Designer El draws line at fishing waste

Published 5:00am 19 February 2022

Designer El draws line at fishing waste
Words by Nick Crockford

Beachmere's Ellana Pierce, who designs swimwear made from recycled finishing nets, is a finalist in a national competition for aspiring young female entrepreneurs

‘El’, who graduated from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in 2020, is one of five finalists invited to pitch ideas to judges ‘shark tank-style’ at Questacon in Canberra next month.

The animal ecology graduate won the popular vote category of the Kickstarter Challenge beating 81 others who gained more than 8000 votes on social media in four months last year.

Pierce, who is moving to Cairns, worked as a research assistant after graduation, including with USC’s Seaweed Research Group at its Bribie Island facility.

Designer El draws line at fishing waste
Ellana Pierce snorkelling at Mooloolaba while filming for a university assignment

At the same time, the 23-year-old was pursuing her sustainable swimwear line ‘Ell Adrift’, made from the nylon of fishing nets removed from the ocean.

Pierce was “excited to be prepping for the finals” and loved the conservation, business management and tourism sides of her Animal Ecology degree.

“I feel that my experiences and growth through uni allowed me to overcome my fears to launch into my business,” she said. “I loved uni. The degree grew my fascination with the ocean and my drive to make a difference in ocean conservation.”

Pierce, who appeared on Channel 10 after launching her design start-up from her kitchen, plans to show science and technology “can go hand-in-hand with fashion, beauty and fun”.

Designer El draws line at fishing waste
Ellana Pierce doing water quality tests for researchers at Bribie Island

“It’s easier than we think to make a difference in what we believe in,” she said.

“I aim to clean the ocean of industrial waste and discarded fishing nets that are detrimental to marine species, and to encourage conscious consumerism in the fashion industry.”

All five finalists, presented by the Accelerator for Enterprising Women and launched last May by the Prime Minister, will share seed funding, business mentorship support from Visa and a place in Future Women’s ‘Jobs Academy’.

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