As conservationists learn more about the dark side of business production, they are left wondering who they should be purchasing from thats aligned with their values. The good news is that sustainable businesses are entering the market every day and giving consumers an environmentally friendly option! The bad news is that not all of these businesses practice what they preach.
Greenwashing, or the false advertising of sustainable practices, is detrimental to the war on climate change. Some businesses and products use deceptive marketing strategies to portray an image of sustainability that is wildly inaccurate. The public ends up with a false sense of confidence that they are being environmental stewards, the businesses profit, and the planet ends up paying the price.
Businesses that openly discuss their manufacturing processes and are proud to explain the details of their sustainable practices are setting a precedent in this market that transparency matters. That is why I wanted to highlight The Happy Sea, a mom-daughter duo based in Florida that creates ocean-inspired apparel, greeting cards, and stickers using charismatic graphic designs. From their recyclable and compostable packaging to water-saving dye machines, The Happy Sea leads an intentional business that keeps the ocean in mind during every step of production. Even more so, they donate portions of their profits to conservation organizations like Orca Conservancy and Ocean Alliance, making sure to give back directly and indirectly.
Building an ethical business from the ground up is something I admire tremendously about Owyn, The Happy Sea's founder and graphic designer. Owyn's story shows that anyone with passion can create something meaningful, and that being a sustainable entrepreneur doesn't require sacrificing quality. She give us the inside scoop to the woman behind this brand, and details exactly how The Happy Sea practices what it preaches for the planet.
"With The Happy Sea, I want people to be able to ask me anything that they want to know and me be able to give them an honest answer that aligns with our morals as a brand."
The Happy Sea by Owyn
1. When and how did you begin loving the ocean?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been completely in love with the ocean. My first word as a baby was “beach," which I like to think that it set up my destiny. By the time I was 5, I had a dream to become a “dolphin doctor,” to help save marine animals and protect our oceans. I continued on with that dream up until my sophomore year of college at Florida Atlantic University when I failed out of math and chemistry for my second time and switched my major, after many tears, to art.
2. At what point did you go from being an ocean lover to an ocean conservationist?
I think that being an ocean lover and an ocean conservationist go hand in hand. If people truly love the ocean, they will want to do everything that they can to protect it. It is so easy to make the smallest little changes in your daily lifestyle to help protect our planet and promote a sustainable lifestyle. The youngest human can pick up trash at the beach, & start learning about the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle.
3. Tell us about the beginning stages of The Happy Sea.
The Happy Sea was started on a whim. I called my mom on April Fools day of my sophomore year of college in hysterics because I was failing out of my classes. All I ever wanted to do was be a marine mammalogist to study orcas and I was quickly realizing that it was becoming a pipe dream. I went to so many chemistry & math tutoring sessions, it just wasnt working out for me. When I called my mom, she thought I was joking. Hours later, my mom realized how serious I was and we came up with somewhat of a plan. My mom has been a graphic designer for as long as I have been alive and she had been working from home for years. She mentioned opening up a shop that gives back to ocean conservation, and maybe starting an in-shop brand to go with it. She told me, “you don’t have to be a marine biologist to love and protect the ocean." I will forever appreciate her for that. It instantly brought me inner peace and hope that I can still play my part. After months of us figuring out logistics, Color it Green an eco-friendly gift shop was opened in Fernandina Beach, FL. A year after that The Happy Sea came into existence. My mom was running the shop and I was still in school, drawing things out for The Happy Sea. I had no expectations for what The Happy Sea was to become. It was just something fun for me to do, and bonding time with my mom. We started out with 10 different card designs in the shop which almost instantly sold out over a single weekend. A few months later we moved onto 3 different beach shirts - The pineapple, jellyfish and surfboards. As the years have gone by The Happy Sea has quickly expanded and gone above and beyond anything I ever thought it would. I cant wait to see where it goes!
4. What makes The Happy Sea a sustainable brand?
We think that it’s super important you know what you are getting when you order from us. We truly want to positively impact our planet and its people, with everything we do, in every aspect of our production. All of our apparel is manufactured in WRAP-certified facilities & we use 7x less water than average for clothing manufacturers: saving 24 million gallons a week...and that all gets recycled afterwards. All of our screen printing is done in-house in Fernandina Beach FL with some LOVE. All of our paper products are made in the USA using FSC certified paper, meaning that with every tree needed to produce our products, others are planted in its place. All of our cards are printed on acid-free, recycled and carbon neutral paper, and printed through a wind-posted, environmentally friendly process that creates minimal waste. When packing boxes for shipment, we try to reuse the packaging we have. We strive to use minimal packing materials or use recycled supplies during our shipping process. We also donate to multiple ocean conservation nonprofits throughout the year such as Orca Conservancy, Ocean Alliance, and Sea to Shore.
5. What sets The Happy Sea apart from other apparel brands?
After watching my moms journey throughout owning an eco-friendly giftshop, I have realized how important it is to be as transparent as possible when running a brand. People are becoming more and more aware of where their products are coming from and how they are being produced. It is incredible. People care about who is making their clothing, and where their money is going. With The Happy Sea, I want people to be able to ask me anything that they want to know and me be able to give them an honest answer that aligns with our morals as a brand. Nothing wishy washy. I have been blessed with a mom who is experienced in the graphics industry, & who has run an extremely successful shop based on sustainability and a step dad who is so talented. All of our apparel is screen printed in house by him! We are a small team of people who work great together and hope to always keep it an open family style team.
6. What is one message you want to share with readers?
Never be too scared to try something new. When The Happy Sea was started, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I still have no idea what I am doing on most days but you just have to go for it! My mom has been my mentor throughout this entire journey and I am so grateful for that. So with the right people on your side, you can do anything you put your heart into! Just jump off the cliff and you’ve got it, no dream is too big or too small.
7. How do you implement sustainable practices in your business and lifestyle?
I am a major believer in the whole ‘walk the walk, talk the talk’ message so I do my best to live my brand. I try to live a very low waste lifestyle. I have multiple stainless steele straws that I carry with me, along with reusable water bottles, produce bags and grocery bags. I am also a die-hard vegetarian, which has a plethora of positive environmental factors intertwined. Every one who keeps The Happy Sea brand alive, believes in sustainablity and making a difference on our planet.
8. What is your dream direction for The Happy Sea?
I would love love love for The Happy Sea to be a household brand name such as Life Is Good or Patagonia. (Yvonn Chouinard is my role model, I have read Let My People Go Surfing multiple times, I highly reccomend it!) It is my dream for The Happy Sea to continue growing as a brand and as a lifestyle.
9. Where can readers go to learn more?
www.thehappysea.com is a great place to go to check out what we are about, read our blog posts. If you subscribe to our email blasts, we always have some deals going and you can see what we are up to!
10. What is your favourite ocean animal?
100% Orca whales. I think I’ve seen Free Willy over a million times, it was my favorite movie as a kid!
11. What is your favourite thing to do in the ocean?
The most peaceful thing to do in the world is be on a boat, swimming in the middle of the ocean. A few years back, I went on a solo trip to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji for a few months and swam in crystal clear waters every day for hours. I stayed on a little island in Fiji called Beach Comber Island where I would take daily swims around the entire island and go on the boat twice a day to the reef to free dive. It was pure bliss.
12. Where do you get inspiration for your graphic designs?
I get inspiration from a few different things for The Happy Sea. The triangle pattern came from the me and my two sisters, Kendyl and Shay. Triangles are also a water sign and that is my astrological sign (I’m a cancer.) They are created through a mosaic look which was inspired by our dear family friend Ruth Ann Petree, who created incredible mosaic art, & chipping stones by hand. She is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my lifetime.
13. What advice to you have for those that want to start their own sustainable business?
GO FOR IT! In this day in age, you can find so many resources to help guide you in the direction you want to go. There are always eco-friendly alternatives to the things that you need, you just need to put in the research to find them. For example, our clear card sleeves are compostable. They are made with plant based polylactic acid instead of plastic. With social media, all you have to do is send a quick message to whatever you would like to know, and chances are people are more than happy to help! All you have to do is ask! With some passion and motivation, it is so possible.
You can learn more about the details of The Happy Sea at their website, which goes above and beyond to showcase their dedication to the ocean through minimizing their environmental footprint.