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INTERVIEWS

WAY Copenhagen: Marie Schøyen, Jakob Lau and Christel Lerche

Sustainable, luxury travel accessories you can feel good about

WAY is a newly-launched resort brand, offering premium travel accessories with a distinct, sustainable approach to production. Based out of Copenhagen, the company caters to the world. Their inaugural wares are large, high-quality beach towels made from a combination of organic and recycled cotton. Green Collective spoke with the creators of WAY to talk about travel, sustainability, and inspiration.

Green Collective (GC)
A love of travel was the key motivator behind the launch of your brand. What other concepts or objects have inspired you?

Marie Schøyen (MS)
Generally, the inspiration for the brand has been movies from the 60’s and 70’s. Launching the brand, we were especially inspired by the French film “La Piscine” by Jacques Deray from 1969. It’s got a lot of great pool scenes that we loved, and undertones of sexuality, warmth, sun, and fun. Every time we look at colors, we’re very much inspired by the Mediterranean. The latest products are inspired by colors from Morocco.

GC
What exactly does sustainability mean to you, and how does it factor into your brand?

MS
It’s got a lot to do with respect. So in terms of production, we always try to consider what products we’re launching onto our website and in the market. We always consider how people are going to use it and how they’re going to continue to use it. We also try to choose the best materials to work with. We consider how it’s packaged, how it’s delivered, and how you can maybe reuse the packaging or anything that we add to the product.

"The hotels use so much water–actually, 50 million liters of water every day go into the washing of hotel towels."

Jakob Lau (JL)
Normally, when you would go to a hotel or a beach club you would always be given two towels, so it covers your entire sunbed. We want to make a towel that is big enough to cover an entire sunbed, but is still light enough to travel with. In connection to sustainability, we need to think of how we travel; not in terms of transportation, but how we consume when we travel. A big part of traveling and going to hotels is the towels, and a lot of people tend to just throw the towels on the floor every day. That’s why the hotels use so much water–actually 50 million liters of water every day go into the washing of hotel towels.

JL
In terms of packaging, we’ve designed everything around the towel to minimize a consumer’s footprint. This packaging is made of 100% organic cotton instead of any plastic. The packaging becomes a bag that you can actually use afterwards. We’re always thinking of the next step in terms of our consumer. What can they use? Our hang tags are made as postcards, for instance, so you don’t have to throw those out either.

GC
As far as the towels themselves, I know you take a lot of pride in how those are made. Could you talk a little bit about the materials you use?

MS
They’re made of 70% organic cotton, and 30% recycled cotton, and they’re made in Portugal. Luckily the towels don’t have to be shipped that far to get to Denmark, where we have everything stored.

JL
Our production partner in Portugal is a family owned business from the 70’s. In 2019 we visited the factory and we were very impressed by their know-how and facilities. They care at least as much about responsible production as we do which has earned them several certificates that make them a leading towel manufacturer in the industry.

MS
Everything is done under one roof. They get the cotton in and they spin it into yarn, and they dye it and they manufacture… so everything is done within the same company, which means that everything is controlled there. So they are much more able to make sure that all processes are as sustainable as possible, and also that the product doesn’t travel around the world, many times over.

GC
So to rewind a little bit, you said that your background was in fashion. Can you talk a little bit about how that influenced you in your current business?

JL
We’ve all been working more or less for 10 years in the fashion industry, mainly for high end fashion brands. And I have a background in communication and PR, where Marie has been in design, and Christel has been in production. So it’s sort of like the three competencies that are super valuable to starting a company like this, because all of the different fields have so much to do with sustainability, both in terms of how you make it and how you design a product that is durable, but also how to communicate it in a way so people actually understand what you’re doing.

GC
How has knowing about the fashion industry and different types of materials and styles influenced you?

MS
I think a big part of the problem with sustainability in the fashion industry as it is now is overproduction. There’s a missing link between the designer and the consumer. We want to minimize that gap by trying to not overproduce. So we’re hoping that going forward, we can do a different way of selling directly to the consumer so that they pre-order online, and then we start production afterwards.

"We try not to fall into that old pattern of doing business, of just always launching new things and selling half of it on sale. And just focusing on having really good products that people would buy year round."

JL
We wanted to make these towels seasonless, which means that we’re not restricted by the need to launch new products every third month. And the colors that we have, they will be in stock until they’re not; some we might even reproduce because they’re popular. We try to sort of, not fall into that old pattern of making business, of just always launching new things and selling half of it on sale. And just focusing on having really good products that people would buy year round.

GC
What do you see as the next step for you? What are some of your future plans that you either have in the works or have as an ultimate goal?

MS
We’re definitely hoping to branch out into southern Europe. And then, obviously, we’re looking into new products. When you travel, you might need other items on the beach, or by the pool. So we’re looking into what other things would be great for someone to bring in terms of accessories.

GC
What has travel meant to you, and how do you feel travel can effect change in the world?

MS
My mom was actually a travel agent. Growing up, we traveled quite a lot and went to some amazing places. When you travel, you broaden your horizon, and you see new cultures. I think that is probably one of the most inspiring things in the world, to see how other people live their lives. And you’re always going to be inspired by what they do and what they wear and what their culture is like.

JL
I think I’ve been traveling a bit differently from other people, because my parents have a house in southern Spain. So Spain is my second home, and we would go there four times every year. I even moved there as well for a couple of months. In the past maybe 5/10 years, I’ve travelled to new destinations to expand my own horizons because I feel like I haven’t seen enough of the world.

Christel Lerche (CL)
I’ve traveled every summer for the last many years, and I just enjoy relaxing and being on the beach, especially in Ibiza.

GC
Of course, people can’t really travel right now due to the pandemic. What are some things that you would suggest people could do to bring that sense of travel or wonder into their own home?

MS
Personally, I find it very difficult. But one thing that’s been interesting during the last year is that you can still broaden your horizon in your own neighborhood, or just by taking a one hour drive to somewhere you’ve never been.

JL
I think the previous year has sort of reminded us all how many great things we also have quite close to us. I mean, for us, it was probably the worst timing to launch a travel brand during a pandemic and a lockdown. But we’re so happy for all the great responses we’ve had on the brand. So we feel super fortunate that people have the imagination to also find experiences in their near environment, instead of always thinking that they need to travel across the world to get new input. Sometimes your next big experience is just around the corner.

KF
Is there anything else that is really important to you, or that you would love people to know about your product or your company?

JL
It’s quite important to also underline the fact that it’s not just about a towel. It’s about the whole lifestyle connected to it, and the sense of freedom, and also obviously escapism, exploring. We’re not selling just the towel, we’re addressing a lifestyle.

By Kristin Forte

Shop Designer
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
The luxurios beach towel is perfect for sunbathing or winter bathing and air dries
DKK900
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