Photography courtesy of Alyx Tortorice and Maddy Javier.
It’s no secret that we are all about surf wear that is functional, fashionable, and contributes to a better world and a healthier environment. So you can imagine we were beside ourselves when we came across Starfysh Wetsuits, a new kind of wetsuit. Made in the USA, they’re reversible, they’re feminine, they’re sustainable, and they are as versatile as our adventurous, salty lifestyles. We chatted with founder Alyx Tortorice and co-owner Maddy Javier, some of the friendliest and most enthusiastic ladies we have come across thus far, to learn a bit about Starfysh and the unique friendship that these two have formed.
Through a nice series of events, Alyx and Maddy met in sunny southern California, and the rest, as they say, is history. Originally from San Francisco, Maddy relocated to Santa Barbara to study at the University of California Santa Barbara. “When I moved to Santa Barbara, it was my first time where I really appreciated being by the beach and living by the water, and just the lifestyle and pace of life,” she explains. Her boyfriend introduced her to surfing, and she came to appreciate the the lifestyle even more. “He ended up moving to Laguna, and I was visiting him one weekend, and he was telling me about a friend he made,” who just happened to be Alyx’s boyfriend Shane. Alyx had moved from Southampton, New York to study graphic design in action sports at the Laguna College of Art and Design. “We got along immediately,” Maddy says.
Starfysh actually began as one of Alyx’s school projects. “Starfysh started as a project for my class, and from there I just kept working on it, and I started creating the wetsuit. I kind of describe it as it spiraled out of control. I just kept working on it,” Alyx tells us. “The name originated from the first style that I designed. The first style I designed and the whole project that I started at school was a wetsuit with removable arms and legs…. Sea stars can lose their arms and regrow them.” Maddy soon joined in with the project. As she explains, “I got more and more involved with Alyx, and then in the last year and a half I’ve just been there the whole way. We’ve been working on this line for a while now, and it’s really crazy but it’s really fun! I’m doing it with someone I love, and we have a really great, honest relationship.”
There are so many wetsuits on the market, but Alyx and Maddy have definitely carved out their own niche. “It’s like six different suits in one…. That’s personally something we would want,” says Maddy. “It’s amazing, especially when you can customize it and make it your own. Some people may be very out there and want the pattern the whole way, and some people may just want black with a little pop of color.” As Alyx adds, these are “for the girl who doesn’t want to wear a black wetsuit and the girl who wants to have options. Every girl wants to feel comfortable and beautiful no matter what she’s doing. The woman who’s wearing this is anybody and everybody…. It’s for the aquatic woman.”
These ladies have just launched their Kickstarter campaign to continue toward their goal of switching to a limestone-based neoprene, which is much more sustainable than generic neoprene. “We are on a push to stay in the US,” Maddy explains. They want to “keep it an honest company with sustainable products, trying to change the trend in the industry right now.” Alyx fills us in on her big vision, which is “to have [her] own factory and to cut out any of the middle men.” As she elaborates, “I want to be able to get sheets of neoprene and do everything from the printing to the sewing… and I would love to have at least one small storefront that sells them.” Sounds pretty good to us!
There is a lot of positive and creative innovation happening, but in the end, this is a story of friendship too. Maddy sums it all up pretty well. “The relationship that I have with Alyx is invaluable to me. Besides Starfysh, if it all were to end tomorrow, I would walk away hand in hand with Alyx, [knowing] we gave it our all and it was an amazing experience. I could not have done it with a better person.”
We can’t really ask for much more than that.
Maddie Buresh is a writer and photographer with an unquenchable desire to explore the great outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains. She finds joy in trying new things, living in community, and crafting stories that encourage people to go outside, have adventures, and enjoy this big, beautiful world.