FIRED UP: Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult recreational marijuana use, but a walk down many city streets might indicate higher numbers.
As more states are trying to follow similar paths, two CBD-supporting fashion executives are forging their own inroads with Mary Jane Swim. Cofounders Diane Walker and Stacey Demar borrowed from the street name for pot for their own company’s name.
They needed only three months to pull together their company, having started Sweenie Manufacturing in 2008 to produce swimwear and manufacturing for other brands. After discovering and trying CBD, the non-psychoactive property of cannabis, 18 months ago, they said they found it to be life changing in alleviating arthritis back pain, bulging discs and other sports injuries.
A portion of sales will benefit Athletes for Care, an organization started by former professional athletes who advocate for research, education and compassion in relation to health issues. “They’re pro-cannabis but they’re also looking after the health issues that former athletes are facing as well as the general public with the opioid crisis. We’re both active and this is against the stoner culture, which a lot of people see cannabis based in. It hasn’t really crossed over into fashion yet. It’s really big in New York in food, beverage, fitness, and in beauty obviously, cannabis and CBD is everywhere. Athletes for Care is really looking at the big picture for heath and wellness, and so are we as far as what we can do here to promote a healthy, active lifestyle incorporating CBD and cannabis.”
Taking a subtle approach with the label’s marijuana leaf-inspired designs, the pair is trying to normalize cannabis and promote CBD. “Obviously, there is a huge opioid crisis and I am lucky enough to have not been sucked into that. I’ve just been in chronic pain for years,” Demar said.
Targeting Millennials, the brand will initially be sold direct-to-consumer starting in March with the first of what will be nine capsule collection drops. Mary Jane Swim also has strategic partners in the cannabis space in New York and Los Angeles, which Demar described as “very collaborative and very small.” Alliances have been made with such cannabis media companies as Dope magazine and Emerald magazine, and cannabis-loving influencers. Mary Jane Swim will also host pop-up stores soles in dispensaries and coffee shops. Recognizing that the swimwear space is crowded, Demar said, “We’re the only people who can be in this space — for now.”
Women’s tanks and bikinis will retail for $100 and men’s swimwear will sell for $65. Next season’s plan will include incorporating earth-friendly fabrics like hemp and organic cotton, as well as extending into more of a lifestyle brand with Hawaiian shirts, cover-ups, beach towels and button-down shirts. Nine new cannabis-inspired prints will be introduced.
Walker worked for many years in Europe and Asia in design, sourcing and production management for such mass marketers as Walmart, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Forever 21. Demar, a sports and fitness leader, spent 15 years at the Chelsea Piers Sports Center. With Mary Jane Swim, Walker focuses more on the design side and Demar handles business development and marketing. Once Mary Jane Swim is fired up, they hope to have a presence at next year’s Coachella and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.