Rarely does a company have such great products for snorkelers, and are so snorkeler friendly, that we consider them an essential part of our snorkeling community. And sometimes those companies also value our input and want to work with us to improve their service and products to snorkelers. And so we partner together.
Tuga Sunwear is one of those great partners. We first met the nice folks from Tuga a few years ago at a diving/snorkeling trade show, and we saw what was then a new line of unique snorkeling specific rash guards or sun protective swimwear. But we were not quite ready yet. Then in 2018 at another trade show we connected up again and we thought the product line was really developed and unique and we had a meeting to see if the owner was someone we might get along with.
And we really got along well. John, the owner of Tuga is a really nice guy, who has his heart in the right place. We have since talked often with him, and learned a lot about his company's history and his, and now consider him a friend. We also flew down to California to visit his business to make sure that we wanted to partner. We got a good sense for how he treats his employees, received a tour of his factory and warehouse, and came away really happy we had visited. It was very interesting to see how the sun protective clothing is made, right here in the USA.
We also tested a number of pieces of their clothing in the water on a snorkeling trip, and as expected, loved them. The snorkeling shirts and leggings are extremely practical, good looking, and for the quality, a good value.
Walking into Tuga's business we immediately got a sense that this was a place we liked. We were met at the door by his friendly Labrador (he pretty much had us at the dog), there are a couple of cats who also live at the office, and there was fun graphics and colors on the walls, and different offices had lots of personal touches. It felt homey and an easy place to work at.
John's business started in their home years ago. When traveling in Australia they noticed a unique kids' swimwear garment that was not available in the states. And when they came home lots of people wanted it for their kids. And that's how it started. A small family business, making swimwear in their home. It grew over many years, and has remained family owned. John's kids have often been the models for his clothing, from children into adulthood.
They now have grown into five different brands.
John is very aware of the issues with sunscreen damaging reefs, and feels strongly that wearing clothing is a better option. But he is also aware of the growing issues of micro-plastics in our waters. In fact the washing instructions for their clothing lines recommends the best methods to reduce this problem. And his snorkeling line is made from either nylon from recycled fish nets or polyester from recycled bottles, so very eco-friendly.
He is also on the board with Ecology Project International, a non-profit educational organization focused on science education and conservation worldwide through field-based student-scientist partnerships. Through projects like their local education programs with youth in Costa Rica, the hunting of sea-turtle eggs has dropped from a human predation rate of 98% rate to less than 1%. We like that!
In today's corporate world, we really want to partner with companies who treat their employees well. So that was something we looked into on our visit. And we came away pleased. Tuga pays a good wage, with good benefits, and they really go out of their way to help and protect their employees, many of which have been with the company for lots of years. It is nice to see a USA manufacturing company succeeding with a conscience.
As our part of the partnership we have been testing Tuga's products and giving feedback for improvements. We are also helping to get the word out to our snorkeling community about Tuga, and receive a commission on sales purchased through links on our website and other publications. We feel Tuga is a great company to support and we plan on helping them grow.