Women in sustainable enterprise…

(Written by Flo)

Seaweed Surf Shack CIC is a women-led social enterprise, which myself and my friend Beth started over lockdown. Here we share the stories of the women we have met over the years, who have inspired us to get to this point.

Firstly, Kalkidan from Sancho’s in Exeter. I met Kalkidan back at Exeter University, one evening when for some reason we were camping on the steps outside the library. Whilst people chatted, shared food, and someone even started doing some fire poi, Kalkidan and I chatted about our shared interest in sustainability, and Kalkidan told me about Sancho’s – her sustainable fashion business started with her partner. I then watched as Sanchos Dress evolved from a pop-up shops and Christmas market, to an incredible, beautiful shop on Exeter Fore Street. Sancho’s sells beautiful ethical clothing, made using sustainable fibres, and supporting the people who make the clothes and grow the fibres. Check out their store here.

Sancho’s shop front on Exeter Fore Street

More recently, I met Meg Haines of Câr-Y-Môr (‘For the Love of the Sea’ in Welsh). I met Meg last September, when she ran a seaweed potion kitchen at our first Seaweed Surf Shack workshop. Meg is a trained forest leader, but in the last year has switched her skills to seaweed and shellfish farming off the coast of Pembrokeshire! Meg has an incredible drive for creating sustainable ocean jobs and developing the Welsh seaweed sector. She is involved in everything at the farm, from setting out lines, managing the business side of things, to sustainably harvesting different species and engaging young people in seaweed at the beach. I asked Meg what she loves most about seaweed – ‘Seaweed farming is like creating underwater gardens. We have the potential to heal entire ecosystems, whilst providing people with local, nutritious and sustainable food’.

Meg showing some sugar kelp growing on the lines at Câr-Y-Môr

I’ve also recently met Abbi, founder of Big Meadow CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I’ve been volunteering at the field for a few months now, and am amazed by the community that Abbi has created. The field provides organic veg for local families, and more importantly, a time for people to come together across Swansea and Gower to learn about organic growing, and drink lots of tea and eat cake in the open air! Abbi said her favourite thing about growing organic veg is ‘knowing who I am growing it for, building a relationship with our members and in turn, our members knowing how, where and by whom their veg has been grown’. The veg is delicious too.

Abbi and Morys the dog at Big Meadow CSA

Most recently, I’ve met I Tess from Seatox Seaweed. I can sense a long lasting collaboration between Seaweed Surf Shack and Tess’s business. Tess has Irish roots and sources sustainable harvested seaweed from the coast of Ireland, which she then makes into amazing organic and vegan skincare products. I again asked Tess what she loves about seaweed – ‘ What I love about seaweed, is it’s humbleness. Seaweed floats around in the sea, some even run away from it at the beach, yet this impressive algae is abundant with minerals and vitamins that improve our wellbeing. I am marvelled at the results of studies on seaweed, not only for beauty and skincare, but for other purposes like nutrition, food, and everything from reducing the methane in cow’s farts, to optimising electric car batteries! Seaweed is going to be such a big part of our future!’.

Tess O’Shea from Seatox Seaweed
Some of the Irish harvested seaweed Tess uses to make organic product

And before I forget, I must mention both of my good friends Beth and Ella from the Seaweed Surf Shack CIC. My friendship with both of these women has only strengthened over the years, and through the past few months of launching the Seaweed Surf Shack CIC in a lockdown! Without such a strong team of women, I definitely would have given up on my dream a long time ago!

Myself, Ella and Beth – the Seaweed Surf Shack CIC tea

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