Welcome to my story of sea dreams and mermaid wishes.
My two favorite places in the world to be, are behind the books or in the garden. In my home during spring and summer you can typically find fresh cut flowers, hand picked strawberries and sun warmed tomatoes gathered from my yard. For me the joy of growing something from seed always makes the harvest so much more decadent. I love watching those little plant babies, grow up. The concept of Aquaculture never occurred to me until I began to formulate for my skin care brand Ama SeaBeauty.
A Sea Star is Born
Three years ago my husband, Daniel, and I hosted our 1st brainstorming session with colleagues, friends and work associates in our home in Santa Barbara, CA. During that meeting the concept of Ama (not yet named) was born. In that same gathering I decided if we were to create a seaweed based product we would need full vertical integration. Future sourcing could potentially become a serious issue and this had to be addressed at the very beginning of product development. This was key in order for us to set proper projections and it had to be written into the business plan.
We put the idea of owning a sea farm in our back pocket, much like one does the idea of going to Fiji. Wouldn’t that just be lovely?? But how many actually buy those tickets?
We continued to move forward with a sea gel based skin care line. We taught ourselves how to hand harvest seaweed, identify species, understand reproductive cycles and chase the tides. You can always find the Marquez’s out at low tide walking as far as the shore will allow. Then home we go to sort, clean and experiment in every way possible. Seaweed experimentation became my total obsession. This activity got me banned from the kitchen, and replacing pots and pans many times over.
Then that fateful day came when I received an email from a colleague who was searching online for bio-lumes. She ran across a little Sunny Side Sea farm in Santa Barbara. She sent me an email to ask if I knew of them. WIthin 20 minutes I was on the phone with Dr Bruce Harger. We set an appointment for Daniel and I to meet at Sunnyside a week later
On Sunnyside website there was a mention of Neushul Mariculture and a 25 acre sea farm. I dove head first into the internet to do my research. What I found was enough to blow anyone’s mind. SunnySide Farm was the original home of Neushul Mariculture that was once a research lab, seaweed hatchery and a 25-acre thriving sea-farm. It was the only of it’s kind on the entire West Coast. We had a meeting scheduled with Dr. Harger. who currently ran the business. We expressed interest in leasing and reestablishing the sea-farm as a working facility and Dr. Harger was all ears.. Once we were off the phone my husband and I looked at each and at the same time we asked the question, “Did that really just happen?” For a few days it didn’t seem possible. It definitely felt like magic was in the air.
Seaweed, “Whos’ your Daddy?”
If sustainability and responsible sourcing practices were to be a marketing point for our seaweed gel products we would need to take souring into our own hands. Sooner or later a seaweed farm would need to be acquired if we were to be assured that we had the capacity to create the supply to match the demand we hoped our products would generate.
During the developing of my brand, DNA testing of products was brought to my attention. Just like the paternity of children products will soon be under the same scrutiny. It became clear to me that sourcing will eventually fall under mandatory DNA testing protocols and this was something worth considering at the beginning of setting up our business practices. DNA testing of sourced ingredients very well may be something that future consumers look for in brands.
The best way to assure my seaweed babies supply the most traceable bloodlines, was to know what waters they are grown in. In order to make sure our products transitions included traceable bloodlines, we must own our own plot of sea.
While on the phone with Dr Bruce Harger suddenly we took a dream of our pocket and set it on the table. We were ready to buy that ticket to the land where sea farms really do exist.
Sea Life – A New Way
The branding products was a new experience and finding searching for reliable sourcing became quite an educational process. I was shocked that a sea industry to supply thalasso products did not exist in the U.S. Every product I ordered came from outside the U.S. There are no large scale cosmetic, powder, extract or raw seaweed supplier in the U.S. All I could find was a small handful of suppliers that could not even begin to keep up with the demand.
The day finally came and we met Dr. Bruce Harger and suddenly we could Sea the possibilities. As a result Phamersea will soon be an American supplier of thalasso products that include: powders, extracts and raw material.
Pharmersea exist to:
- Bring a much needed industry to the region.
- To put out of work fisherman back to work
- Help to halt overfishing by offering fisherman alternative choices for work
- Re establish native seaweed along the CA coastline
- Provide the West Coast with a aquaculture research and educational facility.
- Eventually create a Sea University (Sea U) that offers training and support for future aquaculture farmers worldwide.
- Rebuild coastal habitats in order for water animal life to thrive
- Create and supply an American source of thalasso therapy products
- Devlop an ocean mitigation bank
Just as a ghost floats in and out of a room Dr Bruce Harger was only with us for two months. He unexpectedly passed away just months of our meeting. As a result a sea farm was gifted to us within a year of his death. WIthin weeks of Dr. Bruce Harger’ passing – Bren Smith and Greenwave, entered our life. And things have never been the same.
Stay tuned for more.....