Fair Harbor - Cleaning Beaches with Style

Fair Harbor is a brand new line of clothing made for the beach, but inspired by something bigger and something much more troublesome: plastic. The founders of Fair Harbor recognized a serious problem when it came to our oceans and beaches and they set out to fix it. The result is a gorgeous line of high performance boardshorts, each made from 11 recycled bottle of plastics. You can check out the whole line here or read the interview with co-founder Jake Danehy (just below!)

Hey Jake. Nice to meet you! First question, where are you from?

Hey Nick, It is nice to meet you too! I am from Larchmont, New York, which is just 30 minutes outside of NYC.

Who exactly is behind Fair Harbor?

Right now we have a three person team consisting of myself, my sister Caroline Danehy and my best friend from growing up, Sam Jacobson.

I am a senior at Colgate University majoring in Geography and a Goalie on the division 1 men’s lacrosse team.

Caroline is currently a freshman at Colgate. 

Sam is a senior at USC in southern California and Majoring in business and social entrepreneurship.

Can you describe Fair Harbor in three lines or less?

Fair Harbor Clothing is an active lifestyle brand, inspired by our past and the simplicity of summer. At Fair Harbor we make all of our bathing suits out of recycled plastic bottles; each boardshort directly removes 11 plastic bottles from the environment, turning them into a stylish, functional bathing suit.

11 bottles for one boardshort

Where did the original Fair Harbor idea originate

Two years ago I was sitting in one of my geography classes learning about how much plastic waste leaches into our environment every day and into the oceans in particular. I love surfing and grew up practically on the beach, so after learning these facts about plastic waste I became very frustrated and wanted to do something.

Because of our love for surfing and being outdoors, we wanted to create a boardshort line that was sustainable, comfortable, stylish and a brand that promoted the lifestyle of simple living and sustainability.

One of our main goals at Fair Harbor is to promote recycling and spatial awareness among our generation.

You guys pitched Shark Tank at Colgate University. How did that go?

I am going to be honest, I was a little nervous before I got up to pitch in front of the celebrity panel and the 2,000 plus people in the audience, but It was an absolutely amazing experience and we are so thankful for the opportunity.

Thankfully it went really well and we had a great response from both the audience and the panel. With our winnings from the panel we were able to fund our first round of boardshort production.

You can see our presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4hslLH7eI0

[Editor's note, the Sharks included: Jessica Alba Neil Blumenthal, Jennifer Hyman, MC Hammer, Greg Coleman, Dan Rosensweig and David Fialkow]

Where do you guys find all the bottles required to make a full line of boardshorts?

We actually work with a company in North Carolina who collects the bottles and transforms them into yarn for us. That yarn is then woven into fabric, died and printed to our specifications.

How did you find the right partners to produce the Fair Harbor boardshorts?

We have been working with many parties. Our best resource has been our advisor and consultant, Diane Walker who has made all of this possible. Diane has helped us bring together our supply chain. She is the President of Sweenie Manufacturing.

You guys have a great blog about solutions and problems concerning the sustainability of our planet. You have a great post about microbeads (which to be honest, I didn’t even know existed). You also have a post that claims that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. That’s scary stuff. Are you guys scared or optimistic about the future?

One of our amazing interns, Georgia McIntyre has been running our blog and doing a great job.

Last semester I did an independent study on plastic waste and its effect on our environment and the oceans in particular. Microbeads have been a huge problem, but thankfully they are getting banned through legislation pretty quickly.

I really try to be optimistic about our ocean plastic problem, but until major steps are taken it will just keep getting worse. There are some very promising projects out there such as Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup project.

Although we are young, we really care about our oceans and want to make a big impact. Fair Harbor is allowing us to make that difference in the fashion industry, while still being college students.

I strongly believe in the power of sustainable business and although we can’t do it alone, I think that enough people care about the oceans and are becoming aware of the problem.


Although we are young, we really care about our oceans and want to make a big impact. Fair Harbor is allowing us to make that difference in the fashion industry, while still being college students.


Is it possible to learn about your co-founder Sam’s background? If I’m not mistaken, he’s worked in Africa before?

Sam is a really interesting guy. He spent his rising junior summer in South Africa living in a very poor area, teaching the townspeople and children how to run sustainable businesses and manage them.

After that, Sam studied business for a semester in Honk Kong, China. This worked out very well for us because Sam was able to check in with our fabric factory there.

Sam and I grew up together in Larchmont, New York and played on the same hockey team for ten years.

When is the new line coming out?

Our new line is already available for pre-order on our website, and will be officially “out” in the middle of March.

What is your favorite pair of shorts in the new collection?

That's a very hard question. I really do love them all. If I had to pick one though it would have to be the Blue Beacon’s.

Looking ahead, do you see Fair Harbor expanding into women’s swimming suits? I’ve seen other brands do boardshorts out of recycled bottles but I have never seen that in a bikini.

Once we perfect our boardshorts and define our place in the market we will definitely move onto women. I think my sister Caroline will be very happy about that!

Coffee or tea?

That is another tough one, but I would have to say coffee. I do love my cup of coffee in the morning to get me going. [Editor's note: You passed the test!]

What brands do you currently look up to?

Our friend and mentor Andrew Parietti started a company called Outdoor Voices. I really love the interesting twist they have taken on the active wear industry and how great their products are.

In addition, I really like Faherty Brand and what Mike and Alex have done with it.

What is the best book that you have read in the last year?

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Do you have any mentors or inspirational characters that have helped you fulfill this project?

We are part of an entrepreneurship incubator on the Colgate campus called TIA. All of the mentors and alumni have been extremely helpful and supportive along the way!

Any local secrets if I ever make my way down to Fire Island?

The best fish tacos I’ve ever had are in Saltaire! This local spot is situated right around the corner from the post office across from the bay.

Jake, thank you so much for your time! Where can people learn more about Fair Harbor and yourself?

Thank you so much Nick!

Check out our website, Fairharborclothing.com or shoot me a line at jake.danehy@fairharborclothing.com

Also follow us on Instagram @fairharbor


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