Woman I admire: Inna Popova on her journey to creating a sustainable bikini transformer
Growing up in Kazakhstan, Inna was raised by a traditional family. As a culture of women being telescoped with education, she was expected to get a degree. Her father is a geologist so she had to become a geologist, too. Her career in geology reached great heights – she worked in Australia as a mine geologist then, later on, developed business for a New Zealand Company in Europe. Inna realised that she was good at building people’s business from scratch so when she reached a crossroad in her career, she decided to take a different path.
At some point, I realised that I was not happy. I knew something was missing. I also discovered that I was good at growing other people’s business. That was the time when I felt a strong calling – I wanted to have my own business! I wanted to be excited about what I do, come to work and have fun! I wanted to be creative and make a difference. I knew that my company had to be built around my two favourite activities: travelling and sewing. I am a dreamer and believe that anything is possible! So, if I think that I want to become a Swimwear Designer at 35, it is easy.
For many societies, women are always expected something when they reach the age of 35: we are told that at this age, we should be married, have a house, get a dog, and have children. 35 sounds “old.” 35 sounds “it’s too late.” 35 sounds “you’re going to spend the rest of your life alone.” But for Inna, there is no age in doing something that makes you excited and full of life. I am only 31 years old but Inna inspired me to get rid of the obsolete ideas of who women should be when we reach a certain age.
And so, her journey to sewing and traveling began. She slowly built her own brand called Miss Cosmopolita. Inna started traveling at the age of 22. She left Kazakhstan to study in the USA. At the time, social media was not a thing so she made a newsletter for her family and friends to keep them in the loop. She called this newsletter, Diaries of an American Student. In this series of newsletter, she told her story about US road trips and National Parks. She confesses that Grand Canyon was the place that took her heart away. After this study abroad escapade, she realized that in order to truly explore a country, she should live in it. This is when she started moving: The UK, Australia, Russia, South East Asia, Spain etc.
My favourite way to travel is by car and no plans, no destinations. No research as well. I don’t like to be influenced. I love discovering and stumbling upon places. South East Asia is my favourite destination. The countries there are so diverse and interesting. I like learning about their cultures, taste food and enjoy nature. I love finding locals and sit with them, ask questions about their lives – it is fascinating. I believe that if you haven’t travelled, you haven’t lived. You kind of stuck thinking from one perspective. I think that travel transforms you in a way you would never have imagined. And this is the best part of travelling, not taking photos with an Iconic location.
One day, during a long walk down the streets of Barcelona, the idea of a Bikini Transformer came to Inna. She is so fond of having multiple sets of swimwear but she was also bothered by the fact that it takes so much space in her luggage. What if there was a multi-functional piece that would allow women to buy less bikinis? She thought. Of course, this also evolved into another thing that Inna is passionate about: zero waste and sustainability. If there is one bikini that will give you a lot of options to change, it generates less waste.
These days, cheap bikinis are the once women fancy to buy: less money, more sets. We like to have different looks but little did we know that fast fashion is creating an environmental crisis. According to The Conversation, the rise of fast fashion in Australia means 6000 kg of clothing is dumped in landfill every 10 minutes. All over the world, nearly 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry. It takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. About 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor. This waste rate has been tolerated industry-wide for decades. According to Christina Dean, waste generated in China is not known, with estimates that China will soon make 50% of the world’s clothing – the indications for textile waste there are mind-blowing. Daily in Hong Kong, there are 253 tons of textiles sent to landfill.
The idea was to create a multi-functional piece that would allow buying less. I wanted to create more looks and generate less waste. Seeing polluted beaches in South East Asia made a significant impact on me! The places I loved so much were overflowing with waste! This was the turning point for me – I decided to use recycled materials and to help to raise awareness around sustainability.
For Inna, sustainability is a way of life. It is generating less waste and educating others. She believes that living in less waste should start with an individual – it has to start with you! When you do it, the message is conveyed to the people around you — family, community, city, country and later on, the world. There are some things we can be doing right now to minimise waste and help the planet. Inna’s most simple step in her daily life is avoiding one-time use plastic. When she is in a supermarket, she doesn’t pack every fruit in a bag and she brings a reusable shopping bag all the time. I am aware that recycling is super difficult – it’s so much easier to toss things in the trash when they don’t have “value” to us anymore. But I have to agree with Inna on this – we can also stop being lazy and recycle what we use.
I think if every person thinks about it and do best they can do, we will begin having more sustainable businesses. My worry is though that people still think it is not about them! It is somewhere on the news, and that the politics will have to think about it. They also tell me not to show them disturbing images of ocean pollution etc. People don’t want to see or hear. We need a revolution, and I think it is coming!
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Introducing the new build your own Bikini set with Miss Cosmopolita Bikini Transformer. It is sustainable, versatile and fun to play with! Their ultimate goal is to raise awareness around sustainability through this fun concept.
Tired of thinking about which bikini to take with you on your next trip? You don’t have to bring all your swimwear with you. This swimwear gives you many looks in one set! You can build your own bikini set by choosing bikini parts that you like: bases, cups, straps, bottoms. The parts are sold separately, you can add new looks to your swimwear by getting additional parts. This way you can follow fashion trends! You don’t need to buy new bikinis, you can simply buy another set of cups.
It saves you money! You buy 1 swimsuit instead of many. This is fun. This is sustainable living.
Miss Cosmopolita uses ultra-resistant Italian fabrics made from recycled yarn. The yarn is produced from regenerated nylon, such as reclaimed fishnets, carpets, and other nylon waste. They also use digital printing to reduce the footprint and to improve the longevity of the product. It is perfect for travelers, girls on the go and women that need that extra versatility.
Who are your inspirational women?
Can you relate to Inna’s story? Isn’t she inspiring? I’d love to know who inspires you the most and why – leave your thoughts in the comment box below!