Updated: Seea Founder on Collaboration with Textured Waves

Editor’s note: The story was updated at 12:30 pm with details about how Seea has navigated the coronavirus crisis.

Industry swim brand Seea is having a big week.

The brand released its collaboration with Textured Waves, an online platform designed by four surfers and women of color to normalize diversity in the surf world.

The collaboration includes a short film “Sea Us Now” which premiered Tuesday night and included a digital panel discussion led by Selema Masekela with the Textured Waves team – Gigi Lucas, Martina Duran, Danielle Black Lyons and Chelsea Woody.

The film is inspired by African American beach culture and vintage surf culture and inserts the women of Textured Waves into an era when surf culture was just beginning to become popular on the mainland.

We followed up with Seea Founder Amanda Chinchelli to find out more about the collaboration, which started long before the current civil rights movement.

How and when did you meet the women at Textured Waves?

Amanda Chinchelli: Our friendship was born out of mutual admiration.

Last October, I was on social media when I came across Textured Waves. I was so stoked and inspired to see a diverse collective of women surfers, so I sent them a message right away introducing myself and Seea and letting them know that we would love to collaborate with them in any way that would interest them. It just happened that one of their founders, Chelsea Woody, was in town, so we met the next day at the Seea HQ. This was the first of many conversations and collaborative sessions that I’ve come to cherish and appreciate so deeply.

I’m so grateful that the creation of Seea has helped me cross paths with inspiring and empowering women like the Textured Waves ladies.

Why did you think a collaboration would be a good fit with Seea?

Amanda Chinchelli: Like other Seea collaborations, this one came very organically and was born out of a shared desire to seek sustainable change in surfing.

I acknowledge that the surfing world is guilty of not doing enough. From not showcasing enough diversity in our lineup and ambassadors, to not being more vocal and active in racial and social justice causes, we’ve let our community down.

As an individual, mother, and founder of a business built around the human connection to each other and the sea, I want to use Seea to bring untold stories to light and give strength to voices fighting for equal representation and respect in the surf community. Textured Waves owns a story, voice, and perspective that we’re so honored to be able to rally around and amplify.

How are the two brands working together? What are the components of the collaboration.

Amanda Chinchelli: To be clear, this film was the vision of Textured Waves, and Seea provided a blank slate to bring that vision to life and ensure that their narrative was told through their own voices.

Through Seea, we’ve worked hard to build a platform to educate, share stories that create shared empathy, and call our tribe to action, so we focused on bringing that to the table and removing ourselves from creative outside of providing our Summer ’20 collection to be worn throughout the film.

Chelsea provided a beautiful and compelling storyboard that struck me as something that needed to be brought to life by any means, and she also recommended our director, Bethany Mollenkoff, who helped us tell this story in a way that no one else could.

Can you talk a little bit about the timing – that the collaboration is coming out at this exact moment when so much has happened?

Amanda Chinchelli: We have been planning this campaign for several months now and obviously had no idea of what was ahead of us. Overall, we’re glad that this film is being released now, when there’s an increased appetite to confront injustice and start dialog about everything we’ve either been too blind to see or have been turning a blind eye to.

We started planning in November of last year and we had many bumps across the way, but we did it. We finished filming a week before we went into quarantine, came back from our trip, and then didn’t leave our houses for three months – what feels like a lifetime away from the making of this film, the forming of these friendships and traveling to surf.

It gives us goosebumps to release this project now, and yet we feel it is a necessary offering to the world that is long overdue.

On another note, how did Seea weather the lockdowns and challenges at wholesale? Have people been buying swim suits this spring?

Amanda Chinchelli: Fielding blanket cancellations from large wholesale partners is particularly challenging for a business of our size. Luckily, we were able to adjust our summer production quickly and avoid being over inventoried for summer. The ironic thing is that for our retail partners who consciously chose to take the risk and bring in suits in April / May, swim sales have been strong, and in many cases, have actually eclipsed 2019 numbers, provided they had a well integrated and effective online sales platform prior to the arrival of the pandemic.

Now that many brick-and-mortar retailers have finally been able to open their doors, we are doing our best to create a plan to provide them with current product for the summer, harnessing our nimbleness, local production, and catalog of on-hand fabrics. We’re also doing our best to help retailers out with extended dating and payment incentives for product that landed right before lockdown, although this is also extremely challenging, given our size and that we’re a wholly owned and self funded company. The bottom line is that we’ve made strong connections and friendships growing this brand over the last 10 years, so I do believe we’ll get through this together, with a healthy dose of humanity and understanding, on both sides.

For DTC, our business has bounced back from initial declines in March and April, with stronger than ever sales in both May and month-to-date for June. Honestly, the consistency of our consumer’s support has been the guiding force in our decision making process on so many levels. Their willingness to support our donation match programs to SUAY shop in April and May, and now the ACLU in June, is both reassuring of the state of humanity on a whole and is certainly heartwarming to me personally. I’m really so fed up with what’s going on out there socially and politically, we are ready to take a stand as a company, and I think that Seea customers are ready to take that step with us.