To celebrate International Women's Day, we sat down with Erika Togashi, founder and creative director of SEPTEMBER. We discussed her story - the inspiration for building her brand, the women who have inspired her, and her biggest win as a female business owner.
TL: How and when did you start surfing?
ERIKA: I started surfing right after college when I moved to Santa Barbara, CA and worked for Patagonia. The Patagonia culture encouraged everyone to go for a quick paddle at lunch, however, I was a complete novice and had no idea what I was doing so I usually ended up floundering around at C Street or Miramar. A few years later, I spent a good amount of time in Sayulita, Mexico and was able to start progressing in my surf abilities. However, by then I was living in San Francisco and quickly realized that I am a fair weather surfer who does not like wetsuits. Whenever I made progress in my surf abilities in Mexico, I lost it because I never surfed in SF. Before I moved to Bali, I probably had not touched a surfboard in five years.
I have always wanted to be able to surf, so when I left J. Crew and New York City, my goal was to become a better surfer. So, I picked up and went on a six-week surf trip to Sri Lanka and Bali with the sole purpose of improving my surf skills. Long story short, I would say my surfing really began when I moved to Bali seven years ago.
TL: Can you tell me about any women who have impacted or influenced your career?
ERIKA: This is a tough question because so many women have influenced me throughout my life and career. My mother has been a huge influence in my life. She has always followed her heart and gut even if that meant going against the societal norms of her generation. That perseverance has definitely been passed on to me.
Two women who have really impacted my career are Maria Huang and Violetta Villacorta (Vio). They were two senior designers at Patagonia who took me under their wing, supporting and mentoring me during the formative years of my career. When most people in the industry were telling me that I needed to have a design degree if I wanted to pursue being a designer, Maria and Vio believed in me and gave me the confidence to pursue my goal as a designer despite not having formal a formal design degree.
Costa Rica 2020
TL: How has it been starting a company as a woman? Have there been any unexpected surprises?
ERIKA: To be completely honest, I never gave my gender much thought when I started SEPTEMBER. Knock on wood, I have not faced any major road blocks or hurdles that I felt were a result of being a woman. That said, there have been times when I felt like I needed to speak a little louder or be a little more firm in order to get my point across in a room filled with men...
I feel very fortunate to have the relationships I have developed with numerous women since SEPTEMBER launched. I am a designer by trade and do not have a business or marketing degree, so there have been times when I felt overwhelmed and almost frozen when faced with big business decisions. During these times, I have been lucky to have many female mentors to support and guide me. I am thankful for those who have been incredibly generous with their time and experiences and look forward to doing the same with the next generation of female business owners.
TL: Advice for the younger generation of women who want to want to start a company?
ERIKA:My two pieces of advise are:
1) Have a clear vision and stick to it.
2) Don't be afraid to ask questions. People are always eager to share their experiences and there is no shame or embarrassment in asking for help.
TL: Biggest win as a woman?
ERIKA: My proudest moment since SEPTEMBER launched was when SEPTEMBER won Title Nine's Mover's & Makers Pitchfest in 2020. Title Nine has created a half-mentorship, half-competition to support and bring female entrepreneurs together. They want to encourage women to lead, risk and own their position in a male-dominated industry so I am incredibly honored that SEPTEMBER was chosen as one of the winners amongst a very talented group of women entrepreneurs.
Being recognized for creating a company that is focused on ethical labor practices and sustainable materials in a world where it is easy to compromise on those areas validated my vision and goal. Being part of a cohort of women who are helping to shape the future is unbelievable and is an opportunity that will be ongoing.
TF: How do the SEPTEMBER customers inspire you?
ERIKA:The genuineness of each and every customer I have had the opportunity to meet with, talk to, and email with, has been an inspiration. Each customer has been eager to share their individual experience's and reasons for supporting SEPTEMBER and I leave each interaction feeling even more committed to our mission. I am honored to have women from all walks of life and age ranges (16 to 65+) support what I'm building and continue to strive to create a brand and product that appeals to everyone.
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by Erika Togashi September 19, 2023 3 min read
by Erika Togashi September 19, 2023 3 min read
by Erika Togashi September 19, 2023 2 min read
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Lola Fig is my absolute favorite suit at the moment. I’ve taken it everywhere with me in the past year - surfing, free diving, jumping into rock pools. No matter what I’m doing it always stays on. This timelessness of the suit means I can still wear in the years to come and the color fig really suits my skin tone both when I’m super tanned or when I’m pale and out of the sun for a while. Also being 5”2 the higher cut makes my legs seem longer and makes me look taller which is a great plus for me ;)
I love my Sumatra surf suit! It is so flattering, and I never, ever need to adjust it in the water. I feel protected from the sun alll the way up to my neck and I can roll the sleeves up or down depending on how I'm feeling. It's just the right cut in the back. I forget I have it on and feel super confident and balanced on my board - the two layers of fabric don't slide around when I'm turning to catch a wave, as I've experienced with some other surf suits. So grateful to have found this - it is my daily companion in the water, so well made and looks great. Thank you, September!!
I luv e in Costa Rica and this suit is perfect for my sunrise surf sessions…and any of my surf sessions. I love it. It stays in place and it’s super comfortable. It fits really well.
I found that I wanted another sports bra option (in addition to the Isa) for my exercise and love the Training Sports Bra! It works for my runs without the extra cell phone pocket so it doesn't feel as "thick" which is nice and it's perfect for spinning, yoga, and weight lifting! It's easy to get on, supports me for all my exercise...including running and I'm so glad to have another September sports bra.
Like the Isa, it is so comfortable on my body and doesn't irritate my skin (I have eczema). The material is so soft and the sports bra is really well made. Can't wait to get another in a different color.
I have always run in shorts but wanted a pair of shorts that I could exercise in and not have my legs rub and these are it!! I want to order more! They stay comfortably on my waist, have 2 side pockets that I put my phone in and didn't notice as well as a gu. Neither felt like they were adding weight or bouncing around. The material is soft and snug which felt great. They didn't sag and I felt so free running with them on. I also found that I was just putting them on to wear around the house and again, they didn't rise up around the leg nor fall down around the waist. They are really well made with a lot of attention to detail.
If you want something not just for running but also wearing around the house or to yoga that feels like your second skin...these are them!! Love them!
I love to run and am training for a marathon which means I have lots of runs (sprints and long runs) and this sports bra keeps me feeling well supported without any chaffing. It's the softest fabric and never rubs anywhere. I always feel supported and without the extra padding that sometimes makes me warm. Can't ask for anything better!!
I love the color and went back to buy 2 more! I have always worn other brands but with 3 Isa's I'm so excited that I don't have to plan when I'm wearing them. I can't wait to see what's offered next!
I have been waiting for this swimsuit for a long time and it did not disappoint!
Right off the bat, this beauty didn’t budge! I did the backstroke, the crawl, and even the risky butterfly– and let me tell you, not once did I need to perform the dreaded "swimsuit adjustment shimmy" post-dive.
If you want a suit that says, "I'm serious about my swimming, but darling, always in style!" then dive headfirst into the one piece :)
I found SEPTEMBER this summer when shopping in some boutiques in NYC, but they did not have my size. When I looked online I found so many great options in XL and I was excited to purchase it. It is such a great swimsuit, the fabric is high quality and I love that is it sustainably made.
The fit and coverage of this suit makes it perfect for surfing and playing on the beach. I love not having to worry as much about sun protection for my top be because the neck and and arms are covered. The material is soft and so comfortable. When surfing everything stays in place. And it's just a cute suit as well! It's my go to suit.
I went to NYC this summer and stumbled upon September at a small shop in Soho. They only had sizes XS - L, so unfortunately I couldn’t buy the suit in person, but I was very thankful to write down the brand and buy it online in the correct size. I’m usually a L in bottoms and a L or M in tops, but I ordered a XL for both pieces.
I LOVE this suit and I know you will too. The cut is flattering, the waist snatches and it stays put when you surf. You can't go wrong with a high quality, timeless black one piece. And the best part ? I use it as a day to day bodysuit with a high waisted short, if you are petite, this is the swimsuit you need. Waiting patiently for other colors (finger crossed) for my next vacation. : )
I’m so glad I found this shop.. these are the swimsuits of my dreams!!
The material is smooth & comfortable. The cut is a little bit cheekier than I expected, but it still great.
I LOVE the Poppy print because it covers my uneven nips;) it hides what we don’t want noticed and flatters what we do.
I have been obsessed with your line since Duna brought it to Puerto Rico. I feel so blessed to find a line that fits so well and stays PUT!
The Lola one piece is all classic simplicity matched with comfort and performance. This suit makes you look and feel effortless while at the same time holding up and staying in place when you take a tumble. I love it!