Swimwear designer draws the line at fishing waste - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Swimwear designer draws the line at fishing waste

18 Jan 2022

An Animal Ecology graduate who has expanded her passion for the marine environment to designing swimwear made from recycled fishing nets is a finalist in a national competition for aspiring young female entrepreneurs.

Ellana ‘El’ Pierce, who graduated from the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2020, is one of five finalists from across Australia invited to pitch their ideas to judges ‘shark tank-style’ at Questacon in Canberra on 16 February 2022.

The 23-year-old currently living at Banksia Beach won the popular vote category of the Kickstarter Challenge out of 82 entries that gained more than 8,000 votes in total on social media over four months last year.

El, who is moving to Cairns, worked as a research assistant after graduation, including with USC’s Seaweed Research Group at its Bribie Island facility, while pursuing her sustainable swimwear line ‘El Adrift’, made from the nylon of fishing nets removed from the ocean.

“I love working hard to get closer to my dream of making a difference while still being creative and using my skills,” she said. “I am so grateful for the Kickstarter Challenge opportunity and excited to be prepping for the finals.”

All five finalists of the challenge, presented by the Accelerator for Enterprising Women and launched last May by the Prime Minister, will share in seed funding, business mentorship support from Visa, and a place in Future Women’s ‘Jobs Academy’.

El said she loved the conservation, business management and tourism aspects of her Animal Ecology degree, which also widened her career options.

“I feel that my experiences and growth through uni allowed me to overcome my fears to launch into my business,” she said.

“When I applied to USC, I wanted a tailored, individual learning experience – and that’s what I got! It was one of the best decisions I have made.

“I loved uni. The degree grew my fascination with the ocean and my drive to make a difference in ocean conservation.”

El intends to show through her business that science and technology “can go hand-in-hand with fashion, beauty and fun”.

“It’s easier than we think to make a difference in what we believe in,” she said.

“I aim to clean the ocean of industrial waste and discarded fishing nets that are detrimental to marine species, and to encourage conscious consumerism in the fashion industry.”

She has already appeared in a segment on Channel 10 News after launching her startup from her kitchen table earlier last year.

Related programs

Related articles

Top honour for graduate who ignored advice she shouldn’t go to uni
12 Apr

Told she wasn’t “university material” in high school, Belgium-born Liesbeth Borburgh never anticipated more than a decade later she would receive the highest academic honour for a graduating student from a university on the other side of the world.

Graduating dad opts to sit with kids – to watch mum cross the stage instead
10 Apr

Only one of them will cross the stage at a University of the Sunshine Coast graduation ceremony this week but husband and wife graduating students Clayton and Lisa James wouldn’t have it any other way

Medallist defies the odds on inspiring academic journey
5 May

University of the Sunshine Coast’s Chancellor’s Medallist Kristy Benson has proven she likes to defy expectations, even her own.

Contact: media@usc.edu.au

Name Position Email Phone
Janelle Kirkland Media Manager (Acting) jkirklan@usc.edu.au +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Coordinator cmckay@usc.edu.au +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for Recent news