Entrepreneur Profile: Jamie Dietrich

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Jamie Dietrich, founder of Blue Adaptation

Entrepreneur Profile: Jamie Dietrich
Blue Adaptation

When you think scuba diving, you don’t tend to think of Bremen, Indiana. But entrepreneur Jamie Dietrich may change that. Her business, Blue Adaptation, makes eco-friendly women’s divewear that incorporates the patterns of sea life into its designs.

A graduate of Indiana University – Bloomington, Jamie studied apparel merchandising. After college, she moved to New York City, doing product development and production for Walmart and Target. She then moved on to Macy’s, where a stint in children’s clothing allowed her to stretch her creativity, with colors and cool patterns. A promotion took her to marketing, working on events and entertainment, which ultimately led to a position at a marketing agency. After a decade in the city, she felt drawn to something different.

“I was working really long hours and after that long of a time being in the city, I needed something different,” Jamie said. “My soul needed something different. I needed nature. I was looking into sabbaticals, not really knowing for sure what I was going to do. I’ve always been innately drawn to the water. I was a swimmer growing up. I took scuba diving classes at IU for credit, but I never really got to try it out, except for one vacation in Hawaii. And because of that, I became completely hooked.”

When looking for a next step, Jamie shifted far from New York City life – she moved to the South Pacific island nation of Fiji to work for a coral conservation program. During her six months there, she obtained her scuba Divemaster certification.

“When I was there, I just fell in love with the underwater world,” she said. “It was completely magical; I liken it to the other half of heaven. The wild patterns adorning the fish, the vibrant coral reefs. It’s like an explosion of color. I have a bit of a background in design and so my imagination took over.”

A moment diving struck Jamie with the inspiration that ultimately led to her business.

“A spotted eagle ray was gliding by me so gracefully, and I thought to myself, ‘wow, he’s not quite polka dotted, his pattern is more intricate, similar to ornate sets of locks and keys,’” she said. “I was fascinated by it and thought why hasn’t anyone ever adopted this pattern onto a fabric before? You’ve got leopard print, zebra print, all that. Why not a marine animal print?”

The Blue Adaptation line highlight’s nature’s beauty and reflects Jamie’s commitment to the environment and conservation. After witnessing the overproduction and waste of the fashion industry, she wanted to be as environmentally conscious as possible, using responsible packaging and fabric made from recycled materials.

“For a swimsuit that takes a yard of fabric, it would be equivalent to about 15 recycled plastic water bottles,” she said. “And some of the solid color fabrics, which I’d eventually like to expand into, are actually made of materials that were littering reefs and have been pulled up from the ocean by divers.”

She also does capsule collections called Prints with Purpose, where 50 percent of the proceeds are donated to a cause. The current collection is Save the Vaquita. The vaquita are a species of small porpoises native to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Critically endangered, estimates show only 10 remain today.

“Many people are unaware they even exist,” she said. “They’ve got a little dark circle around their eye that resembles a panda, and they’re on the brink of extinction because of overfishing and trafficking of another vulnerable species called the totoaba fish. There’s a wonderful conservation organization stationed down there called Sea Shepherd who are dedicated to saving the vaquita. Half of the proceeds from any item sold within this line goes directly to them.”

Jamie participated in HustleSBE, a business bootcamp for women and minority entrepreneurs. This was her first in-depth entrepreneurship program in the South Bend – Elkhart region – she previously attended a Project Entrepreneur event in New York. She enjoyed the camaraderie with her fellow HustleSBE Cohort 6 members.

“As a solopreneur, I crave a sense of community,” she said. “Previously in my corporate jobs we’d all sit in a meeting room and brainstorm off of each other. I loved being in that type of environment again where I could hear about other peoples’ businesses and ideas, it just gets something clicking within you where you ideate better.”

Hearing different perspectives from her classmates and guest speakers such as lawyers, accountants, and marketers, got Jamie thinking about the future of Blue Adaptation.

“As I grow, there’s several things that I need to keep in perspective in order to move forward,” she said. “I think one of the biggest takeaways was that I’m going to need to hire people eventually. I need to look into trying to build a team. Otherwise, I’ll just burn myself out because I’m wearing all the hats and doing all the jobs.”

Jamie first started forming the idea of Blue Adaptation in 2013 and has been slowly building it ever since. Over the course of her entrepreneurial journey, she’s found resilience to be key.

“There was no fail fast and pivot with this concept,” she said. “It was just keep going, just keep swimming. In the interim, there were actually several brands that came out with something similar. It was interesting to see how something that had existed only in my mind, was then everywhere. But to me, this is more than just a fleeting interest, it’s a passion. It’s the thing that motivates me every day. It’s not just another job, the whole of it is intrinsic to who I am.”

For more information about Blue Adaptation, visit www.blueadaptation.com.