From shore to shorts: Patemar is turning the tide on on ocean plastic pollution

You have probably heard before that “Diamonds are forever”… Well, guess what, plastics too!

Every minute, about a dump-truck load of plastic goes into the oceans, polluting beaches, wounding wildlife, and contaminating our food supply. This amounts to 11 million metric tons of plastics yearly, in addition to the estimated 200 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments, enough to cover every foot of coastline on the planet – let that sink in. Where does it all go? Well, we are constantly exposed to it via our food, drink and the very air that we breathe – and there are still a lot of uncertainties in regards to the implications of that on our collective health and the health of our planet. 

Towards the plastic human – Photo by Yannick Overzee.

These facts constitute the main premise behind the existence of Patémar, meaning Stewards of the Ocean, which has gained its success through a collaboration between two colleagues that soon brought the environmental element into the second most polluting industry in the world – fashion, and introduced luxury swimming trunks made out of upcycled plastic waste from shores. The swimwear is handmade by highly skilled master tailors in Bali who support and grow their local communities through their work. In this article, Founder Rudy Hertanto shares with us the top 10 lessons learned from his experience so far.

Rudy Hertanto and the Patemar tailoring team.

What seems to be an impossible path in the competitive world of fashion, ended up as a highly-sought brand and product that has attracted the attention of industry leaders in Europe and the USA. One of the main steps towards scaling and internationalization was their participation in the pilot cohort of the Berlin Landing Pad Program in 2021. 

The Landing Pad program is an 8-week intensive program designed to equip startup founders with the right tools and skills to establish as a founder in Berlin. This unique launchpad program for startups is a mix of individual coaching, group training, personal mentorships sessions, and networking sessions. 

“The international mentors brought us a range of skills and strategies that broadened our understanding towards Patémar’s future plans and introduced us to specific experts in the most relevant industries. Working alongside this network gave us the safety-net that we needed to start our entrepreneurial journey in Europe on the right foot.”

Ten learnings from the journey to growth and internationalization

The path to reaching the successful and conscious brand that Patémar stand for today wasn’t easy, and here are some things the founder wish he’d have known before and during the first year of Patémar: 

  • One: Having more experts working on the same thing is not always a good thing – we’ve learned that things get done so much faster when there’s one head working on it instead of a whole team of experts working on the same thing.
  • Two: It’s important to have someone who is less-emotionally invested in the business to guide and weigh in on objective business decisions. One year into the operations, we connected with a business strategist who gave a lot of energy and good insights as to where the company can grow and what the company could be. Priel Manes, who we started working with through the Landing Pad program, was the reality check partner we needed to make the strategic decisions, and which path to focus on in order to stay on track in our path to scaling.
  • Three: Seek out family & friends support – a support system that helps both in emotional and practical way. Sometimes the best solution comes from your inner circle, so start with the inner circle before going out of your way to seek help.
  • Four: Networking abroad – as a global brand, we know that a global exposure is very important. Getting connected to the right individuals and channels could be tough on its own. The Berlin Landing Program provided us with a platform that allowed us to be connected to experts in the industry as well as door openers and mentors worldwide.
  • Five: Problems do solve themselves – as entrepreneurs, the highs are very high, and the lows can get intense. It’s good to remember that in most cases, problems tend to fix and solve themselves, and turn out to be a lot more manageable than they initially seem. The lesson here was not to overstress on the small things and lose sight of the overall vision/objective of the current project.
  • Six: Aiming high & going for moonshots – We adapted “You never know if you never try” combined with “you’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” mentality when it comes to approaching potential partners. Also, we had the fundamental belief that our product is good and deserves to be showcased as such. It was our courage that brought us to contact the biggest men’s magazine in the world, GQ magazine, and we’ve managed to get into their summer promotional box – a campaign that brought Patémar a huge amount of visibility that we could not have imagined for our second year of operation.
  • Seven: Working with like-minded partners – as a social enterprise, the heart and soul of this business is the love for the ocean. This became our main compass when it comes to hiring people, partners, and investors.
  • Eight: Quick learning and pivots – in between our campaigns we had to pivot our strategy several times to find the best avenue for the campaign. Being agile and realizing when to steer to another direction was central to our strategy to minimize the cost and time lost.
  • Nine: Scaling through getting the best experts on board and recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses – don’t spend 80% of your time to get 20% of the result.
  • Ten: Perseverance, perseverance, and perseverance – it’s been a two-steps-forward-one-step-backward journey for us here at Patémar, meaning that anything could go wrong at any time and it most definitely will. The most important thing is to realize that this experience is meant to forge us to become a more solid team. It has also taught us a lot about perseverance and pushed us to think on our feet at all times.
The Patemar team.

Looking forward, the team’s ultimate vision is to play a key part in the change that they want to see in the world and in the fashion industry specifically.

“We still have a path ahead of us, and working with major key players in the sustainable lifestyle brand, like our current GQ partner, would be our goal for next year’s target. We are calling on industry players to partner with small slow fashion startups like ourselves, and for consumers to make conscious choices when purchasing your product – or even better – If you’re ever in Bali, join us on our weekly clean up with Plastic Bank on Bali waterways!”

by Leyth Ben Jeddou

Communications Fellow

Leyth is an avid 24 years old startup lover, aspiring social entrepreneur and marketer that never misses any learning opportunity. Originally from Tunisia, Leyth is currently in Berlin, undertaking a communications fellowship at enpact, supported by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen. He loves socializing, discovering new perspectives, exchanging around alternative media, culture, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, philosophy or anything fun!

Sign up for our newsletter!

  • Entrepreneur stories
  • Events & opportunites
  • Ecosystem updates