Caroline Danehy Co-Founded a Sustainable Swimwear Company while in College

Photo Jason Childs

Well Suited to Success

Four years ago Fair Harbor founder Caroline Danehy had a choice between college and starting a business. She chose both.

Chances are, your college days were a bit different from Caroline Danehy’s. Unless you simultaneously took board meetings while riding a surfboard (maybe not at the same time, but also, maybe) and found the energy to be a standout member of the Class of 2019.

Danehy, co-founded Fair Harbor Clothing with her older brother, Jake, just a few years ago, shortly before she began attending Colgate University. The super-focused siblings took their passion for surfing and a minimalist lifestyle and turned it into the basis of a sustainable swimsuit line, sourcing their product materials from upcycled plastic water bottles, keeping them out of both the ocean and the waste stream.

Caroline and Jake

While a majority of her classmates fell under the trance of senioritis after the second day of senior year in high school classes, Caroline began her journey as an entrepreneur. With college around the corner, she had a number of decisions to make concerning her own future and the concurrently developing future of Fair Harbor.

Family Ties

Colgate University was described by Caroline as a “family college,” resulting in the most natural reaction from all teens who are told what they should do; rebellion.  Although her brother was enrolled at Colgate at the time, Caroline saw past the “family school” title, and looked into the university for herself. She told us, “Growing up I didn’t want to go to school there at first, but the more I learned about Colgate, and the more I got involved with entrepreneurship program as a senior in high school, the more it became more appealing.”

Colgate did Caroline wonders as her and her brother developed and ran a business behind the scenes. Balancing twelve spinning plates on four poles, while juggling flaming batons on a unicycle, this girl can do it all: a member of a sorority, yoga instructor, full-time student, co-founder and creative director of a sustainable clothing brand. The list most likely continues but we could only interrogate Caroline about her life for so long. As stated above—she’s a busy lady who was already being generous with her time with us.

Balancing twelve spinning plates on four poles, while juggling flaming batons on a unicycle, she could do it all.

Making the entire mission of Fair Harbor real for Caroline was her semester abroad in Australia. It’s there she gained a global perception of how serious the issue of single-use plastic really is. “I studied in Sydney—it was wild how these pristine beaches were covered in plastic and waste,” she told us. Seeing the impact of plastic on the other side of the world taught her more than any textbook or lecture could.

“I got to see the Great Barrier Reef and see the devastating impact of climate change on a first-hand basis. This brought a new perspective to the issue and how passionate I was about it. It made it real for me on a worldwide basis.”

This further encouraged her passion for Fair Harbor along with all of the hard work that goes into being an entrepreneur at the age where most college kids are only focused on where the next party is. To do this, Caroline emphasized how important time management is for her. Scheduling out her days and weeks, she made time for Fair Harbor, class, exams, and personal life, admitting that after a while she procrastinated on school work maybe just a little. Which we all can definitely relate to.

Caroline’s average day was a different than what we did back in the college days. That brutal blare of the alarm rang for her at 6:45, and she worked her ass off all day, with almost no breaks, but making time for each important aspect of her life, with her day ending close to 10:00 p.m.  A typical day? After hosting a collaboration event in her hometown of Fair Harbor (which lent its name to the brand), she drove hours back to Colgate for her sorority formal, making it there by 10 p.m. to go out with her sisters.

Through all the balance and long nights in the library, Caroline came out on top with a degree in geography and a successful, sustainable business, that engulfs all of her passions, while making a positive difference for the environment. With support from her family and a great partnership with her older brother, we asked for her secret on how to do life like this, because let’s be honest, she’s got it going on.

And, well, she didn’t quite give us the algorithm to her success, but a great piece of advice:

“People think there’s a secret to this successful business and entrepreneurship but there’s not. It’s just hustling and because we have been so passionate, we have been persistent.”

Be a babe who hustles. That’s the secret. You’re welcome.