Noel Huelsenbeck began surfing in NJ sparking a lifelong love affair with the ocean which transformed into the eco-conscious surf clothing brand, PuraKai – which means Pure Ocean. The clothing line is all american made and each purchase goes toward ocean conservation. We spoke with owner and founder Noel to find out about how PuraKai began and the brands mission.
Talk a little bit about your connection to surfing and your brands mission?
I started surfing with my dad around 7 or 8. Growing up on a barrier island six miles off the New Jersey coast life revolved around the ocean. If the surf was good we were on it, if the surf was flat we were fishing offshore or crabbing and clamming in the bay. And I think this is true for most surfers, it’s beyond just catching waves, it’s a lifestyle of being connected to the ocean in many ways. So our mission is simply to create the most ocean friendly clothing and to provide a portion of our profits to support non-profits promoting ocean conservation.
PuraKai means Pure Ocean. It’s the idea we as surfers should be mindful about our purchases and choose ocean-friendly products. PuraKai was founded by a father and daughter, dad is a lifelong surfer who grew up on Long Beach Island in NJ, his daughter is also a surfer, but she’s also very passionate about stylish clothing and protecting the environment.
What are the major challenges of running an eco-conscious clothing line?
Well some people might think of eco-conscious as more of a fad than a long term sustainable way to create clothing that lessens the impact on our oceans. As surfers we have a lot to lose if we can’t win the battle to maintain a healthy ocean.
For an organic clothing line, how are you able to keep your pricing so affordable?
We are a direct to consumer clothing company that sells exclusively online and we manufacture everything ourselves. We’re one of the few brands that works directly with farmers and ranchers to create the fabrics that go into our clothing. We actually grew organic cotton in California and made shirts entirely in the USA, we work with ranchers in Wyoming that humanely raise the sheep we use to make our Merino Wool Sustainable Beanie.
We’re working on lots of new fabrics and expanding the line. We’ve got a new line of clothing and beanies that is made entirely from recycled plastic beer bottles and recycled cotton. And this is great because it eliminates the need to dye the fabric. The dye process uses tons of water, a big issue in California. In fact it’s been reported that the world produces 30 million tons of cotton fiber annually, and the amount of water needed to dye each year’s supply is the equivalent of the drinking water for every person on the planet for 141 days. We’ve got lots to do to help heal and protect the oceans, not just for us surfers, but for all of mankind.
Thank you Noel for speaking with us and we love your mission to protect our oceans. Keep up the amazing work.
All images are supplied by the talented B. Rose. Check her out.
SHOP PuraKai >>