Hello, I’m Liz, founder and creator of Sesh Sun! I dreamt of a year long surf trip from San Diego to Hawaii, Tahiti to Fiji, making my way to Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. I wanted to travel light with a backpack and surfboard bag. When I added up the pack list, that goal felt unachievable, specifically with beach gear: a changing poncho, beach blanket, towel and dry bag. I woke up at 4:00 am with an idea, “why not create one item with all these functions?”
To understand why multi-use items are important to me, let’s rewind to 2015 in the next picture.
In 2015, I left my career as an NBC News Reporter to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. From April to August & from Mexico towards Canada, I carried everything I needed on my back. My backpack started at 40 pounds, as my distance increased, my pack weight decreased. I learned to bring only necessities with every item having three uses.
This is the point in life I learned, “the lighter your bags, the less baggage you have” - figuratively and literally.
My foundation of ultralight packing began on the Pacific Crest Trail and solidified in 2018. I moved into a Mercedes Sprinter with a fixed number of square feet to pack your entire life. There I went again, throwing away unnecessary apparel and household items and mandating every item I own has more than one use. I started showing people my solo female #VanLife on Youtube and Instagram as @WildByTheMile.
Remember when COVID-19 changed our lives Spring 2020? As the owner of a video production company, I lost my main client and spent a few weeks feeling lack of purpose. I dove into research and creation mode for my 4:00 am poncho idea while borders closed and traveling wasn't obtainable.
I learned to sew in 9th grade Home Ec. 20 years later, May of 2020, I told my mom the poncho idea while visiting my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. We dusted off the sewing machine and completed Prototype #1 in a few days.
This is Prototype #1: made from a scarf a friend gifted me while visiting the country Jordan.
From the first iteration, I knew the functions and values I wanted Sesh Sun to encompass. My poncho needed to be: sand resistant, quick drying, eco friendly, multi-purpose, and pack down for travel.
Why the name Sesh Sun? To reflect surf lingo. When you surf, you call it a 'sesh' (session).
Sesh Sun is for your sesh in the sun - whether that’s a surf sesh, swim sesh, standup paddle board sesh, or spearfishing sesh.
My living room turned into a sewing center with hem pins on the floor, scrap fabric and thread spread throughout, and a rulered cutting mat for measuring straight lines. If I wasn't sewing, I was at JoAnn's Fabric. Thanks to their helpful workers leading me down the isles to carry out the vision.
After I wore Prototype #1 pre & post surf for two months, I realized faults and improvements needed for Prototype #2. I fought hard for marine grade snaps because the metal won’t corrode from salt water exposure.
Come to find out, marine grade snaps were too hard to install, ripped fabric, and sand hid in crevices - stopping snaps from coming together.
This is when I turned to zippers.
I realized the importance of a water repellant pocket while standup paddle boarding in the ocean. If I wanted to SUP from my front yard to a café, the poncho could turn into a stuff sack. At the destination, I would have a towel to dry-off and poncho to cover-up.
The water repellant pocket also protects valuables - phone, keys, wallet - from sun, sand and water.
The inspiration behind Sesh Sun’s color scheme is based on this watercolor painting by my neighbor Letty Nowak. You can see ocean blues and reef greens flow together - just as life should.
In November 2020, with a mask and one-way ticket to Hawaii, I tested four Sesh Sun prototypes on Oahu’s North Shore. Tests included: kayaking to a small island, surfing, shark diving, Freediving, hiking in the rain, swimming, and sunbathing at the beach. The surf trip that started this brand hasn't commenced, yet I believe I earned something better - Sesh Sun.
I earned a degree in broadcast journalism. The fashion industry was a new beast to learn. I needed a tenured professional to guide me into full-scale production. Cue Lindy Bliss. Lindy is a 30 year veteran in the garment industry. She owned a production factory in San Diego and now provides great insight with freelance development & consulting.
While I tested the final prototype in Maui, five people offered to buy it right off me. This is when I affirmed - it's go time!
Five manufacturers, across the World, bid to produce the ponchos on a large scale. I stuck with my mission - respect the Earth & USA workers. I chose a Los Angeles manufacturer. Although this comes with a higher price, you can't put a price on feeding a hard working American family.
The Sesh Sun story continues .... check back as the timeline unfolds.
Right now, the first ever all-in-one changing poncho is in production at a Los Angeles factory.