Eco-Friendly, Female CEOs open up about the meaning behind their products.
Just a few short weeks ago AKUA, the sustainable, seagreens-based food company, sampled their ever famous KELP JERKY at our store in LA. The company was founded by Courtney Boyd Myers (CMB), an innovative female powerhouse that Fast Company included in its ‘Most Creative People in Business List.’ As an adviser to GreenWave, a nonprofit that supports the regenerative ocean farming industry, she is on a mission to create food that fights climate change.
In light of the fires that continue to devastate Australia, we found this dual interview with CMB and our own like-minded CEO, Phoebe Yu, to be inspiring, enlightening, and if you allow us to be somewhat sentimental, full of hope for the future.
Q: How did you both come up with the idea of creating products to promote an eco-lifestyle?
Phoebe: Ettitude is founded on the belief that quality does not mean sacrificing the planet. Our bedding, bath and sleep accessories are luxe in quality, feathery soft, affordable, and healthy for you and the planet.
While others offer bamboo bedding using toxic rayon or viscose technology, we spent years refining and testing to create an evolved and improved new generation of CleanBamboo™ fabric, which is the world’s first lyocell made from bamboo.
CMB: I started the company when I was an adviser to GreenWave. When I asked the farmers what they truly needed, they answered, “We need your help creating a consumer market for kelp.”
So, I started sending out 5lb bags of frozen kelp to all my chef friends across the U.S. We came up with dozens of cool products and hosted tastings in New York, LA, and SF. One chef came up with kelp jerky, burgers, and sausages—all vegan and made from kelp and mushrooms—that made me think, “Wow, what if we could create a line of meat alternative products from one of the most sustainable sources of food on the planet?
Q: What is the meaning behind the words AKUA and Ettitude?
CMB: AKUA is a Hawaiian / Polynesian word that refers to the gods, goddesses, & spirits that oversee these island, ocean-loving nations. We used to be called “Beyond the Shoreline” and then worked with a fancy branding agency to come up with a short punchy name like our friends at AWAY, ADAY, and ETTITUDE!
Today, our AKUA brand is all about raising awareness for the climate crisis, food sustainability, and ocean health.
Phoebe: Wow, thanks for including us in that list of brands. It means the world to us.
Ettitude is a combination of Eco + Attitude. Living with an ‘Eco Attitude’ is about being proud to live your life in a way that promotes sustainability. As a company, our Eco Attitude is at the center of everything we do. You should see our office! We are always on the lookout for inspiration in the form of snacks (cough cough kelp jerky), thought leaders, and other like-minded zero-waste companies, and our working environment is a reflection of that. As we continue to grow and launch new products such as hair scrunchies, PJs, eye masks, and more, we want our customers to know they can always count on us to put the environment first.
Q: Sourcing and transparency are paramount in both of your industries and products. Can you give us some insight into your process?
Phoebe: Our bamboo is harvested from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified farms. It is important to us that we pay a fair price and support farmers and families that raise their bamboo sustainably.
The true difference between our CleanBamboo™ and others, is that the process does not require harmful chemicals. In the lyocell process, raw bamboo is dissolved using a non-toxic solvent, which produces a non-hazardous effluent. Together with the water used in production, the solution is recycled and reused in a closed-loop system. Therefore, there are no residues of harmful chemicals and water consumption is reduced significantly. Oh, and it is stronger and softer as well!
CMB: 100% of the ocean farms we work with are located in Maine – the most progressive state for seaweed aquaculture. Our biggest group of farms is run by the Salt Sisters – who are an incredible group of ocean farming women that support each other through addiction recovery.
We are one of the first companies to utilize the emerging U.S. based supply chain of ocean-farmed kelp, supporting the creation of hundreds of new jobs in our coastal communities.
Q: Why are Kelp and Bamboo based products good for the environment?
CMB: Did you know that Kelp is often called “the bamboo of the sea”? While kelp is growing (up to 5” per day!), it is drawing down carbon and nitrogen from our oceans 20x more effectively than land-based plants, helping to reverse ocean acidification. Also, unlike most other food items you eat today, our kelp grows abundantly without the need of fresh water, dry land, fertilizer, or feed. All in a time when animal agriculture uses ⅓ of our water, uses ⅓ of our land, and is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
Phoebe: Bamboo doesn’t require fertilizer and it regenerates from its own roots. Conversely, cotton requires fertilizer, labor, and water in order to thrive. When you make the switch to Ettitude from cotton, you are saving about 3,000 gallons of water! In short, Bamboo uses less natural resources to harvest and grows quickly in most environments with less manual labor and water consumption.
We will definitely be keeping an eye out for more Kelp based products from AKUA this year. It is about time Cauliflower and Kale shared the spotlight anyways! You might also enjoy reading about why all bamboo sheets aren’t the same, how alternative down comforters are changing the way we sleep, and how you can help the environment every time you do laundry.