From baby swimming over elite-swimming to an international water-brand
Our story starts and goes on with our joy for being in water - no matter the activity. And on the bottom line, we want to help you enjoy the same.
You can probably recognize
• The first dip as a baby swimmer with your parents.
• The absolute pride when you, for the first time, swam without any help.
• The valuable great times at the beach together with family or friends.
• The pure pleasure in your body and head finishing a long swim in the pool or open water
• The total redemption when you finally improve your personal best in swimming again after years of hard training
• The summers first jump in the harbor
• The moments in water are many for everyone. It's just about getting the most out of them.
And that's what we help you with by offering a choice of water-sport products that aren't available anywhere else and, in the end, are made to last and empower you at both your extraordinary and daily water moments.
Read below how our moments in (lots of) pools and oceans ended up with Watery - from the first dip to your go-to water-sport brand.
Thank you, Mom
Watery was founded in late 2016 by myself (Daniel), at the age of 17, while finishing my second year of high school. But the story with Watery had its background several years before.
I was born into a crazy swimming family with a mom swimming competitively (between us, she wasn't the best, however) and two brothers trying to follow. So should I too.
With an initial clear intention from my mom, I was in 2005, at the age of six, introduced to swimming at the local swimming club in Horsens, Denmark, for the first time:
"You only need to learn how to swim, and then you can stop right away again."
I quickly learned to swim = A happy mom. And I realized how awesome it was to be active in water = A happy boy (sidenote: I couldn't slip away from the pool in the following twelve years)
Want more morning swims at 5 am, Daniel? Yes, please!
To this date, I still try to figure out why my 15-year-old answer to this question was so enthusiastic and pure when I am (too) skilled to play tag with the snooze button.
However, swimming together with your best friends must do something with you and your mind.
The background was my upcoming promotion to the first team in the swimming club. It was a significant milestone for me after almost a decade of swimming lane after lane in the same few pools (i dare not do the math for how many lanes).
The coming years followed with 7-8 weekly swim-trainings (with 3 of them before school, that hurts), swim-meets in the weekends, training camps in the holidays, and a need to consume pretty much food... you're welcome, mom!
That single golden idea... that showed up not that shining.
An unwritten rule among swimmers in Denmark says: "What happens in the changing room stays in the changing room."
If I had kept that back in 2015, I could have avoided work-days on 16 hours seven days a week the next five years, would still have my confirmation savings of 5.000 dollars, and probably still swimming competitively to this date.
However, my random chat with my teammates in the shower after a regular swim training in December 2015 ended with such a clear bottom line that I needed to move on with it:
None of us had succeeded in finding a swim brand with recycled swim trunks
(yeah, it was the reality in 2015)
So if no one has made it, I could do it - and it's here the naivité of a young first-time entrepreneur came in handy. It showed up pretty fast for 16-year old me why it was impossible to find, however.
Young, wild, and unstoppable
I used exactly six weeks after I got the, in my mind, "golden idea" to find out that my confirmation savings of 5,000 dollars weren't even close enough to starting up production of recycled swim trunks — pretty bad luck to me.
But swimmers don't give up that easy.
Instead, I invested my 5,000 dollars of hard-saved money into existing swimwear and equipment. My little plan was that I someday would be able to produce my teammates and i's missing recycled swim trunks.
And so I did. I dived headfirst into everything regarding e-commerce while still swimming 7-8 times a week. Buying products, taking care of customers, coding websites, making accounting, find insurance, and packing the orders was my job from 7 pm to 11 pm after school and my afternoon swim training in the first year.
Crazy but fun times.
Note to myself: Indoor swimming pools are hot!
The year of 2017, I started with another statement from my caring mom. The business was taking off with products all-around in my parents' basement, I swam almost every day, and I should end my high school:
"Daniel, you can work as much as you want on Watery; you just need to finish the school".
However, it was also this summer I was required to take another hard choice: Swimming competitively or Watery (the right smiley is hard to find)
Throughout the spring, I have started to pack all my products down, borrow a trailer and my dad's car, and then drive to swim-meets around Denmark on the weekends to sell my equipment and swimwear.
I quickly found out it gave many customers, and I loved to talk with them in real life about their challenges with their gear. I also found out pretty fast that indoor swimming pools are boiling when you're not participating in the water.
The problem was just: I could not both sell with Watery and swim at the same meets.
By the summer of 2017, I finally decided to quit my swimming ambitions and focus solely on Watery. Although, to be honest, I was also too little and slender to follow the big guys in the water nevertheless.
I can still remember the strange feeling of sitting towards my swim coach for six years and come to this needed clarification. It was the awkward combination of anxiety, happiness, stress, and excitement.
But I also knew that I, from now on, have more time than ever to make Watery genuinely excellent (and the recycled swimming trunks, don't forget!)
Sleeping in the storage room (with the spotlight as a result)
Still alone in the company and now full-time on Watery (which means 16 hours a day in my world back then), my parents started to get annoyed by more and more people coming to their house to collect their gear. Today I understand, but back then - not at all, it was customers in the business! (and not even talking about that, the whole house was almost filled up with packages).
So I decided to rent a vast flat in the outer part of Horsens, Denmark - both for me and the business. The intelligent part was I wouldn't have to drive to work every day as I took my bed with me and placed it in the storage room among our shipping bags. I could then focus on getting shit done from the mornings to nightfall.
It was also this year that Watery won the danish E-commerce price for "Best e-commerce 2018". A proud and tear-incoming moment for the blood, sweat, and tears settled into Watery to that point (danish saying, it hopefully explains)
And we're not done with the spotlight yet! So while Watery, at this point, sends around 90 packages out to danish customers per day, I started thinking about swimmers and water-lovers in the whole world: Maybe they also wanted my gear?
But I fast admitted that it was a challenging journey to start alone, so I decided to sign up for the danish version of Sharks Tank / Dragons Den to get some cash in and great advisors. Against all odds and pretty frightful, 19-year old me with Watery advanced through to the TV program and got 15 minutes of shine and two great investors on board.
Accidentally, after the show was viewed, the investment ended up canceled from my side due to unfair contracts, and five other investors got on board instead (a story for another time, but please welcome Filip, Jens, Morten, Emil, and Jonas)
The (almost) forgotten recycled swim trunks.
Things moved quickly from then on. Almost every day, new products were added to the assortment of soon 3.000 different, and it now went across swimming, snorkeling, beach trips, and open water swimming. But as a physical result, we needed more space. More than ever.
A bit older, wiser, and still passionate about building the water-sport brand I so rarely wanted (and for a start, the recycled swim trunks), we decided to go big or go home with a massive property on 2.400m2 for our stock and office (that's quite a lot of space when you originate from 300m2). Fortunately, this time with a location only 100m from the swimming pool, I had swum way too many lanes in throughout the previous 12 years.
This movement also marked the start of my initial golden idea with the journey: Constructing and designing the recycled swim trunks that my teammates and I missed in 2015.
With a lot more capital this time, my own profound experiences from both being a swimmer and selling swimwear, my newly added product-designer and together with a family-owned factory in Ukraine (that still makes our swimwear to this date), we started our journey to build our own brand with swimwear and equipment to water-sport.
And - drumroll, please - The Eco budgie briefs were born after nine months of developing, designing, and testing in late 2019. And lucky me, my swim teammates loved them.
The overwhelming success of this product launch in Denmark reflected our ambitions for the future - we craved to empower every water-lover in the world, no matter level or activity, to get the most out of their time in the water. Starting with the briefs, now moving on to the next category.
Disclosure, I don't remember very much about 2020.
The year was all about getting Watery ready for international launch and growth and product optimizing from end to end of all existing products. The result was way too many red-bulls, late-night work-days, and over 80.000 orders sent out to Danish and Swedish customers.
Throughout the year, we added Mikkel in our support, Casper as our photographer, Camilla in our administration, Rasmus as our warehouse manager, and several student workers to help us pack the orders.
Most importantly, all new team members shared my personal desire with water-sport - Casper as swim trainer, Marvin with paddleboarding, Rasmus with open water swimming, and not to forget Camilla, that loves going to the beach with her family.
And the best of everything, I also got time, despite the rush, to start swimming regularly again. This time not for setting personal best in the pool (the slender-body type is still my kind of thing), but just for fun and enjoyable moments.
(a little note to all current competitive swimmers: Going from 2.17 to 3.05 on 200m butterfly long course after 1,5 years off, don't let your pride go down when it happens to you. I have already experienced the heartbreaking reality).
The wave in water sport
The many cans of red-bulls seemed to pay off at the beginning of 2021, where we finally were ready to expand towards the whole world with this new Watery brand store.
Gone were all our other former brands, and the focus was only on our very own Watery brand. A little selfish and not very "jantelovs-agtigt" (another danish saying, I promise to stop now.. ), but we had the confidence from our happy customers in Denmark & Sweden that we could do a lot better.
This also meant that we finally finished updating and optimizing the rest of our complete collection across categories and water sports, totaling 400 different products, together with our 34 handpicked factories.
Products over 100.000 Danish and Swedish customers already loved, but we now had a desire to let our growing international water community also try how the finest water-sports gear feels and empowers in water.
Still constructed by our growing in-house product team, designed in Denmark by our design team, and only available through Watery.
Today, it's still as simple as that. Not much has changed, except that our customers worldwide now have more to choose from and more ways to feel the joy of being in water across activities, levels, and ages.
That being said, something remarkable has changed over the years: It's not about me and my "golden idea" anymore. Watery is today powered by our now 35 hardworking, responsible, and caring people across full-time, part-time, and students. They're the real heroes that make your time in water truly enjoyable.
I tried to get all of them for a picture, but I found out fast it was an impossible task with the rush going on here at our office in Horsens, Denmark. However, you can enjoy some of them in their favorite water-sports gear just down below. They're truly loveable, right?
It was our story to this date. But don't mind, we've just started our journey, and I'm thrilled to see what comes next.
In the meantime, we hope we can go with you on your next adventure in the water.
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