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Inland Sea’s stand-out approach to ethical retail and crowdfunding

Inland Sea

Inland Sea is a sustainable clothing brand that is combining retail with helping to protect the environment for future generations.

What began as a passion project in 2017 has turned into something much bigger, as founder, Adam Costello, looks to pioneer a revolutionary fibre in clothing creation that could have a positive impact on the environment, as well as customers.

Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Adam about Inland Sea’s journey so far.

Finding an issue that needed solving

As a surfer that lives inland, Adam is fully aware of the litter and plastic pollution in the city, as well as the ways that this ultimately ends up in the sea.

When Adam attended a Patagonia event in 2017, he learnt about the ways that recycled plastic bottles can be used in the creation of t-shirts. From here, he set out to be one of very few independent clothing companies using recycled plastic bottles (PET) in clothing at the time. 

In 2020, Adam and his partner Vic’s podcast called ‘Things can only get Greta’ led to them learning about the ways that clothing can be created from a fibre known as SeaCell, which contains seaweed. 

Adam explained: “When I realised you could use this fibre to blend and make clothing, I knew I had to do this for Inland Sea, so I went about trying to find a way to make this happen.”

The solution

Adam researched the benefits of seaweed as a viable alternative in the production of clothing and decided to use this to combat the negative environmental impact of the fast fashion industry. Seaweed can grow at an incredible rate, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere as much as 20 times more than the equivalent land-based forests, per acre.

As well as having a positive impact on the environment, seaweed-fibre is kinder to the skin as it omits vitamins and minerals when worn, as well as absorbing moisture much better, especially compared to materials like polyester.

Inland Sea

Crowdfunding

Once he had worked out how to use this revolutionary new fibre for the creation of clothing and he had built the necessary contacts, Adam turned to crowdfunding.

After 30+ days of continuous marketing, alongside home schooling their three children throughout the second lockdown in the UK, Adam and Vic successfully raised just over £14,000 through Kickstarter, thanks to the help of more than 200 supporters. This allowed them to create and launch a seaweed-fibre t-shirt range. The most popular design ordered during the crowdfunding period was the t-shirt carrying the campaign’s theme; ‘Does my carbon footprint look big in this?’

Adam shared his advice for anybody looking to raise funds through crowdfunding. He said: “Market yourself every day. It’s an all or nothing model. I’d recommend getting a PR company involved a month or a few weeks before you launch, so you have a bit of press and buzz before you launch. Be aware that it’s going to be every day for 30 or so days to raise the money. Kickstarter is amazing as you have a huge community, but the pressure is there to meet the goal.”

Changing attitudes

Inland Sea looks to change the way people think about fast fashion and the impact it has on the planet.

Adam explained: “Change is slowly happening but some people will always grab that piece of cheap clothing and turn a blind eye to how and where it is made. The more we can educate and expose the big companies doing it, the better. We find that it is often a way in, to explain that what you’re wearing matters for your health as well as knowing where it’s made and that people get fair pay. It obviously costs more to create seaweed shirts than from other materials, so at this stage I want to create this t-shirt line and get people talking about this. Seaweed is really good for your skin and it doesn’t need land, chemicals or water to produce like cotton, or polyester which uses fossil fuels.”

Packaging

As well as investing into products that are great for the environment and customers alike, Inland Sea has invested into ethical packaging.

Adam said: “We were using recycled card before, but there are issues with this and using anything that comes from trees, so we use corn-based packaging from a company called NoIssue. What I want is to push for packaging to be made out of seaweed eventually.”

Carbon offsetting

As well as creating sustainably-sourced clothing, Inland Sea plants seaweed for every order placed. 

Adam added: “The business model I created during the Kickstarter means that we invest back into seaweed farms. Planting seaweed for every order offsets our carbon footprint and we would recommend other businesses to do the same. We think it’s better than planting trees, as seaweed soaks up carbon as soon as it starts to grow.”

With the average person in the UK producing 23kgs of CO2 per day, Inland Sea’s intention is to make sustainable clothing ranges using seaweed, while helping to establish seaweed farms to offset huge amounts of carbon.

As one of the first independents to do this, Inland Sea’s dream is to help extract a gigaton of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030.

Adam - Founder of Inland Sea

What’s next for Inland Sea?

Inland Sea are looking to establish their business as a pioneer of using seaweed in clothing, as well as investing back into seaweed farms in the UK to offset their carbon footprint, helping restore lost ocean ecosystems and continuing to solve the climate crisis.

Adam is dedicated to continuing Inland Sea’s great work, adding: “We’ve sparked tonnes of interest about seaweed, so we want to be seen as the pioneers of using seaweed in clothing and kickstart the seaweed industry in the UK. We want to use Inland Sea as a platform to educate and change people’s minds and show the impact that seaweed can have in solving the climate crisis.”

Click here to view the Inland Sea website.

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