Carve Designs’ Documentary Shines a Spotlight on Mothers

Camille Cunningham and daughter (Emy Dossett)

The connection between the sea and sustainability is an easy one to understand; water is essential to life, and to fully appreciate it, we have to understand how invaluable it is. And that’s something that Jennifer Hinton, co-founder of Marin-based brand Carve Designs, understands well, threading that idea into the brand’s ethos as well as the clothes.

Both sustainability and a love for the ocean are part of the foundation of Carve Designs, which started as a surf apparel company 20 years ago. Founded by Hinton and her friend Thayer Sylvester, the brand now includes pants, blouses, dresses and more, but the sustainably made swimwear is what Carve Designs is best known for. Yet lovers of beach lifestyle wear may not know that Carve Designs recently branched out into filmmaking, creating a short documentary that brings together some of the things that are most important to the brand.

The documentary, titled Mothers, Purpose, and the Future, introduces viewers to four mothers who are fostering environmentalism within their young children. Filmed and directed by Hannah Walsh, the documentary is available to watch online, but has also had a number of successful screenings. Carve Designs premiered the film at Mill Valley’s Proof Lab in May 2022, it was shown at the Montauk Film Festival, and it was named second runner-up for Best Short Film at the Surf City Festival in Huntington Beach.

The idea of making a documentary was something that happened organically, starting with the desire to tell stories about mothers whose ideals aligned with the company’s. “We really wanted to highlight the innate power women have to teach their children to grow in an environmental mindset,” Hinton says. Then the two looked to the inspiring women they already knew. The film spotlights Camille Cunningham, Nellie Pickett, Danielle Black Lyons (co-founder of women’s surf collective Textured Waves) and Cameron Barnum, all offering a glimpse of how they’re raising their children to live in harmony with nature. While Pickett’s segment was filmed in rural Montana, the other three take to the waves from their own locales, but all four speak of their experiences as mothers who are doing their best to teach their children to not only love the planet in a hands-on way, but protect it, too.

“They all had unique takes on how they instilled environmentalism in their children, and they all felt like very feasible, understandable, attainable things that we all could do,” says Hinton. “And I think there’s so much to bite off that it’s so important to help people see that we can all make small changes, because small changes add up to big changes.” These women and their approaches to motherhood mirror the many approaches to environmental responsibility; you do it the best way that works for you, it looks different for everyone and your efforts can sometimes be overlooked, something that Hinton pointed out when speaking to the importance of featuring mothers in the documentary: “I think moms are an untapped resource, and this just felt right up our alley,” she says. “We like to lift up women and also wanted to wrap our sustainability story in because it starts at the ground level. Your kids learn from you how to navigate the world and moms do an amazing job of that.”