Sunshine, Palmtrees on white beaches with clear blue water! The closest you can get to perfection. Add a splash of bright colour and happy vibrant young people. This is the setting that you can enjoy with us, on our wonderful shoot in Mombasa, Kenya.
Seeing the beautiful coral island in a bay of the Indian Ocean, on the East Coast of Kenya, makes it easy to see why it was named Mombasa, (Island of war). History tells us that Mombasa was successively controlled by many countries, being so well positioned on the Trade route. Today Mombasa boasts with an International airport and prominent Port, making it the second largest city in Kenya, Mombasa is a melting pot of diverse cultures and people. It is the center of the coastal tourism in Kenya. The town of Mombasa is centered on Mombasa Island, but extends to the mainland via two creeks. You will know that you have arrived as soon as you see the historical Elephant tusks, that was erected by the British government in 1950,
Saying the name “Chasing Bees” out loud sets a wonderful picture of sunshine and happiness. Going hand in hand with Pintuck Resort brand for ladies swimwear, rounds this amazing couple’s idea of beach and swimwear off to a T.
Let’s get to know Jeff Liss and Jo Springthorpe from Chasing Bees shop in Plettenberg Bay.
IF YOU CAN GIVE US A SHORT SUMMARY OF THE PATH THAT LED UP TO BEING THE FOUNDER AND OWNER OF CHASING BEES
JEFF: I spent a career of 10 years in garment manufacturing and 24 years in the fashion retail sector. Later years working for corporate fashion retail and shifting from commercial fashion buying, into taking up the portfolios of corporate social investment, ethical sourcing and sustainable business practices.
JO: I studied a Graphic Art degree where my passion for design and colour all started. My first job was being a Junior designer in the Advertising Industry. Moving to Cape Town I gained a lot of experience and knowledge as an assistant for Michael Donnelly a Photographer. That took me to being a fashion Stylist for his shoots, and that led to doing freelance fashion editorials for leading magazines.
BEING ESTABLISHED IN THE FASHION WORLD, WHICH POSITIONS STOOD OUT FOR YOU?
JEFF: During my time in the fashion industry I watched the gradual collapse of a once thriving and competitive South African garment industry at the hands of cheaper product sourced from India, China and Asia, this trend was global in fashion eventually worldwide retail. Fashion culture moving into a mindset of cheap buy, use a few times and throw away because it was made affordable to do so. Major fashion retailers worldwide pushed consumption in multi purchase garments by volumes because they were cheap, focus was quantity and not necessarily quality.
New ranges of fresh colours were used as the vehicle to entice the consumer to throw out and buy more. As we should all be aware, the increase in cotton production has taken its own toll, the cotton crop consumes large volumes of water and requires widespread use of pesticides. The list is long on energy usage, fabric finishes, dyes, and many other by by-products of fashion when it comes considering negative environmental impact. Further to this is added unfair labour and child labour practices in chasing production costs down. Higher volume of garments result in an increase throw away goods with substantial impact on landfills across the planet. Disillusioned by what I had witnessed over the years I decided to start my own business. Chasing Bees was hatched
JO: When I turned 30 I joined Ford Models in their Classic Division in USA, for the catalogue business and travelled America and beyond for 5 years. I did freelance styling for J Crew and Saks 5th Avenue. Back in SA, I did styling for Daniel Hechter, Truworths Man, LTD. My time as Fashion Editor and then Director for various publications – Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Instyle SA, gave me the opportunity to be super creative and working with amazing trusting editors.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO FOCUS ON SWIMWEAR LINES FOR MEN AND WOMAN?
JEFF: Living in Cape Town and spending much of our time surfing and living a coastal lifestyle made it an easy decision to specialise in beachwear. I started CHASING BEES with one product, the Swim Short.
JO: I was sitting on the beach in Cape Town thinking that I can’t find a swimming costume to my liking anywhere. There was either a Granny costume or a tiny Bikini. That was where it all started! I made a few swimwear styles based on my favourite shapes that I brought back from New York. The difference was that I wanted to do my own prints.
JO CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PRINTING ON YOUR SWIMWEAR:
My love for mainly vintage and old retro printing and African colours gave me the print side of Pintuck Resort. The swimwear range has some key core styles that have developed over the years. I try to achieve the #foreverybody as best possible. There are cozzies for women age 16 to 90. Blank fabric, that is specialised swimwear fabric, is imported into South Africa as it is not produced in this country. The PINTUCK RESORT prints are always new and developing because I am obsessed by them.
JEFF TELL US AS FOUNDER WHAT YOUR VISION WAS WITH CHASING BEES AS COMPANY.
The company is based on two footings: LOCAL SUPPLY as best possible down the vertical supply chain. And second, to commit a portion of the business profit to worthy natural ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION. Our product mission is aimed at playing our part in reversing the global drive towards cheap throw away fashion. We invest large amounts of time and effort dedicated to getting to this point.
We believe in our product, we make it from the best possible material and skill, the product will last for a long time, our styling and design is timeless and sophisticated, we accord an appropriate price tag, we do not push our customer to buy more than one. In other words it is not necessary to overconsume.
IS CHASING BEES COMPANY A FAMILY VENTURE?
Five years down the line together with my wife Jo, my daughter Sherri and my son Oscar, we have as a family grown the product range to include swimwear as well as a fine quality linen outerwear range and cotton prints. Needless to say that we have a varying range of accessories to our mainstay apparel.
We all take responsible for areas pertaining to our relative strengths and encourage much cross pollination in product design and ideas to add value to our final product and the Chasing Bees experience.
WHAT IS YOUR FINAL MESSAGE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEND OUT TO OUR READERS?
On purchasing a CHASING BEES product you will be buying the best quality at the right price. The garment is timeless and will last for many years. You do not need more than one, because our individual effort to slow excessive consumption, which we believe is an aggressive agent in environmental degradation and the threat of irreversible global climate warming.