I Am Changing the World with Seaweed!
Who am I?
I am a social entrepreneur and the founder of Samudra Skin & Sea. Samudra, the Sanskrit word for ‘ocean,’ is an organic skincare line featuring wild-harvested seaweed sourced in a socially and eco-conscious manner. Our goal is to help empower coastal rural women through seaweed harvesting opportunities and inspire protection of our global oceans.
What exactly do I do?
I’ve worked in the sector of ocean advocacy for nine years. My experience encompasses work in ocean plastic prevention, marine-protected area legislation, ocean exploration, sustainable seafood and marine mammal advocacy. I continue to promote ocean conservation efforts through the Samudra brand. Ultimately, I want to reach consumers that are not necessarily embedded in sustainability issues to create greater momentum towards positive global change.
Why does my work matter?
A lot of people are talking about the benefits of seaweed, which was recently deemed the new superfood of 2016. Samudra is taking this a step further by utilizing seaweed in organic skincare while benefiting people and the planet. For instance, we are utilizing seaweed species harvested sustainably both locally and globally from women farmers in India.
How did I end up doing this?
For the last four years I have researched seaweed in the context of conservation, remediation, social, political, economic, as well as its use in health and wellness products. Through this process, I’ve learned of its nutritional benefits for people and marine life as well as the socio-economic benefits provided to farmers when not only harvested sustainably but through a viable payment structure. My first-hand experience in India demonstrated how many coastal villages are suffering from reduced catches due to overfishing and climate change. I believe the Samudra model for seaweed harvesting could offer alternative employment opportunities to fishing with an emphasis on bringing women out of poverty.
I put my research into practice about a year ago by developing seaweed-infused products utilizing organic ingredients made in California. After trial and error, we’ve achieved an incredibly lush and nourishing formula for the skin, including antioxidant driven vitamins as well as 60 trace minerals contained in seaweed. Samudra recently became an attainable social enterprise that we will launch in April.
What has been most challenging about doing this work?
Access to capital and figuring out how to make a grassroots approach work in these early stages.
Have there been any transformative moments as a result of doing this work?
Yes! In 2014, I visited the southern most part of India and learned how hundreds of rural coastal women turn to seaweed harvesting through the contract farming system. I was amazed by how this fairly low-intensive operation (most of the harvesting is conducted on land) was providing jobs for many poverty-stricken women for the first time in their lives. And I was inspired to bring their harvest to the global market.
Where I am going with this project?
My motivation for creating Samudra is threefold: 1) offering consumers a healthy alternative to traditional skincare products by using simple, recognizable organic ingredients, 2) helping provide economic opportunity to women seaweed farmers in rural coastal areas of the world and 3) using the power of communication to inspire protection of our global ocean.
What do I envision for the world?
Stronger interconnections between global economies, cultures, environments as well as the mind, body, and spirit. Through Samudra, I plan to elevate focus on people, planet, and prosperity.