They may not even have reached the ripe old age of 20 yet, but the founders of Carapeace have already developed and created their own clothing line and found a way to give back to a cause near and dear to their hearts.
Key Rats Nicolas Chaves, Gabriel Hernandez and George Shalhub created Carapeace to sell fashionable, comfortable clothing – the kind of things you’d wear for a relaxing day at the beach or around town – and, at the same time, benefit sea turtle conservation.
“The Key Biscayne beach inspired the creation of Carapeace,” Shalhub said. “As Key Biscayne residents, the beach is a place where we spend much of our time.”
As they did so, Chaves, Hernandez and Shalhub noticed something that troubled them: people routinely disturbed sea turtle nests on the beach. They reached out to multiple sea turtle conservation organizations to learn how to better protect these areas, and as a result also learned how funding shortages often prevented these organizations from protecting turtles’ homes.
Shalhub noted, “Our upbringing on Key Biscayne and in South Florida heavily influenced the creation of Carapeace. The appreciation of the beautiful ocean and the colorful spirit that surrounds anyone that visits or lives in South Florida is contagious.
“We want to help preserve as much as possible of what makes Key Biscayne and South Florida’s beaches special for many decades to come.”
The trio agreed very quickly on a concept and a mission.
“With sea turtles in mind, the concept for Carapeace was born,” he said. “We wanted to develop an exciting and fashionable brand while actively encouraging conservation of sea turtles.”
To do so, they began by creating a design that could appeal to environmentalists and fashionistas alike. Having a high-quality product to launch was their hard-and-fast goal, and manufacturing took months because they were determined to find the perfect fit and material.
“We also spent time perfecting the image of the brand – that included the creation of the fashion-forward website, www.shopcarapeace.com,” Shalhub said.
“In order to make this happen we hired Camille von Simson, a Key Biscayne local, who was able to bring our company’s vision to life,” he added. “Camille took high quality photos that helped shape our website and social media platforms into having the best quality possible.”
Along with building their product and a means of selling it, the Carapeace founders worked hard to develop the philanthropic aspect of their business. The decided to donate 10 percent of yearly net profits to Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Florida, not only providing funding for the cause but also raising awareness about the plight of sea turtles.
Shalhub acknowledged it was a big undertaking for three people who are still in the midst of their college careers, but said they felt supported by college students all over the nation who they were able to connect with. “We have created a brand ambassador program on several campuses throughout the nation,” he said. “Nevertheless, all of us are full-time students and have to work on Carapace in between classes and over the weekends. We have also been able to incorporate what we learn in our business and design classes to better develop Carapeace.”
But they’re passionate about continuing to do so, and have lofty goals for the future.
Shalhub said they hope to introduce new products, including kids clothing and beachwear, and also want to host sea turtle-related events to raise awareness and promote their mission.
“As a new brand, born and made in South Florida, we have big plans to keep expanding. We hope we can convert the hearts of many all over the world,” Shalhub said. “Our brand is unique because not only is it fashionable, comfortable and benefits a great cause, but Carapeace allows anyone, anywhere, to have the Miami, laidback lifestyle.”