#SWAAYthenarrative
BETA
Close

How Two Women Are Using Soap To Save The Sea

People

Pollution. We all know what it is. We recycle, we buy fuel efficient cars, but do we really know how deep the problem goes? While pollution is probably not something that consumes your day-to-day thoughts--chances are you’re more concerned with happenings on dry land than oceanic environments because--the reality is that our oceans are in trouble.


Cue Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson. These two brave women with curiosities surrounding our carbon footprint decided that they were going to challenge policy and dedicate their careers to studying marine systems.

After meeting in graduate school in a diving program, Callahan and Jackson began researching old rig removal throughout their thesis project. At the time, there was momentum around Rigs-to-Reefs, a law passed in California in 2010 that, “provides an alternative to complete rig removal in which an oil company chooses to modify a platform so that it can continue to support marine life as an artificial reef.” The problem was that there were 27 offshore platforms off the coast of California and none had been converted, so was it actually viable? This question prompted them to push forward researching this topic and potentially influence change.

Emily and Amber describe themselves as environmental consultants. The pair now run a company called Latitudes that assesses offshore marine structures (think oil companies, art installations, or any organization that puts structures into the water) to understand their ecological values. They both emphasized that it’s “very impactful to remove these structures, so we figure out what would be the least impactful way to get them out.” Despite these realities, there’s not a singular culprit in this equation.

"Everyone causes pollution, we’re just as responsible for the oil platforms being there as the oil companies are.”

- Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson

Amidst Emily and Amber’s research, an ecologically-conscious California-native named Jaeson Plon met Amber’s mother while surfing at the beach. Stories were exchanged and eventually introductions were made between him, Emily and Amber. As it turns out, Plon is a surfer, ocean lover and an entrepreneur who co-founded a company called Sea Bottle that produces a natural hand wash, keeping the ocean’s health in mind.

“Thirty percent of plastic bottles end up in the ocean and harm marine life. I wanted to create a safe formula with sustainable packaging that wouldn't damage the environment. There’s a pump on the glass bottle that becomes sea glass then sand, and the pump is reusable so you can refill it.”

- Jaeson Plon

The congruencies between their missions were unavoidable and hinged on their shared passion for recycling, especially when it came to massive rigs, some of the size of the Empire State Building. According to Plon, the moment they’re planted on the ocean floor, marine life begins to flourish around them. Because he was so fascinated by how these two female scientists were turning a negative into a positive through their research, he decided to donate a percentage of every Sea Bottle sale to Emily and Amber’s efforts.

Even still, it’s an ongoing battle. In terms of challenges, the ocean-minded duo admitted that they are usually the only women in the room at conferences and are the youngest by 30 years. “A big challenge for us is that it’s very easy to be looked at as little girls and people don’t take you seriously," says Jackson. "They’ll say things like ‘the ladies of blue latitudes are here.’ So you need to present your information as a man would. Being a woman also has its advantages though. We seem to make more of an impact because people are more interested.”

The argument is always us against them and we hope that moving forward we can actually change that.” Emily acquiesced. We don’t want to promote off-shore drilling at all, we have to understand the reality of our situation and seek more renewables.”

-Emily Callahan

With no pause in sight, this fiercely intelligent duo has seen a few examples of structures that have proven to be valuable, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, and are planning a trip to Southeast Asia this spring to learn more about converted rigs around the globe.

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
Business

How I Turned my Fine Art Drawings into a Temporary Tattoo Empire

I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.

During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.


The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.

Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.

I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.

Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.

My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:

  1. Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
  2. Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
  3. Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
  4. Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!