CEO Sit Down: Kathleen Sheppard on Tiller Swim

A company transforming the swimsuit industry one suit at a time.

Photos taken from Tiller’s Instagram

Finding a good bathing suit can be tough. Finding a sustainably made one can be even tougher. That is where Tiller Swim comes in. All of the swimsuits made by Tiller are made out of sustainable, fully regenerated nylon and are reversible. Yes- you are hearing me correctly- Tiller is giving you a sustainable, two for one deal on swimsuits in this summer’s most flattering styles. I sat down with CEO of Tiller Swim, Kathleen Sheppard to give you some exclusive insights as to how her company came to be and what the future has in store for all you Tiller fans.

Kathleen, tell us about yourself!

I graduated from Babson College where I concentrated in entrepreneurship and marketing. After graduating, I started working in advertising for a Boston-based media company, while simultaneously beginning the early stages of Tiller. After dabbling with brand ideas for a couple of years in school, I began more seriously planning for launch once I began working full-time and ultimately launched Tiller in April 2019 with a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve since moved to Los Angeles, California, where I still work full-time in media while running Tiller.

What was the inspiration behind Tiller Swim?

I grew up by the water, spending the majority of my time sailing and swimming competitively, and ultimately teaching and coaching both, so I’ve always had an affinity for spending time in and around the ocean. Since my time in water was spent doing activities in a swimsuit, I wanted to create swimwear that was high quality, versatile, comfortable, and actually good looking (easier said than done!). Once I started designing the suits and looking into production, I couldn’t help but be disgusted with the woes of the fashion industry. Not only are people working in fashion being exploited for their labor in horribly unsafe working conditions and barely making enough money to survive, but the fashion industry is one of the top contributors to waste and pollution. It wasn’t even a choice for me to center Tiller around sustainability- it was definitely an obligation. Tiller now prioritizes the treatment of people and the planet in everything that we do and plan to continue innovating our processes and partnerships now and in the future.

What has been the biggest challenge in starting your company?

The biggest challenge is that there’s absolutely no playbook for starting and running a company (especially right out of school!)- every brand or organization is 100% unique and no two experiences are alike. Because of this, any advice and “how to’s” need to be taken with a grain of salt, something that may work for someone else may not work for Tiller (and vice versa)! With that said, running a one-man show with no previous experience is so rewarding and every experience is a learning opportunity.

There are tons of other women’s swimsuit companies that pop up on the marketplace every day. What makes Tiller Swim stand out?

Tiller currently uses recycled materials in our swimsuits, which is something that is still overlooked by many other swimwear brands to this day. Some people have a tainted image of recycled clothing, but our fabrics will definitely change your mind about any preconceptions- they are super high quality and buttery soft but hold their shape to be the most flattering. Additionally, almost all of Tiller’s suits are reversible, which allows for multiple ways of wearing each piece, ultimately extending the life of all of our products.

What was the motivation behind creating suits out of sustainable ECONYL® thread and that are reversible?

Ultimately the best way to be a sustainable consumer is to not be a consumer at all, but we’re helping to be the next best thing. ECONYL® thread is fully regenerated nylon that has been broken down to its original state. It is created from things like abandoned fishing nets, post-consumer goods, industrial carpeting and plastic bottles, so it’s allowing for fewer resources to be used in the creation of our fabrics while simultaneously cleaning up landfills and oceans. As for the reversible designs, this is our way of extending the life and usability of each piece. Looking for a staple suit? We’ve got you covered- the first side is a solid timeless color. Trying to stand out and be completely unique? Also got you here- the second side is a unique and fun print! Best of both worlds.

Is it hard to find manufacturers and partners that align with your mission of sustainability and giving back?

It is extremely hard to find people to work with that align with sustainability and being conscious members of the industry. With that said, awareness of sustainable productions and operations is on the rise and it seems that production facilities and partners are waking up to this huge realization that change starts with us and it starts like…right now.

What is your advice for consumers who are looking to make more informed and sustainable decisions in purchasing?

Do the research and start with the small steps! In the beginning, it feels impossible to start living more consciously, but once you know what to look for it gets easier. Transparency is a huge tell of sustainability so reach out to brands and ask questions (FAQs, email, Instagram DM, any form of communication works!). If a brand is willing to share how and where a piece was made and what it is made from, that’s a great start. Some have a “Sustainability” or “Transparency” section of their site which can really help as well. Breaking it down even further, you should learn what fabrics are good and bad. Main rules: natural fibers are the best for clothing and recycled or repurposed for swimwear and activewear. If you can’t abide by those two rules, then really think about how the piece you’re buying will serve you. Ask yourself:

  1. Is this good quality/will it last me a long time?
  2. Will it serve a purpose that something I already own would not?
  3. Would I be able to resell it once it no longer serves me?
  4. Was it made in a responsible manner (i.e. sustainable, good treatment of workers, etc)

If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you’re just buying something to buy something. This is usually a good indication that you should keep moving honey!

What does the future of Tiller Swim look like?

The main initiative we’re focusing on is shifting to using biodegradable fabrics (and no it will not biodegrade on your body). This is something that we’re passionate about to reduce our footprint and negative impact even more, so look out for that in 2021! Additionally, we’ll be expanding into some other product lines later in 2020 (i,e. clothing, accessories, upcycled pieces) to give you a reason to shop with us all year round.

And, just for fun, what is your favorite suit that Tiller sells?

Oof, this is a tough one! I’m pretty obsessed with the new Topanga Top & Surfside Bottom in Sky & Swirl reversible, but my tried & true go-to is definitely the Laguna Top & Lido Bottom (really in any color, it’s so flattering and just the perfect swimsuit!).

Laguna Top and Lido Bottom (left), Topanga Top and Surfside Bottom (right)

Summer Fashion Picks with Nicholas Brown

What fashion moments Nicholas and I are loving this summer.

The first time I met my friend Nicholas the first thing that struck me about him was his unique fashion sense. Nicholas has an effortless way of incorporating his personal style with up and coming trends. He also has a way of flawlessly navigating different styles. When he came over to my house for Christmas dinner he wore an impeccable houndstooth suit jacket with a black turtleneck underneath and gold jewelry. But, I’ve also seen Nicholas in ripped jean cutoffs, high tops, and a simple white t-shirt. He can wear and style virtually anything, somehow making it his own. Nicholas is currently a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and I cannot wait to see how he takes the fashion world by storm. To hold you over until that happens, Nicholas and I have collected some of our favorite summer fashion finds to share with you.

Ursula’s Pick

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The New Cold Shoulder

Get the look: Rosie Assoulin Thousand-In-One-Ways Wool-Cotton Sweater

This summer is all about mixing, matching, and combining loungewear comfort with outerwear flare. This sweater is just the right balance of the two that you can wear all year long.

Nicholas’s Pick

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A Classic High Top with a Twist for Adventure

Get the look: Run Star Hike

In 2020, Chuck Taylor by Converse continues to rock the streets with its classic high top silhouette. I say that this is a must-have, but nowadays who would want a plain black pair? The options are endless.

Ursula’s Pick

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A Statement Textured and Colored Arm Candy

Get the look: Jacquemus Le Riviera

This summer, I am loving a textured, colorful bag moment. This new arrival from Jacquemus is a must-have… but so is everything else in their L’ANNEE 97 collection.

Nicholas’s Pick

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A Top That I Couldn’t Leave Earth Without

Get the look: Second Skin Turtleneck Moon Top White

Slowly making its mark in the wave of pop culture is this moon top. Seen on your favorite celebs, this top can be sure to set you apart; putting you in an “it girl” circle.

Ursula’s Pick

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Matching Sets

Get the look: Khaite Indira Pleated Cotton Bra Top

I have found matching sets to be such a fun way to easily look put together. Now, with jacket and pants, tank top and culottes, and crop top and skirt matching options, there is a set for everyone out there.

Nicholas’s Pick

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Everyday Dainty Bling

Get the look: Shami Beloved Angel Necklace

In a time where fast fashion rules the market, it is easy to forget the other aspects of our outfits that keep us fresh besides a new top or jeans. Timeless accessories can easily turn a boring look into something more polished.

Ursula’s Pick

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Everyone’s Favorite Sunglasses, but Grown Up

Get the look: Tazi C1

Everyone loves a great acetate eye look, but some styles teeter on the edge of playing “dress up” and saying “I’m adulting”. These frames make it perfectly clear, we mean business.

Nicholas’s Pick

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Safe, Sassy, & Social Distanced

Get the look: Seamless Face Mask

Regardless of one’s stance on masks, I’d have to admit that finding one in a perfect nude is an easy way to correlate all your looks. No need to worry about that boring blue disposable mask when you can use this one for over 10 washes.

Ursula’s Pick

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Knit Me Everything

Get the look: THE UPSIDE Ezi ribbed cotton-jersey shorts

We want comfortable, we want soft, we want cute, and we want it now. With these knit shorts you can definitely accomplish all of those things for under $100.

Nicholas’s Pick

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Asymmetric Summer Knits

Get the look: Matériel Tbilisi Brown One Shoulder Tank Top

These fun tops have proved to be not only comfortable but pretty chic as well. Coming in my different styles and colors, these summer knits can easily vamp up your look, replacing those overworn graphic tees.

Ursula’s Pick

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Not too Big, Not too Small, Just Right

Get the look: Mejuri Bold Hoops

Gold hoops are everywhere this season but finding a pair that isn’t too big, too gaudy, or too delicate can be tough. This pair should do the trick!

Nicholas’s Pick

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Shady Sleek Side-Eye

Get the look: ASOS DESIGN 90s Rimless Square Glasses in Lilac Lens

This summer’s eyewear took a shady turn as the glossy rimless gradient sunny is a must-have in my wardrobe. The sleek silver hardware paired with the reflective finish and square shape can make anyone feel like they’re in Miami!

3 Friends Picking their Top 3 Beauty Items

The 3 beauty products 3 of my friends swear by.

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Whenever I look into my makeup bag I am amazed by how many products I have accumulated over the years, having only started wearing makeup just three years ago. When I think about each product I own, it is hard not to think of the friend that recommended it, which is why I never enter a Sephora sans friend in-tow. Some of my best memories in college are from getting ready before a birthday party or night out, when my friends and I shared makeup tips and glittery palettes. Undoubtedly, my favorite beauty finds have been because I had admired a lip gloss on a friend or an eye shadow on another. My friends have been a much-needed window for me into the beauty industry and have taught me almost everything I know about different products and brands, which is why I have recruited some of mine to share their favorites. (Stay tuned next week for three more friends and three more finds!)


Jahnvi Garg


#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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A few different lip glosses

How often you use

Almost every day (although would not recommend wearing it these days since it sticks to your mask)

What you like about the product

I think lip gloss can elevate your whole look- it’s so effortless and it makes your skin look more hydrated! I have different ones for different purposes: the Glossier Lipgloss in Red is perfect for daily wear, it has just the right amount of color and doesn’t feel sticky. The Kiko Milano 3D Hydra Lipgloss in Clear is really good to wear for a night out because it lasts a long time and also kind of makes your lips look more 3D? This shade is also really fun and is super easy to wear. Lastly Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Lip Jelly in Chill, which is the most soothing and non-sticky lip gloss ever. It’s actually a combination of a lip gloss and a moisturizing lip treatment so it feels amazing on your lips.

How you found it

Mostly through trial and error, these three are the ones I have purchased again and again!

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Milk Makeup Eye Pigment

How often you use

Mostly for special occasions, parties, and night outs

What you like about the product

It literally does not move, fade, or smudge off of your eyelids once you have it on and comes off easily with any makeup remover. The shades are also super pigmented and bright which is rare for an eyeshadow. My favorite shade is “rave” because it looks so good on brown eyes! I also love that it’s a cream formula so there’s no fallout to clean up 🙂

How you found it

I randomly bought my sister one of them in the shade “after-party” and she really liked it. She bought “rave” and “sesh” and I loved how they looked.

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Primer

How often you use it

Really depends on whether or not I’m going to be wearing mascara that day or not. Usually, I use this for a night out, parties, or whenever I want to be a little extra!

What you like about the product

I use it before I apply my mascara- it basically coats your eyelashes so that when you use mascara your eyelashes look 10x thicker! It makes a huge difference and it almost looks like you’re wearing false eyelashes. I also love this product because sometimes I use it as a brow gel. It has a much stronger hold than a lot of other brow gels and is perfect for styling your brows.

How you found it

I was actually trying to buy the L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara because I heard that it was a really good dupe for the Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara. I got distracted by something or the other and accidentally put the primer in my cart.

Nadia Kim

#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Caudalie Vinopure Serum

How often you use it

Almost every day during the summer

What you like about that product

It might sound a bit aggressive but I absolutely HATE SKINCARE that leaves a sticky feeling. I was desperate for a serum that was light and absorbed fast and this serum not only was that but also kept my face clean throughout the summer. Summer is definitely a tricky season when it comes to both makeup and skincare. The heat, humidity, and pollution (if you live in a city) are the perfect combo to enlarge your pores. This product was ideal for before and after a long day of makeup. Light, smells good, and no sticky feeling! Plus this product has salicylic acid and it helped me get rid of my whiteheads. A side note: Sephora sells it but its almost double the price they sell it in Europe. So if you are planning to visit France or other European countries, picking a few up at the duty-free would be ideal!

How you found it

When I was in Paris my skin was not doing well. My makeup looked uneven and had whiteheads. When this happens, instead of reaching for a primer or a physical exfoliator, I reach for a chemical exfoliator. I looked up some pharmacy-beauty brands, this one popped up!

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Sabon citron blossom body scrub

How often you use it

Once a week

What you like about the product

I’ve been a fan of Sabon body scrub for about eight years now! I’ve struggled with chicken skin on my legs after shaving but this product was effective yet so gentle. It has dead sea salt with these oils that smell heavenly and is so moisturizing. Rose tea scent was my original favorite but the citrus blossom is my new fav! On a lazy weekend where I want to have a relaxing morning, I’d use this in my shower and I feel like I’m laying in the middle of the orange tree field. (Yes I am exaggerating but that’s how much I like it)

How you found it

I walked by a Sabon shop in Soho eight years ago and it smelled so good I found myself at the counter handing over my credit card.

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Anastasia Clear Brow Mascara

How often you use it


What you like about the product

The hold on the product is amazing! So I have my brows micro bladed but I always fill in roughly. But my natural brows are shaped a bit oddly at the ends and are trimmed short. But this product was a game-changer. Few swipes and it help my brows have texture and fuller shape. Korea is super rainy nowadays and since we always wear masks, I just throw on this product, a mascara, tinted lip balm and I’m out the door!

How you found it

Recommendation from a Sephora employee (boy do I miss U.S. Sephora)

Yara El Madalla


#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

How often you use it

I use it every day, twice daily (morning and evening) along with my 5-step skincare routine

What you like about the product

Everything, from the texture to the results I’ve seen over the past two years. It’s perfect to moisturize the delicate skin around the eyes and almost immediately hides the fine lines. Over time I’ve noticed my dark circles have become much lighter and less noticeable.

How you found it

I found out about it at Kiehl’s in London about two years ago when I had gone into a store to ask for a whole skincare routine for my skin. The results have been amazing and I’ve been loyal to them ever since!

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

How often you use it

During the winter months, whenever I can! During the warmer months, I apply it before going out.

What you like about it

It’s perfect for the winter and the summer, it moisturizes really well and penetrates quickly too so that it doesn’t leave the hands feeling greasy after application.

How you found it

One of my colleagues at my first internship used to have it and last year, when I needed to buy a new hand-cream, I decided to try this one!

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Tarte Creaseless Under Eye Concealer

How often you use it

I use it whenever I have to go out and put makeup on.

What you like about the product

I think it has great coverage and really brightens my under eyes, furthermore, unlike other concealers I’ve tried, it doesn’t clump and build up in my fine lines – which makes me look older and more tired.

How you found it

I found out about it a year ago in a Sephora store in Paris, one of the beauty consultants recommended it as a change to my previous Laura Mercier one.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where my friends Tanisha Uttamchandani, Sarah Charles, and Hashmita Amineni share their three beauty favorites!

Company to Watch: Ubuntu Life

A global lifestyle brand based in Kenya aiming to empower lives through their handcrafted products.

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Photos taken from the Ubuntu Life Instagram account

Ubuntu Life is a company that recently caught my attention because of some of the amazing things it is doing for the local community. Ubuntu Life was started a few years ago by two pastors and friends, Jeremiah Kuria and Zane Wilemon. Out of a conversation about faith, growth, and empowerment they began to develop the idea of creating a center for children with disabilities. The Ubuntu Life Foundation was soon founded, which operates a special needs center and medical program in the area of Maai Mahiu, Kenya. The Ubuntu Life Foundation transforms the lives of children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and severe autism by providing individual education and therapy. Additionally, the foundation’s healthcare professionals help to provide ongoing medication and medical care to close to 300 pediatric neurological patients.

After building the foundation, Jeremiah and Zane were asked by the mothers of these disabled children to fill their extra time, now that their children were receiving help with their care. The two friends utilized the spirit of entrepreneurship to solve another problem and developed plan for these women. In 2011, they started a sewing studio to employ the mothers of these disabled children or “Maker Mums,” as they refer to them.

Ubuntu Life was soon created, employing +280 full-time and part-time Maker Mums from the Ngong Hills in Kenya. These Maker Mums receive above-market wages and are also provided with health insurance, which has helped to break the cycle of poverty present in the area.

“Life throws to us good things and also challenging things. We need to celebrate together and win the battles together. That is Ubuntu. We need to live consciously that a life of purpose considers others.”
-Jeremiah Kuria, Co-founder


Today, Ubuntu Life operates its foundation as well as three social enterprises, Café Ubuntu, a bottled water mission, and its product division, selling espadrilles, bracelets, masks, and along with other handcrafted items. Ubuntu Life is a great example of a company creating value on all fronts. Currently, in light of the COVID-19 epidemic, the company has stepped up to the plate yet again, donating a mask in Kenya for every mask purchased on their site.

I recently purchased this vegan, hand beaded bracelet and wear it everyday, a reminder to spread love as Ubuntu Life does everyday in Kenya and beyond. Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 4.09.54 PM

Buy this bracelet too!


Photos taken from the Ubuntu Life website