Stream2Sea of Hardee County
“I was diving in Palau five years ago and as I was coming up to my safety stop, I saw a rainbow coming off of a group of snorkelers,” Blum said. “As I got closer to the surface, I realized that it wasn’t a rainbow; it was an oil slick.”
When she got back on the boat, she said she realized the slick was from all of the sunscreen the group of snorkelers were putting on their bodies.
“I was looking at all of the people around me applying sunscreen,” she added. “We were all washing with shampoo, body wash and conditioners, and it was running right overboard into the most beautiful, pristine reefs I have ever seen.”
A cosmetic chemist working in the natural products industry for nearly 20 years, she questioned if these ingredients were truly safe for humans, let alone safe for the environment she was swimming in. Shortly after she returned home from her trip, she quit her job and started formulating a new product line.
Stream2Sea is the only line of mineral sunscreen and body care products that has been tested and proven not to harm humans, fresh and saltwater fish, and coral larva. The entire line is oxybenzone-free, octinoxate-free and paraben-free.
Blum started her company in a Hardee County incubator and said that the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, located at South Florida State College and led locally by business consultant Michael Noel, was involved from the very beginning.
“Right off the bat Florida SBDC at USF was involved with the setup over at the incubator facility,” she said. “Initially they helped with setting up my business plan. We also talked about export assistance, how they could help interact with Enterprise Florida and introduce us to the right people. I incorporated in 2014, we launched our product line in 2015, and I have been working with the SBDC since we started.”
Blum has learned that now is the right time and the right market to launch an eco-conscious, biodegradable sunscreen and body care product line. She said that Stream2Sea has seen tremendous growth since opening.
In the first year, the company grew 300 percent. Since they began, the lowest growth they have experienced was 100 percent. They project between 200 and 300 percent growth this year.
“We are getting inquiries from all over the world,” she said. “Right now, I’m working on a project with Enterprise Florida to help get our products registered in the EU. There is a mountain of paperwork and it’s very confusing and complicated. They are helping guide us through the process.”
With the help of the Florida SBDC at USF’s international specialist, Selma Canas, and Enterprise Florida, Stream2Sea Vice President Mike Malterre explained that they are entering markets they never dreamed they could possibly reach before.
“The export marketing plan that was provided for us really opened our eyes to different foreign markets we haven’t thought about,” Malterre said. “For one, Japan was not on our radar at all. We have found that there is amazing potential for us there and we are really looking forward to how Enterprise Florida and the SBDC can assist us with that sort of exporting to foreign markets.”
Malterre and Blum both agree that seeking out the resources of the Florida SBDC at USF is a smart move for any small business owner.
“As a small business, it is difficult to figure out where to turn to get help,” Malterre said. “The Florida SBDC at USF provides a tremendous wealth of information. They are very helpful and hold your hand through all of the processes. It’s a terrific way to get started.”