T-shirts fund ocean preservation
Adam Johnson and Conor Outerbridge met through the island’s surfing community but bonded over their love for the ocean.
Determined to do their part in cleaning the seas, they started apparel company, Marooned Clothing.
For every T-shirt sold, $4 goes towards their charity, Marooned Ocean Foundation.
“That will allow us to fund projects that we think will be helpful to the ocean,” Mr Johnson said.
“Our goal was to create something that can then fund the charity so you’re not relying on the Government, you’re not relying on private owners, you’re funding it through the sale of quality goods and raising awareness.”
Three styles of T-shirts debut on Friday when the company launches at Alchemy gym on Reid Street. Mr Outerbridge’s prints and videos will also be on display.
A classic crew-neck design with a chain-stitched logo is manufactured by California-based company Known Supply.
Mr Johnson said: “On the inside of those T-shirts, there’s a plaque with a signature of who made the T-shirt. It’s connecting you to the person who made your T-shirt.”
One style, more fashion-focused, will have a longer hem. Another, produced at an employee-owned factory in Los Angeles, will feature Mr Outerbridge’s photographic-drone prints on the back.
“It’s sustainably manufactured so the cotton that’s used in the T-shirt is 100 per cent organic, grown in California,” Mr Johnson said.
“The idea behind that is to highlight the beauty of the ocean. In Bermuda, we see it every day, but we’re hoping to sell these shirts overseas as well.”
The pair organise monthly beach cleanups. Eventually they hope to expand the line to other products such as sustainably made swimwear.
Their first initiative is a partnership with Greenrock for an island-wide schools programme.
“If we sell all the T-shirts we brought in, we should have $1,600 for the charity,” he said.
“[Greenrock] are already in schools around the island. The children can sign off their community service hours by attending our beach cleanups.
“This is a perfect way of incentivising children to clean up around the island.”
The second project is an art competition. Students will create pieces out of plastic found at the beach or in the ocean, and compete for prizes.
“It brings awareness and it gets children involved,” Mr Johnson said.
The 27-year-old grew up in Bermuda and Florida. Completing his studies at the University of Exeter, England, he found work as a lawyer in London. The ocean has always held his attention.
“I wrote my dissertation in law school about the Sargasso Sea Commission and the international law aspects of protecting an area beyond national jurisdiction,” he explained.
Although he had known his business partner for years, the pair really connected last summer when Mr Johnson pledged to circumnavigate the island to raise money for the Sargasso Sea Commission.
He approached the photographer to video his efforts — almost 11 hours of stand-up paddling.
“It was hard, but it was cool,” he said.
“Through that, we understood that we both have a love for the ocean and a mutual passion for the sea being protected.”
A shared surf trip to Panama combined with Mr Outerbridge’s aerial pictures fuelled the design and they contacted suppliers in February.
Mr Johnson said he always wanted to start a business with a sustainable agenda.
“Bermuda is a perfect place to launch it and have the charity based,” he said.
“Bermuda’s reef is flourishing. Bermuda could, in 20 to 30 years, be the place where everyone comes to scuba dive as opposed to the Barrier Reef and places like that, which are dying off.”
Mr Johnson believes it’s important not to undervalue the reefs. He attended the Ocean Risk Summit two weeks ago, an event that confirmed the urgency of his actions.
“It was a great conference,” he said.
“So many important people that focus on the ocean from all around the world were in Bermuda. My interpretation is that they were calling on Bermuda to take a stand — to be an example.
“It’s so important for Bermuda. In Mexico, they started to insure the reefs because it’s a huge tourism pull for them. As the reefs are dying through coral bleaching, they’re losing a lot of divers.
“It is economically important for Bermuda and it is important because they provide a barrier between us and hurricanes.”
•Join Adam Johnson and Conor Outerbridge as they launch Marooned Clothing on Friday at Alchemy gym from 5pm to 9pm. T-shirts are $45, cash only. For more information: www.maroonedocean.com or @marooned_clothing on Instagram