Contributing Gear Editor

Sensi Graves, practicing what she preaches. Photo: Courtesy of Sensi Graves Swim

The Inertia

For female surfers, finding secure swimwear is a challenge. A professional kiteboarder based out of Hood River, Oregon, Sensi Graves was tired of flimsy swimwear, so she decided to take things into her own hands and began creating her own suits. Not only did Graves want to make secure, stay-put swimwear, but she also wanted her suits to be stylish with minimal impact on the environment. She got to work, creating and testing suits and in 2012, Sensi Graves Swim was born. Here, Graves shares what inspired her to start her brand, her efforts in sustainability, and how she ensures her suits will stay put.

What inspired you to start Sensi Graves Swim?

First and foremost, I wanted a suit that would stay put. I needed something that would keep up with me while surfing, kiting, and coaching. I was tired of suits that were only designed to be beautiful or only designed to be functional. I wanted a combination of functionality and femininity.

Secondly, I was fed up with how swimwear was marketed – only showing women lying on the beach, not out doing things. I didn’t feel represented by the bikini brands on the market and wanted to create a new brand, one that empowered and celebrated women in water sports and made women feel like they could do it. I wanted to create a movement around uplifting and helping women see themselves crushing it on the water so they could go out and do the same.

Finally, I wanted to create a brand that supported female athletes. I wanted to be able to pay women what they were worth and help female athletes achieve their goals. I was tired of feeling undervalued and wanted to make an impact utilizing my own dollars.

What is your mission?

To empower women in water sports. At an individual level, my mission is to help people that look successful on the outside feel successful on the inside. I believe that when people believe in themselves and their inherent worth, they are able to spread more love and more connection because they operate from a place of whole-heartedness. They feel confident and able to share their unique, amazing humanness with the world, because they have a deep, inherent trust that they are worthy and enough, just as they are, no matter what they do.  

How has the company evolved since its foundation 10 years ago?

We’ve evolved so much it’s tough to qualify everything into a few sentences. Over the years, in terms of the product, we’ve transitioned to utilizing all sustainable materials, we joined 1 % for the Planet, and we started off-setting all our carbon through Climate Neutral. Our designs have evolved and the quality has vastly improved.

What do you do to ensure you suits are secure?

We design with functionality in mind. This means no hardware, and styles that are proven to stay put. Every body is different and therefore some styles work better than others. We make a variety of suits to serve as many humans as possible.

Who tests your suits?

We have a team of athletes: kiters, surfers, wake boarders, and yogis that help test the suits. We’re looking for pieces that are comfortable to wear, work for a variety of body types, are durable, and stay on in rough conditions. It’s a tall order!

What efforts are you making to produce eco-friendly products?

I almost didn’t start this brand because I didn’t want to manufacture more stuff. I didn’t think the world truly needed more bikinis. But then I read Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard and I realized that I could have impact and influence by building a brand that did it better, that did it the right way.

Today we utilize all recycled fabrics, made from recycled plastic bottles and reclaimed fishing nets. We use recycled hang tags and organic cotton strings. We don’t use any plastic in our packaging. We ship in compostable poly bags and use compostable hygienic liners. We manufacture in the USA and have ethical manufacturing. We donate one percent of sales to environmental groups and we pay to offset all our carbon.

Tell us about your newest collection. What are some of the updates to it?

Our newest collection is made entirely from deadstock fabrics. This season we decided that we didn’t want to produce more fabric and instead utilize what is already on hand. Deadstock fabrics are materials that are left over from other brand’s production runs (excess inventory that was never cut or used) or excess stock from mill’s production runs.

For 2023, we decided to create a collection entirely from fabrics that already exist in the world. That way we reduce our footprint even more (no need to waste water and materials producing new fabrics, no need to ship that fabric across the world). We’re excited to debut suits that take advantage of materials already in play in the world.

What are your future plans and goals?

My current focus is on uplifting and empowering women (and men) through speaking. I love to speak on empowering topics and how cultivating a confident mindset leads to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled life. I believe the best investment you can make is in yourself and personally I’ve found great joy in listening to inspiring speakers.

Our future goals as a brand are to create more community-driven events for female water sports athletes and help them feel confident and worthy, just as they are!


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.