Written by Kelsie Pearson
An estimated 250 tons of neoprene are tossed into the landfills every year. 250 tons! As surfers and stewards of the environment, there must be a better way. The idea of repairing a wetsuit, believe it or not, is a relatively new concept. Most often, a tear or material breakdown affects one part of the suit, and, due to the lack of available repair options, it’s rendered useless. The thought of rehabilitating a damaged suit doesn’t even cross most people’s minds.
Enter Lisa Hetman, a surfer, ocean lover, and designer. Some may not know that Neso's flagship store is located in Leucadia CA where we co-share a space with Swell Stuff Wetsuit Repair owner Lisa.
Lisa Hetman is the designer and owner of Swell Stuff, a 25-year business that came by way of surfers’ needs to excel in the water. In addition to repairing and altering wetsuits, she also designs clothing. With a BFA degree in Apparel Design from Rhode Island School of Design, she got her start in the fashion industry. Lisa lived and worked in New York City and later San Francisco, before settling in Leucadia, CA.
While living and surfing at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, she was renowned for making expert repairs to her friends’ wetsuits and a viable business was born. Lisa relocated to San Diego’s north county 22 years ago and opened Swell Stuff in 2008. An accomplished surfer, Lisa’s quiver of short boards gets wet. In addition to designing, surfing and surf travel, Lisa enjoys playing her Ukulele, finding a good thrift store, and a live dance band.
The opportunity to see high-quality wetsuit repair happen has shown Lisa many things, but two of the most key things have been: 1.) quality repairs ARE, in fact, possible, and 2.) the surf community at large really has no viable resource to provide them. It's amazing to see people’s shocked faces, in so many different surf communities, when they get their suits after they’ve been repaired. There are constant exclamations of thanks and joy. Favorite suits that carry memories–and that were headed for the trash–are brought back to life.