MSD sophomores start ocean and beach conservation business


Nya Owusu-Afriyie

Sophomores Gracyn Haynes, Lily Shortz, Stephanie Bilsky, and Emma Kramer show off their handmade bracelets they created together for their ocean conservation business. The girls decided to form a business that makes and sells bracelets in order to help protect and preserve the ocean’s environment.

Jessie Gesund, Associate Editor-In-Chief

According to, there are eight million tons of plastic dumped into the ocean each year, which is equivalent to 17.6 billion pounds of waste. Manatees are being run over by boats and coral reefs are being destroyed by humans. Problems arising in and around the ocean are encouraging people to take the initiative to solve them.

“Humans have such a huge impact on the marine environment and it’s our mission to help conserve it and give back to its inhabitants,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sophomore Gracyn Haynes said.

Save Our Wave SoFlo, created by MSD students Stephanie Bilsky, Gracyn Haynes, Lily Shortz and Emma Kramer, is a company that sells beach attire and accessories. These may include hats and bracelets, with a percentage of the proceeds donated to ocean and beach-based organizations to help combat humans’ negative impact on the ocean.

Each month’s handmade products’ designs correlate with the featured organization they will be donating to.

“For the first month, we are working with a shark organization, so our logo [had] a smiley face with a shark as the mouth,” Haynes said.

The girls met in middle school and became close during the last school year as they were part of the few students who attended in-person school when the majority of students were in online school. The idea for the business came about when Haynes wanted to start a beach clean-up club.

“I love the beach, it’s my favorite place ever. I feel like the beach just calms me, it’s my home and happy place,” Haynes said.

Haynes introduced the idea to Kramer, Shortz and Bilsky to find someone to sponsor their club, but couldn’t find the right person.The girls took matters into their own hands and got to work on creating Save Our Wave SoFlo.

“Not only will the organizations be beach-orientated, they will also be for helping sea creatures and the oceanic environment,” Shortz said.

The four of them work together in-person and over FaceTime. Each works on a separate focus of the business, such as designing, finances, picking organizations and much more. They all collectively approve every decision made.

The business is based out of South Florida, but is looking to support any ocean-based organizations.

“[We participate in] generally oceanic things and we’re trying to help support local nonprofits; but moving forward, we are looking to open up on the national level,” Kramer said.

The new entrepreneurs plan to have their first product launch on Oct. 1. In the meantime, they have their website, Instagram and TikTok account up. The business posts regular updates on products and ways to help the environment.

“Only 10% of businesses get out of the startup stage, and we want to be in that ten percent,” Shortz said.

The girls are driven towards expanding their business and plan on utilizing social media and word-of-mouth to get their beach attire and accessories out there.