Keeping it Clean with Caroline Danehy

Co-founder of Colgate’s favorite surf/swimwear/clothing brand, Caroline Danehy, alongside her brother, Jake, took advantage of Colgate’s Thought In Action (TIA) program for young entrepreneurs to kickstart an innovative business idea. Fair Harbor is no regular clothing brand: the two siblings have dedicated their company to sustainability and protecting the environment. Fair Harbor’s signature boardshorts and swim trunks are made using recycled plastic bottles, and all of their clothing and swimwear is designed from unique and sustainable materials. The brand's taglines are "Keep it Clean" to promote their environmental initiatives, and "Seas the Day" to emphasize the importance of living a happy, simple lifestyle. Caroline and Jake’s brand is deeply valued among the Colgate community, and you will spot Fair Harbor hats and clothing whenever walking around campus.

I had the opportunity to interview Caroline and discuss what Fair Harbor is up to now. The brand has grown so much since Jake and Caroline founded it, including the launch of a women’s swimwear line this past summer, and we can’t wait to see how successful it will continue to be in the future.

Q: What are your thoughts on the swimwear line launched this past summer? Do you think that Fair Harbor will continue to grow the women’s swimwear category in the future?

A: With each season of swimwear we’re constantly looking for ways to improve and evolve the brand. This summer we launched our women’s line, which was incredibly exciting for me and released a few new men’s pieces. This was the first summer doing women’s, and it was a great learning experience. We initially came out with three one pieces and eleven bikini styles. As we traveled around to trunk shows, and sold in our own Pop-Up Shop in Brookfield Place, we heard direct feedback and response from customers. We are focusing on perfecting both our men’s and women’s lines and then will expand into a full lifestyle brand.

In the men’s department, we came out with two performance swim shorts: The Anchor (with a built in compression short) and The Rockaway Boardshort. Made from recycled plastic bottles and upcycled coconuts, these shorts are flexible and extremely quick drying.

Q: Is there anything super exciting that you’re working on now?

A: Next week we are officially launching The Compass Pant, which is an extension of our best-selling one short. So, stay tuned!

Q: Will you guys be having anymore pop-ups at Colgate or are you more focused on actual clothing stores now?

A: We have been using our Bootstrap model since we started, which focuses on traveling up and down the East Coast having trunk shows and Pop-Up Shops. This summer we were at Brookfield Place and had our own Pop-Up, which was really successful. While it’s a little hard to sell swimwear in the middle of winter in Upstate New York, I’ll definitely have a pop-up before Spring Break! The Colgate community has been incredibly supportive throughout the years, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without it.

Q: Do you have a favorite Fair Harbor item out right now?

A: My favorite summer go-to was the Champlain Bikini. The top is comfortable and supportive, while the cheeky bottoms are a bit more trendy. I love the sleek, seamless finish on this bikini -- I even wear the top as a bandeau under shirts.

Learn more about how Fair Harbor started here!