Andrea Picasso : MONA
It’s Earth Day, and the first day of Fashion Revolution Week, and what better way to celebrate than to share about Andrea Picasso, the founder and designer of MONA, a swim, surf and fitness wear lifestyle brand that functions on the principals of building community. The line originally attracted me with it’s vibrant eco-friendly designs; once I learned more about Andrea and her story of creating MONA, I knew I had to share here. Read along to learn about MONA’s story, trademarked material, and impact.
How did you come up with the idea to start Mona?
I always wanted to create my own brand. My life brought my heart to Costa Rica about 8 years ago. I shortly became a surf instructor to be able to make a living for myself in this place that was becoming my new home. I would coach girls from different parts of the world. All of them along with my new surfer girl friends in town were my initial inspiration to create MONA. Every week I would witness this life transformation experience that our clients would go through while learning to surf, facing their fears and connecting deeper with themselves. I wanted to design functional yet flattering swimwear for all these women to wear with confidence and pride and take a piece of their transformational experience back home with them. MONA started with a few bathing suits sewn for myself but it was really the encouragement of many women that kept the dream alive and kept me designing more and more. Now we are producing large quantities in California and shipping all over the world.
How did you choose the name Mona?
I wanted a short name, easy to remember and to pronounce in different languages. I called the brand MONA which means female monkey in Spanish but is also an old-school way of describing a cute, refined girl. The name MONA represents the perfect combination of an elegant girl rooted in her wild and raw true nature.
What is Seatex fabric, and why is it important that Mona utilizes this fabric instead of traditional swimwear materials like nylon, spandex or lycra?
Mona Seatex™ Fabric is a high-performance recycled fabric. While it’s extremely strong and chlorine resistant, it’s also lightweight, soft and breathable. This combination provides a perfect balance between comfort and durability on our pieces. The nylon used in Mona Seatex™ Fabric is 100% regenerated and is derived from post consumer waste reclaimed from the ocean and other environmental sources. This includes mainly abandoned fishing nets and other discarded plastics. Additionally, Mona Seatex™ Fabric is highly resistant to oil and sunscreen absorption. This helps keep harmful pollutants out of our delicate ocean ecosystems.
In general, 70% of a company’s environmental impact happens at the raw material level. We build products by making every decision with the highest care for the environment and the people we work with. From choosing a partner to selecting a fabric, we base our choices on how we can lower our footprint.
Avoiding the production of regular nylon and polyester for our fabrics blend, we repurpose thousands of pounds of fishing nets, save thousands of barrels of crude oil and prevent many tons of CO2 emissions. This approach to reducing waste, water usage, and pollution is a vital first step in driving the apparel industry towards a more sustainable future.
Why are fair wages and responsible production important?
We are deeply committed to protecting the environment and promoting a more sustainable future for the entire apparel industry. Manufacturing locally, in California, means we ensure high quality control in every piece and help reduce our carbon footprint compared to producing overseas. Mona believes in kindness and respect for all. We believe in empowering the people who make our products. We treat our team like family and work with only the most ethical suppliers. Our team makes wages they are proud of and in turn they put the most love and care into our products.
What would you say the three non-negotiable principles of your brand are?
Making high quality products; our commitment to using sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing; staying transparent with our business practices and authentic with our audience.
What has been the most challenging part of creating a line that focuses on sustainable and ethical practices?
I believe that every step we make is a big challenge in the evolution of MONA. We are constantly researching and learning to innovate and make a difference. Focusing on sustainable and ethical practices is our mantra and the whole team is driven by the same mission of wanting to do better every day. We have found it both thrilling and challenging to educate our audience about our sustainable practices, like the materials we use, but we have gotten really great feedback from everyone so far. One of the most challenging parts is realizing that there is always a path to do good and not everybody is aware of it, and in the end that impacts all of us and the planet we live on.
“Focusing on sustainable and ethical practices is our mantra and the whole team is driven by the same mission of wanting to do better every day.”
You have a new line in the works, can you give us any inside information about that?
We do have some exciting new things! We have designed our very first eco friendly yoga/fitness line with fabric made out of 100% recycled PET plastic bottle filament. We are lovers of the ocean but also lovers of the land. We wanted to create a whole collection to support women in movement. The fabric is so dreamy and breathable, it feels like second skin.
If you could leave readers with one piece of advice or encouragement about being kind to the planet and its inhabitants, what would it be?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” That quote really means a lot to us. Change starts with each and everyone of us and the daily decisions we make. If you recognize a problem or that something should be done different, INNOVATE solutions for yourself to work towards that and inspire the people around you to make a change/difference too.