What better way to learn to pick the right wetsuit for your body than from an industry pro. Meet Grace Hsiang, VP of Sales and Marketing at 7TILL8 Wetsuits in Los Angeles, CA. From freediving for uni and scuba trips around the world, to her more recent love for the surf, Grace has spent more than her share of hours in a wetsuit. Learn the difference between "nice and snug" and "too much tug" with her Top 5 pointers to get the fit that’s right for you.
Hi Grace, can you tell us about your role at 7TILL8 Wetsuits?
7TILL8 Wetsuits is a little different than other wetsuit brands in that we offer both a very niche consumer product (a custom-tailored wetsuit) as well as full-service B2B manufacturing. My job is to think through the best way to strategically position our brand and tell our story to two very different audiences.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Working with interesting, awesome, and like-minded people. I get to meet and collaborate with so many different people that are diverse but share a common passion for the ocean. It keeps me humble, challenged, and very much fulfilled.
What’s your relationship to the ocean and surfing? When did it all begin?
I am very much a new surfer! I was really intimidated by surfing, and so my relationship with the ocean started through freediving and then scuba diving. My partner is a lifelong surfer and so after getting sick of waiting for him on the beach, I decided that it was time to get brave and go out to learn. I also received a lot of encouragement from other women who started surfing in adulthood. After catching my first wave, I finally understood why people are so stoked on this. It’s an incredible feeling.
What are your thoughts on women and surfing? What’s great? What isn’t?
I think it’s an amazing time to be a woman in surf. While the men’s surf industry can be competitive and a bit ego driven, there’s so much support and encouragement in the female community. It’s especially exciting to see what’s happening with female wetsuit makers. Each woman I’ve worked with brings their own perspective and aesthetic to the table. It’s great to see how creative and diverse the product offering is getting. Soon, every kind of female surfer will find a wetsuit that suits their vibe.
Finding the right wetsuit can be difficult. When you’re starting out you might just be looking for something cheap and functional. But is this the right way to think about it? Can you give us some pointers on how to find the right wetsuit?
Photo @7till8wetsuits Instagram
Pointer 1: Fit
A good wetsuit should not hinder your movement or restrict breathing. It should feel snug, but not so tight that it cuts off your circulation. When your wetsuit is on, move your arms in a slow paddling position. It should have the tiniest bit of restriction, but you should have full range of motion.
Pointer 2: Thickness
You’ll often see wetsuits labeled with “3/2mm” or “2mm.” This refers to the thickness of neoprene. The first number refers to the material that covers the body’s core, whereas the second number refers to the body’s extremities (arms and legs). A 3/2 is slightly thicker in the core, whereas 2mm is the same throughout the whole wetsuit. Knowing this along with water temperatures will help guide to the proper wetsuit.
Photo @7till8wetsuits Instagram
Pointer 3: Material
Most mass-market wetsuits are made out of petroleum, but we’re really into limestone-based neoprene. It’s lighter, softer, and more durable, which allows you to get more wear out of your wetsuit. If you’re going to buy a wetsuit, you should invest in something that’s going to keep you feeling comfortable in the water.
Pointer 4: Design
Wearing a wetsuit is generally not the most flattering or comfortable experience, which can affect your confidence when you’re starting out surfing. I’ve had some hideous wetsuits that made me feel even more self-conscious in the water. It sounds silly, but this is a skin-tight product, and looking good in my wetsuit has actually helped motivate me to become a better surfer.
Pointer 5: Seam Quality
Learn more about Grace and 7TILL8 Wetsuits at www.7till8.com