Kauai News

Kīlauea Resident’s New Business Looks to Make Mark on Women’s Athletic Apparel

Posted March 29, 2022, 12:00 PM HST ·Updated March 29, 10:46 AM

Bridget Thorpe

A Kīlauea native returned to Kaua‘i has launched her own business on the Garden Isle.

SOL VAE, which fashions innovative, sustainable hybrid bras that support women on land or ocean — not to mention hot yoga studios — is the brainchild of Bridget Thorpe.

Thorpe founded the company out of the desire for a versatile, responsibly made product that supported an active lifestyle both on land and in water and what better place to do so than her home island?

“Whether it’s running on the beach or hiking to a waterfall, I wanted adequate support on land and flexibility to hop directly in the water without needing to find a place to change garments,” Thorpe told Kaua‘i Now News. ” I grew-up in Kīlauea, Kaua‘i and pursued a career helping global corporations become more sustainable. I’m deeply excited to be based home again, where we can grow and support our local economy.”

SOL VAE is a recent alumni of XLR8HI’s preX, a Hawai‘i-based entrepreneurial accelerator program geared toward empowering Hawai‘i founders and business owners by nurturing a culture of innovation within the state’s entrepreneurial community, a press release on the new business stated.

Thorpe’s idea began after she became aware of hybrid garments in men’s athletic wear, but saw the lack of similar qualities in women’s products. She then collaborated with design experts over years to manufacture and redefine the athletic staple for ladies. SOL VAE’s hybrid bras are designed in Hawai‘i, use regenerative fibers from Italy, and are cut and sewn in the USA, the business stated.

“What began as an effort to combine the best of my sports bra and swim tops, evolved into a multi-year journey of thoughtful product innovation alongside global sustainability and apparel experts,” Thorpe said. “We’re ready to help people rethink athleisure products and relationships, and grateful to share how we do business in Hawai‘i — where the community connects through a responsibility and stewardship of the environment.”

The sustainable athleisure market is projected to surpass $115 billion globally by 2027. Thorpe said she saw an opportunity to reimagine both product functionality through a woman’s perspective and development through the eyes of sustainability experts.

“I gained a behind-the-scenes look at how the largest companies in the world are advancing a more sustainable economy,” Thorpe said in the press release. “SOL VAE is launching carbon neutral for 2021, yet there is much work to be done. I look forward to all the places we’ll grow and learn as a community.”

Other aspects of  the new business: Thorpe said it uses minimal packaging and doesn’t photoshop women who model the apparel. 

Its two inaugural hybrid bras are available on its e-commerce store at https://solvae.co.

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