Maggie Q is a woman on a mission.
The actress and activist is passionate about conserving everything related to the oceans and she’s bringing that message to the forefront through the launch of a new activewear collection. Called Qeep Up (pronounced Keep Up), the line of women’s leggings, shorts, tanks, sports bras, bodysuits, T-shirts, swimwear and half zips are all created from recycled ocean waste.
The line is made in the U.S. from yarn created from plastics collected on the Eastern Seaboard and milled in California. The collection is manufactured in ethical factories in Los Angeles and San Fernando, Calif., “that pay a living wage,” she said. “It’s fully transparent from top to bottom, because it matters. You can’t make a recycled garment in a factory where people aren’t being paid.”
Even the packaging is designed to degrade and will be gone within a year.
Our packaging, the bag, the mailer are 100 percent biodegradable so you don’t have to think,” she said. “You throw it away and it will go away. I’m not doing hang tags, I’m heat pressing everything you need to know about a garment on the garment. Because you just cut the tag off and throw it away. I just don’t want more trash.”
In an interview in a penthouse suite at 1 Hotel Central Park in Manhattan, Q said she has been a champion of the environment for more than two decades and Qeep Up was “born out of my love for conservation.
“I didn’t set out to be a designer or have a line just to have a line, but I’ve been an ocean conservationist for 20 years,” she said. “I was born and raised in Hawaii so my first love is the ocean. I’ve been an activist and fought for marine mammals for many years and wanted to do something that created a larger platform to talk about our oceans and the problems we’re having with plastics and overfishing. This line is my gateway to that.”
Q said she hesitates to use the word “sustainable” since it tends to be overused and instead says she “set out to create a company that is completely conscious.”
She’s had the idea for the collection for more than 10 years but waited until she thought the technology had been perfected. “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to go all the way and create a line that is of equivalent quality of that you would find in a non-recycled Nike or Lululemon,” she said. “When I first started researching recycled yarns, it was about 10 years ago and I didn’t think the yarns were there yet. Because if you do it and you don’t do it well, then you turn people off to the entire thing and they’ll never buy another recycled garment.”
The line will be offered on the brand’s e-commerce site starting Monday and will retail slightly higher than Lululemon, she said, with leggings selling for $125, biker shorts for $108, a bodysuit for $165, T-shirts for $65 and sports bras for $82. Q’s favorite piece, a “workout overall” sells for $118.
Q said she’s the sole investor in Qeep Up because, “I thought that’s how you do things,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t have the wisdom or the education to know any better because I’ve never built a business.”