You’ve probably read a lot about Stream2Sea, the hot eco-conscious sunscreen, skin and hair products company. What you probably didn’t know much about is the story behind Stream2Sea AND the company’s founder Autumn Blum.
Autumn is an Ocean Advocate, PADI Instructor, cosmetic chemist, shark diver, Olympic Caliber skeet-shooter, entrepreneur and animal lover. Here are her thoughts about Stream2Sea, WHY it’s important to be “eco-conscious” and HOW the dive industry can easily get on board to protect the world’s oceans and aquatic realm.
Knowing that every product we use on our bodies and in our hair ultimately reaches the ocean, our mission is to create the highest quality, biodegradable skin, sun and hair care products available. Each product is to be safe not only for you and your family, but also for the sustainability of our environment. But how?
Hi — I’m Autumn and I’m a cosmetic chemist turned entrepreneur. There’s no 12 step program for my affliction. It’s who I am and what I do. When I’m not scuba diving or working, you can often find me standing in the aisle of a grocery store or health food store reading ingredient panels on shampoos and sunscreens. I can’t help myself.
At 23, I started a natural skin care company. Always under-funded and boot-strapping, I eventually grew the distribution to include millions of dollars in sales through more than 3,000 retail outlets in the US and abroad. In 2009, I sold Organix-South and the TheraNeem brand to a publicly traded company. I worked for them for a few years—it was fascinating learning how the ‘big boys’ operate—and I truly enjoyed most of the work. But I was restless. I’m an entrepreneur. I create things and learned early on that I don’t work so well for others. If I disagree with something, I’m not so good at keeping my mouth closed. And asking permission to do something? Not real good at that either. Telling me I can’t do something is like telling a kid not to push the big, red shiny button. My friends and colleagues all knew this and kept asking what I was going to do next.
It was wonderful growing my little company from an idea into a premier natural products brand, but it was exhausting too. I needed the mental break of being an employee for a few years—not having to deal with the minutia of running a business— but still wanted to able to create and make a difference in my small way. But I always knew I would jump back in when I found the right passion plan.
And that happened when John, the guy I’m dating, said, “I’m going diving in Palau. Want to come along?”
Several months later, we were diving off a live-aboard yacht in one of the most remote dive destinations in the world. The water was spectacular, and it was definitely the healthiest coral reef I had ever seen. After every dive, I would watch the other divers shower on the dive deck, washing their hair with commercial products, suds rinsing right overboard. They’d then slather silicone-based conditioners with nasty preservatives in their hair, and a tropical sunscreen or some aerosol-based product all over their body. An hour later, we’d all jump back in the ocean to do it over again.
This can’t be good, I thought.
It gnawed at me all trip. I had read the reports of sunscreen actives being implicated in coral bleaching. I knew the ingredients in these products would never pass muster in a health food store, and I certainly didn’t like the idea of them going into these pristine waters. Another diver on board must have felt the same, since she was washing her hair with Bronner’s natural soap.
Probably better for the world, but I might as well shave my head like John if I was going to use that on my curly hair!
When I got home, I started looking for eco-conscious products I might use on my next trip or dive. I found a few varieties in the local dive shops stating reef safe or reef friendly. Then, I read the ingredients and, between you and me, I was so disappointed…
So…what’s a cosmetic chemist to do? I leave my job, pour over ingredient safety data, jump in the lab, then set out to prove (to me and the world) that they are truly safe. It’s my hope that you will join me on this crazy adventure, because I truly believe it’s possible to create a body care line that erases the lines between safe for the environment and safe for your body. I’m in the process of proving this through a wide range of testing that no other “water-friendly” product has done.
We CAN and WILL do better, and I’d like to share this journey with you. Stay tuned!
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