Gemma Cornish is the kiwi designer behind Gemma Lee, an Eco-conscious Luxe Wetsuit & Swimwear brand based here in New Zealand.
Her stunning wetsuits and swimwear collections are hand-made from environmentally friendly, ethically sourced materials with recycled content, and the vibrant use of colour has become Gemma’s hallmark.
"I design collections using colours and combinations that give us feelings of the invincible summer, so that one look at our suits evokes feelings of joy, happiness, playfulness, and an abundance of energy."
Her show-stopping Jimny received the same colour treatment and looks amazing zipping around the country.
We are very excited to be partnering with Gemma and her stand-out Jimny and caught up with her recently to find out what makes her tick.
What led you to start Gemma Lee?
My love for the water and for design. I grew up being a complete water baby, competing in many water sports and on the side loved creating things. I always looked for swimsuits with the most interesting designs. In my final year of my university studies, it dawned on me ‘why are all my swimsuits so beautiful but wetsuits are so bland and not designed with women in mind?’. Finding this hole in the market for women's wetsuits. motivated me to launch Gemma Lee Suits.
Who inspires you, and Why?
I am inspired by individuals who have a burning passion for what they do; their purpose and drive is contagious, and inspiring . They are bold and not afraid to pave the way and be at the forefront of the wave of change. I am inspired by those who are a voice for the voiceless, especially in areas such as ethical fashion and ocean conservation.
Tell us a bit about your Jimny. What is your favourite feature and why?
My Jimny has become a reflection of me. I live for the adventures along the rugged New Zealand coastlines, and love colour that reminds me of the endless summer. My Jimny is a best friend when it comes to these adventures, as it takes me anywhere I want to go and is always ready for the challenging terrain. With it’s recent colourful wrap, my Jimny radiates summer all year round!
What is your process for creating your designs?
I find a lot of inspiration from the 60’s and 70’s eras, and love trawling through old photos and textiles from those time periods. I also love playing with colour and look at colour psychology to decide on my colour palettes. Once I am feeling inspired I get out my tablet, and put pen to screen.
What do you do when you just want to relax?
When I am relaxing you’ll almost certainly find me under the sun by the ocean! I love lounging around at the beach, ocean sports, snorkeling, and going for long drives off road around the coastline- where the only thing you can hear is the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
What's next on your agenda?
To continue to develop my brand and find ways to do things better and pave a better way for our future. My two greatest passions in my work are 1) People- ensuring my work is created ethically by using ethical factories and ensuring materials are sourced ethically; and
2) The Planet- making sure my materials and processes have the least impact on this planet. I want to use my brand to lead by example, to educate and to inspire.