her handmade swimwear, and the serendipitous moment of learning that she has been a Yoga Trade member for years. Here we catch up with Saanti to learn more about how she has created a life of travel + yoga + joy that revolves around the sea and celebrates the beauty of women.
What is your relationship with yoga?
Yoga for me is self care. It’s a time to come to my mat, check in with myself, and assess what my body/soul/mind is needing at that moment. Sometimes I come to the mat and all I end up doing is lying on my back and stretching my knees up towards my chest. Other times I need to get my blood pumping and I’ll be on my mat for an hour doing a heavy vinyasa flow. If I’m surfing or sewing a lot, yoga becomes a huge part of my body maintenance. I come to the mat each morning, assess what is stiff or sore or not feeling 100% and focus on those areas. Sewing and surfing can be hard on the body but yoga everyday helps me feel great.
Tell us about your experience with Yoga Trade?
I have been a member of Yoga Trade since 2014! I first heard about Yoga Trade when I was traveling around South East Asia and a fellow traveler told me about it as a great way to get yoga related jobs while on the go. I got my first job though Yoga Trade a few months later with a yoga meditation center in Cambodia. This was before I had my yoga teacher certification, but I had fallen in love with yoga at age 13 and had been practicing almost daily since. In Cambodia I worked as a hostess at the yoga meditation center and it was a wonderful experience. I really dove deep into my practice of yoga and meditation and after being at the center for two months I was ready to get my yoga teacher certification which I completed in Costa Rica in 2016.
Another passion of yours is the surf and sea. How has the ocean influenced your life and why do you think surfing and yoga are so complimentary?
The ocean is my happy place. I feel best when I see the sea everyday and even better when I get to experience her raw power when catching waves. I grew up in a small fishing town in Alaska and while no one was surfing there at the time I was always interested in surfing and it’s a big reason I decided to move to California for college. As I mentioned, yoga and surfing have always gone hand in hand for me. Having strength and flexibility are very important for surfing, and yoga has helped me maintain both whether I’m surfing a lot or not. Not to mention that the ocean tends to rock you and throw you around and I am forever grateful to yoga for helping me realign my body and making me feel good after taking a beating from a big wave.
You are also an entrepreneur! Tell us about your business!
My business is called SunseekCo; it’s a small handmade swimwear business based out of my home studio in Bayside, California and run solely by me! I design and hand sew each suit and specialize in making made-to-order custom suits through my Etsy Shop. My business embraces the spirit of slow fashion and a new era where we need to turn away from the mass production fashion practices that are so damaging to our environment. Through my Etsy Shop, shoppers can choose a style of top or bottom and then I will custom make their suit in their size and the fabrics they choose. With the handmade to order system, only after orders are placed will I start handcrafting the individual pieces. By doing this, I lower my carbon footprint by only creating what has been ordered, which helps to eliminate overproduction and waste. In addition, the fabric I use to make my swimwear is made from post consumer plastic, and as an ocean lover and steward of our planet, this feels like the only ethical way to produce garments. My swimwear is also fully reversible and seamless so it’s incredibly comfy! The goal has always been to design comfy bikinis that we can wear all day and create flattering cuts that make every woman feel comfortable and beautiful in their body. Creating custom swimwear that’s eco friendly and flattering is my passion. Handmade to order, sustainable swimwear, that’s SunseekCo in a nutshell.
When and how did you learn how to sew?
I got a job at Kokatat a few years ago which is a local company in Arcata, California that makes drysuits for whitewater rafting and kayaking. I had no sewing experience before working there besides using my mother’s sewing machine a handful of times growing up, but I already had the dream to have my own swimwear business, and learning how to sew seemed like the very first step. I worked at Kotatat for seven months on the production floor sewing drysuits and becoming comfortable with industrial sewing machines. Towards the end of my time there the staff started giving me special projects of items they hadn’t made in a long time and I figured out that I was able to sew them by looking at the finished product. The knowledge of this skill gave me the confidence to leave Kokatat and start broadening my knowledge of sewing and clothing construction. After Kokatat I was hired part time to work at another small business in Arcata called Sacred Geometrix. There I learned techniques for cutting fabric and making and sizing patterns as well as a lot of insight on how to run a small business. This is a super small company, there were only four of us working there, including the two owners, so I learned a lot!
How do you weave yoga philosophies into your daily life and business?
Yoga has given me the mindset to take things as they are. This has allowed me to be gentle with myself and forgiving, just as I am when I come to the mat in the morning with a stiff or achy body. Yoga has always helped me focus on being in the moment, not getting too carried away with the big picture, taking each thing one day at a time and slowly building skills, whether it be relaxation, stillness, flexibility, strength, sewing skills, or business knowledge.
What wisdom can you share with people who want to start their own business but don’t know where to start?
My advice would be to start slowly at the very beginning. If you need a certain skill for starting your business, start there. Do research on how other businesses similar to the one you want to develop got started. Be patient with yourself and keep gathering skills and then just go for it! My plan was to go to fashion design school before I launched SunseekCo but I got to the point where I had gained enough skill and experience that I knew I could try it out small-scale. Having my own business has allowed me to have so much freedom in my lifestyle and focus on what I am passionate about! I am just coming back from a two and a half month long ‘work’ trip to Costa Rica where I was teaching yoga, surfing, and also traveling with my sewing machine and a suitcase full of fabric. I was able to test my bikinis where they were designed to be worn- in the surf. Additionally I met amazing women surfers along the way and was able to get tons of photos and video footage of them surfing in my bikinis. This was also an incredibly valuable time for me creatively to come up with new designs and see what lady surfers need from their surf suits. As the owner of my business I was able to close my custom shop for a few months while I went on this trip, and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever done for myself. So yes, starting my own business has been a wonderful experience for me. There are still lots of things I am learning and working out along the way but I will figure them out in due time. I encourage anyone with a passion to go for it! It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life!
What is most important to you right now?
It’s always tough to pinpoint just one thing but in the end it always comes down to creating balance in my life. Last summer was my first summer with SunseekCo and I was totally out of balance, I could not believe how much demand there was for my swimwear and I was working around the clock to keep up. When I was in Costa Rica the past few months I reached a level of balance that made my heart soar; surfing, yoga, a custom bikini order here and there, and lots of time to be creative and dream up new designs. This bikini season I am really embracing the slow fashion aspect of my business and have lengthened production times to four to six weeks so that I can get in a surf every day and go on some camping trips. For me, balance has always been key to feeling my best and this year I plan to put it into practice.
Anything else you would like to share…..
My custom swimwear shop will be opening back up on April 20th! https://www.etsy.com/shop/SunseekCo
Also, if you are interested in following along with my entrepreneurial journey and seeing cute swimsuits check out my Instagram page: @sunseekco
Saanti is a surfer, yogini, and the sole force behind SunseekCo, a handmade swimwear brand she runs out of her bedroom sewing studio in Bayside, California. Saanti grew up in Alaska and moved to California when she was 18. She just spent the last two and a half months in Costa Rica living Pura Vida, teaching yoga for Surf with Amigas surf and yoga retreats, and traveling with her sewing machine and a suitcase full of fabric. “The dream for years has always been to live on the beach, surf, and sling bikinis, so when the opportunity presents itself you take your handmade swimwear business with you and make custom bikinis for the girls!”