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Psychedelic Honey ︱DOLPHIN ENERGY


Hi, Withitgirl (s)! So excited to have this conversation about sustainable fashion, especially during Plastic Free July. To me, microplastics are one of our generation's biggest problems. Microplastics last forever (100-1000 years) & are so pervasive that they can be found in remote glaciers & unborn babies. New research even confirms that once ingested, microplastics breach the blood brain barrier in 2 hours!


This could mean neurological disorders & diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s. In invertebrates, microplastics disrupt fertility, physical development, cognitive ability, & stress cells. While long-term studies haven’t been done on humans, I hope we don’t wait to find out…


And microplastics from fibers, like swim & activewear, are one of the worst & most common.

Don’t be fooled by greenwashing! Recycled swim and active STILL shed toxic microplastics AND will last 100 years (seven generations!)


This is why my small business, Psychedelic Honey (PH) Swim & Activewear, is made with only biodegradable fabrics and only in CA. From the first ever Biodegradable Nylon in my hand drawn prints to Organic Hemp to our new Deadstock Cotton surf changing dresses, PH is dedicated to leaving no trace. xo Kathie Mclean Lovelace

Where did you grow up, and anything you want to tell us about your background?


I had a rare upbringing as the only child in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara, Ca, in the early 90s. My dad was a carpenter and built out this big bohemian warehouse with rope swings, hidden doors, & a rooftop garden overlooking the pier & skate park. He had giant silk screens everywhere, a dark room & enlarger downstairs. We had artists renting rooms, my mom’s paintings, binders of fabric studies, bolts of fabrics & sewing machines everywhere.


I didn’t know we didn’t have money, as my parents demonstrated that we could make anything we could dream up. I did know, though, that we were living there illegally. But the owners were a kind, heritage fishing family that looked the other way as I carried my cat down the alley.


As an industrial marine-zoned neighborhood by the beach, this was where all the surfboards were once handmade. Our building was shared by Channel Islands Surfboard’s factory, Yater’s surfboard storage, and eventually, my husband, Ryan Lovelace, a wood shop, an electric guitar shop & the Surf Museum next door.


Ironically, I now live across the street on a boat in the harbor where my grandfather was a fisherman. In 2018, my husband and I built out a wooden trawler into a cute tiny home. We lived on a bus before that, haha. I love tiny homes for their low overhead & low impact on the Earth! We live here in the Summer and Hawaii the rest of the year.


When did you start surfing, what was your first board, and what are your boards now?


I surfed occasionally when I was young but didn’t get into it til my parents divorced at the start of high school. I didn’t want to be on land. Water has always soothed me & just rinsed away my worries. Even if only for a second, I jump in the ocean or river almost every day. And even just love showers, haha! No one taught me how to surf, though. There weren’t many female surfers growing up in Santa Barbara. The water is cold all year round and a winter-time sport as the Channel Islands block the Summer South swells. My dad surfed when he was young and became a skilled kayaker, getting barreled at the beach and paddling long distances on rivers. But he just encouraged being out in nature and taking care of nature.


My first board was an $80 used Yater from the Beach House across the street. I’d skate down the street & surf the beginner's wave. Then, my high school through college boyfriend was from the Hollister Ranch, so eventually, I spent a lot of time there, often the only girl in the lineup, learning extreme etiquette, and surfing his hand-me-down short boards. Now, I’m married to a shaper, Ryan Lovelace, so I get jaw-dropping gorgeous custom boards with pressed flowers, abalone, and vintage fabric inlays. Custom hand-shaped boards are truly a game changer for women! Most surfboards are machine-shaped and designed for men and don’t suit our body types or help us get into waves.


Most of the year in Hawaii, I ride a custom 7’0 Twin Fin I call the Dolphin Rocket for the vintage-looking dolphin spray job I did on it. I also steal my husband’s 8’1 FM twin when waves are small. And in California, I ride an 8’0 Flextail V Bowls.

What has surfing taught you?


I’m an average surfer, but I am good at reading the water. I think observing nature is an important teacher. You not only feel more connected, but you’re able to help when you see something is off. Like all the dead dolphins and sick seals on the beaches in Southern California right now. I wrote a blog post at PsychedelicHoney.com on Domoic Acid Poisoning a year ago when I noticed the problem started. Now, I can help usher tourists and kids away from the seals & explain why they are sick & need rest. I can build a fence of sticks encouraging space & call the wildlife rescue.


In the case of surfing, observing gives me an advantage. I often see before others when a set is coming and where it’s shifting. I can position myself or, in big waves, get out of the way, haha. Localism and learning surf etiquette informed me on how I move through the world. Learning to surf at the Hollister Ranch, I was taught extreme order in the line-up and still prefer it that way. There was always a clear rotation, your turn, and no snaking. If someone took a wave out of turn, an older local would call them out or send them in. If you showed up to surf and there were already eight people in the water, you’d wait on the beach til someone paddled in or surf a less desirable spot next to the main break & paddle over when someone left. And you never brought more than one friend. There is a reason for the order. It makes it more enjoyable and safe.


Just sit on the shoulder and wait a bit to catch a wave. Make sure everyone has had their turn, and paddle up after that, or when the lineup has emptied out - you’ll gain respect because you demonstrated respect. Smiling also helps:)

How did you come up with the name Psychedelic Honey?


I probably should have given my business name more thought, haha. But honestly, it just rolled off my tongue one day, and I went with it. To me, it means appreciation for nature's soul-expanding and surreal sweetness. My swim and activewear are intended to get women outside, connecting with nature and caring for it, sweating, smiling, and finding self-love.


What inspired you to start the PH? What are some of the barriers you had to overcome?


I promised never to go into the fashion industry, which is also responsible for polluting the earth I love!


I was an ambassador for Roxy when they started their Activewear division. I did a lot of product testing but felt like the improvements I wanted couldn’t be implemented because it was fast fashion and made in China. I felt like core styles should be given time to be improved upon. This is why my brand only has a small number of styles that are improved upon with each line. I’ve also only released five lines in seven years - making it very slow fashion, haha!


When I started my small business in 2016, activewear was still only sporty & neon, so I introduced retro and nature-inspired prints. Financially, I did an Indie-gogo to launch, traded a photographer a surfboard, traded hours working my husband’s surf shop for an office in the back, & still worked at a wellness spa and vegan restaurant til 2018. I did & still do almost everything myself, from the hand drawn prints and color correction, to line sheets and hang tags.

Being a small business with low overhead is important to me. At the end of my time with Roxy, they declared bankruptcy. I was shocked this was just a way of doing business for big surf brands. It seemed like such an unsustainable system. CEO get their paychecks, while sewers in foreign countries can legally be left hanging without payment for their work. This is why I only make small batches locally in California. Side note: I’m forever grateful for Roxy, the travel experiences, friendships with women across the world, and the support of the amazing people that worked behind the scenes. This is an overarching issue in the fashion industry.


When I started PH, I had no experience in the Fashion Industry, which helped me think & do things differently. I took a break between 2017 and 2018 after a series of natural disasters in my communities (Thomas Fire, Montecito Debris Flow, & Hanalei Flood) left me not wanting to contribute to climate change. I started researching biodegradable fabrics before going to my job at the restaurant, though I had no clue how to find them. I found my first manufacturer by wandering through the Los Angeles Fashion District and getting caught going through their dumpster, where I found the fabric I was looking for, haha.


In 2018, I was at a women’s circle, and by chance, I met a fashion lady. She instantly found me a small artisan mill in Italy that could create the new Biodegradable Nylon I was looking for. So, in 2018, PH became the first to import, print and sew with Biodegradable Nylons in California. We had to invent how to print on this new fabric type. The normal temperatures and speeds didn’t work. So, there was a lot of trial and error and color correcting.


Then suddenly, Covid happened. California shut down and manufacturers often closed due to outbreaks. We didn’t launch til 2021.

What is your creative process?


These days, most swim brands ‘shop’ from a manufacturer’s catalog of styles. They point to the style & the fabric swatch they want & it’s done. There is so much that goes into inventing a new product. From working directly with mills to create fabric, hand drawing the prints, color correcting, hand-drawing the paper patterns for the styles like our reversible front-to-back Gemini Top, having my mom sew the first samples lol, making 1/4” revisions to patterns, sewing new samples, finding the right type of elastic, changing those elastic measurements multiple times, grading (creating the sizes), to finally, hand drawing the woven labels & hang tags.


During the COVID lockdown, I invented our new surf changing dresses. I wanted something cute and cozy to put on after surfing to drive home in or pop into the grocery store. I didn’t want to get dressed, just to get undressed 20 minutes later to shower. So I would drive home at night in a towel that would often fall and leave me free balling on the freeway haha. I would cringe putting jeans over sandy feet in the parking lot when I had to stop at the market. And I was NOT about to buy those ugly plastic fabric ponchos designed for men.


In my sketchbook, I drew a hundred dresses and variants, haha. I started collecting the deadstock 100% cotton terry. (Deadstock Fabric is the remnants from other clothing brands, manufacturers, and mills that would otherwise go to waste as the amount is too little for mass production.) I had to put the project aside until Covid slowed, production could resume normally, and I had the finances. Now it’s alive and in the world on real life bodies!


Let's get into the Sustainability part - what makes a product more sustainable than another?


I’m no expert on sustainability, but I have learned SO much trying to create the most sustainable swim and activewear on earth. The tough part is that sustainability has a lot of grey areas. Because oftentimes, solving one problem, creates a new one. Take plastics, for example. When they were invented for everyday household use, it seemed like a great idea for them to last forever. Decades later, it’s clearly not so great.


For this reason, I think it’s most important as a consumer to think for yourself. Don’t just believe the branding or the paid sponsors. Learn to read labels. Period. You might have to do some research and weigh the pros & cons. For now, this is the only way to shop consciously.


Greenwashing is SO common in swim & activewear. If a brand says “Sustainable Swimwear,” please don’t believe them without finding out: what it’s made of & where it’s made. These are the two biggest factors that legally must be on the garment’s label.


Where it’s made, as you would with fruits and vegetables. Local is always best for the earth and community. It guarantees a lower carbon footprint and circulation of your dollar locally. So you are paying it forward and improving where you live. Most clothes are made overseas and take advantage of lower minimum wages. Sewers might only be paid dollars daily in unsafe environments with long days or underaged. PH is only made in CA, where sewers are paid the highest minimum wages in the US and have legal protections.


What it’s made of: I created a pyramid of fabric types to help you navigate this on our website, but in short, biodegradable is best (think natural fibers). Recycled is next. Virgin plastic fabrics like Poly and Nylon are a NO.


Always fix & alter your own clothes first! Trade & Shop Used.


No one likes paying a lot, but I think pricing is important to consider. If you break down the cost of a $30 garment into physical materials, equipment, time, wholesale cut or cost of a brick and mortar, etc., logically, you have to know someone is getting shorted, and it’s probably the sewer. So, you can assume it’s unethical.


Lastly, consider if the brand’s ethos matches its practices. If the brand releases one eco line, but the rest of its products are unsustainable, it’s a gimmick. It’s greenwashing. If they know how to make a sustainable product, they can make it all that way. They’re choosing profit.


Playlist from Psychedelic Honey! Thank you!


 

Additional Information


You can visit PH locally at their surf shop in Carpinteria, CA - Now serving Coffee!

Find them online: @500Maple or 500MapleShop.com

Learn more about sustainability on the Psychedelic Honey website

Follow PH on IG @psychedelic_honey_


Photo credits:

Sam Feyen photos of Bianca. Nisha Oliver photos of Lauren. MaiaPapaiya photos of the red Meadow Print Bikini


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