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We know that travel is not one size fits all so to help, we have created the Plus Size Travel Too website as a hub of plus size experts, all looking to share their knowledge with fellow-travellers. If you're seeking adventure and don't know where to begin then don't worry, you're definitely in the right place.

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Interview: The Importance Of Plus Size Wetsuits With Mia From Truli Wetsuits

Finding a wetsuit to fit can be incredibly hard when plus size, especially when there are only a handful of places that offer larger sizes. 

While doing a little bit of research following a recent surfing trip, we discovered Truli Wetsuits - a wetsuit brand that is striving for inclusivity for plus size people who love water sports. Knowing that they were working hard to make wetsuits that not only fit but are stylish too, we couldn't resist getting in touch with Mia for an interview. 

Tell Us A Little Bit About Truli Wetsuits And How You Got Started. 

I was working as a scuba diving instructor in The Caribbean and basically living in a wetsuit.  My colleagues were women; our customers were women; but, all of our gear was designed for men.  I couldn't understand how the major companies could totally be missing the mark in meeting our needs.  Without a clue on how I would do it, I decided I would figure out how to create my dream wetsuit and if it turned out okay, I'd figure out a way to sell it.

What Made You Increase Your Size Range? 

So, I don't have a background in design; I started with just my ideas and sketches.  I relied a lot on the experts I hired to offer insights into things like pattern-making and the grading system, which are all related to sizing.  After all kinds of testing and refining of the prototype, they sent me xs - xl.  I didn't really know who would be interested in buying my design except for the people who had been testing it and they looked a lot like me.

As it turns out, a lot of people were interested in wetsuits designed for women and they didn't just look like me.  Actually, they looked like every shape and size you could think of!  There was a reason I didn't see a diverse range of bodies in the water sports industry.  If your body wasn't able to fit into a man's wetsuit or wasn't small enough to fit into the few women's designs available, you didn't have any options to participate. 

I knew that from a business perspective, I had to make more sizes available in order to meet the needs of my customers.  And on a personal level, I knew that I was in a position that could create change and possibility in a sport I loved.  Not doing something about this disparity was not an option for me.

Throughout 2018, I set out to create a more size-inclusive system and finally introduced 21 sizes with the 2 new wetsuit designs in 2019.

What Plus Sizes Do You Offer? 

Women from size 0 to 24 have been wearing Truli Wetsuits.  I made the conscious decision not to distinguish between plus and standard sizes.  I wanted to create a flexible and inclusive sizing system that demonstrated that one size did not fit all and that everyone's shape would fit each size differently.  Currently, there are 14 sizes that, generally speaking, work for women anywhere between size 0 and 24.  7 of these have long torso options.  With the new inventory purchase, I am bringing in an additional 2 sizes that will provide more options for women on the higher end of the range. 

Can You Tell Us More About The Different Fits/Designs? Which One Is Best For Beginner Who Has Never Owned A Wetsuit Before, Or Is It Dependent On The Activity You're Doing? 

I love this question, but it's super packed with different ways to respond!  The 4 designs are really awesome because they offer a lot of options to fit a variety of water conditions and activities.  The wetsuits can also be paired together in layers for added warmth in colder locations.

Swimmers, paddlers, surfers and kitesurfers tend to love the sleeveless 3.5mm Truli-Mi and Truli-Capri styles for a full range of motion in the arms.  These are also the easiest to put on and take off and can be worn over top swim tops and leggings for more skin coverage.  Or even underneath another wetsuit as a cosy base layer.  I often refer to these as an "enhanced bathing suit" - They are so versatile!

Warm water scuba divers and cold water ocean and lake swimmers will often choose the 3.5mm Truli-Hapi long-sleeve shorty.  I often recommend this wetsuit if you are a new diver and you're not too sure which should be your first wetsuit.  It's fantastic to wear on its own and can be worn as a base layer under other wetsuits if you get cold and is not bulky to pack on a vacation.  So many options!

The Truli-Ful the Beautiful 5.5mm polka dot design is the only full-coverage wetsuit at the moment (I will definitely be bringing in more as the business grows).  It's the warmest and offers the most protection.  Many cold water swimmers are enjoying this wetsuit and say the arms are stretchy enough to not feel inhibited in their swims.  Personally, I wear this one layered over top of the Truli-Hapi for diving in the cold Great Lakes of Ontario during the summer in Canada. 

All of the Truli Wetsuits are lined with fleece which adds extra warmth, is soft on your skin, and in fact, dries faster than the neoprene when you're done being awesome in it - Just hang it up inside out when you're done.

The front zip is a great feature that women kept requesting.  The long-sleeve front zip styles require a bit of technique to remove on your own, so I installed the Truli Ribbon to help (otherwise, you can use your buddy!). 

What Goes Into Making Sure Truli Wetsuits Are True To Size And Accessible To Plus Size Girls Who Love Water Activities? 

I spent 2018 figuring out how to create more size options for women.  Early on, I had an aha moment when a customer was trying on my original Truli-Mi design.  We discovered that she was able to "fit" 3 different sizes, the original M, L, and XL, but decided on the XL because it gave her thick thighs more space. 

I discussed with the manufacturer to extend the size grading in enough sizes so that it would fit the needs of women to around size 24.  It turns out they weren't really experienced with this, but we persevered together.  We were able to produce a bunch of prototypes that women tried and gave feedback on.  I measured and recorded everyone's fittings and collected data from the dive community as much as I could and fine-tuned the sizing system for the 2 new wetsuits that were released in May 2019.

Access to the wetsuits is very important to me too.  I recognized how difficult it is to purchase a wetsuit online and also how many women had terrible experiences going into shops searching for a wetsuit.  In late 2019, I launched the Designated Fitting Site program in partnership with local retailers who were committed to serving their women customers in a professional manner.  It wasn't enough to just sell women's wetsuits online, in order for the water sports industry to become more inclusive, all people need to see women's gear and in plus sizes on display in the community. 

Pre-COVID I had just started a POP-up Fitting tour in Canada and the US, but of course had to cancel and have not expanded further just yet.  It's still very much in the plans though for the business (as well as making it easier for women in the UK and elsewhere to have access to in-person fittings as well). 

We are very proud to continue to support Outer Reef Scuba in Indianapolis, IN who is our first DFS in the USA and Divers Den in Tobermory, ON Canada where I live.

Do You Offer Custom Sizes Or Size Consultations?

So, the wetsuits themselves are not custom, but the fittings completely are!  I look at each customer individually, considering not only their shape but what activities they will be doing.  For customers in North America, I have options to send more than one wetsuit to try on at a time as even beyond fit, everyone's comfort preferences will be so individual.  I do whatever I can to ensure customers receive a wetsuit that feels best for them. 

For customers outside of Canada and the USA, at this time I am not able to offer this additional service due to the high shipping costs, but I did create the Sisterhood of the Travelling Wetsuit.  That way IF someone ends up with a Truli that just doesn't work for them, they have the option to pass it onto another sister.

Do You Have Any Tips And Tricks For Those Looking For A Plus Size Wetsuit? 

Ideally, you'll be able to try some wetsuits on to get a feel for them.  Be aware that every company uses different sizing systems, so have your key measurements handy.  Tor Truli that's height, weight, bra-size, general dress size, bust, waist, hip measurements and even your inseam. 

I created a few tips for in-home fittings specific to Truli as well:

Wetsuit Fitting Advice - Tips and Tricks

Videos to demonstrate how to remove a front-zip wetsuit with long-sleeves:

Full Instruction Video

Shorter Demonstration Video

We Know You're Currently Running A Campaign For Your Next Run Of Stock, Can You Tell Us More About It And How People Can Support You? 

Yes!  Financing inventory is the biggest upfront cost for me as a small business.  I decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign where customers are able to pre-order their wetsuit at huge discounts.  If the target is met, the inventory is purchased from the manufacturer and production begins.  The campaign is a means to get the community involved to really create change in the water sports industry by making wetsuit sizes available.  Contributions and pre-orders can be made until November 30th, so jump on this chance to get a great deal.  I've done whatever I could to make backing the campaign as low-risk as possible.  You can learn about all of the details of the campaign here (look at the FAQs for shipping/exchange/refunds):

https://ifundwomen.com/projects/truli-wetsuits-women

Where Can We Find You On Social Media? 

@TruliWetsuits

Facebook

·         Truli Facebook page

·         I heart my Truli Facebook group for women

·         Sisterhood of the Travelling Wetsuit - buy/sell/trade Pre-Loved Trulis

Instagram

YouTube

LinkedIn

Reviews:  ScubaLab Testers Choice Award by Scuba Diving Magazine

Plus Size Review by Hannah Logan:  Truli Wetsuits: Plus Size Wetsuit Options Made for Women With Curves