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FIN-K BEYOND COLLECTION – and why the protection of sharks matters

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

When starting the brand Atelier Blyss, one of our first ideas was to create collections around a theme or issue that we consider important sharing and raising awareness about. This is exactly what happened when creating our second collection “FIN-K BEYOND”.

We recently learned about shark finning which is the act of removing fins from sharks and discarding the rest of the body back into the ocean. The sharks are often still alive and, when thrown back into the water, unable to swim anymore, sinks to the bottom and dies.

Shark fins are sought after because of their high monetary value: they are used to prepare shark fin soups, a traditional and exclusive asian dish, and can be sold for approximately US $ 400 per kg. Some specific fins such as the ones from whale sharks or the basking sharks are considered even more precious and can attain the sale price of $10,000 to $20,000 for a fin.

Illegal in some countries and irregulated, shark finning has caused catastrophic harm to the marine ecosystem and is responsible for the death of 70 to 100 millions sharks every year, threatening the survival of multiple shark species worldwide.

These learnings left us speechless. As ocean and surf lovers, the marine ecosystem lies close to our hearts and we felt the need to learn more about sharks, and, if possible, find a way to help counter this problem. We decided to dive deep into the topic to absorb as much knowledge as possible, find an organization active in their protection and design a collection that would not only honor sharks but also financially contribute to their preservation. The FIN-K BEYOND collection was born…or almost! 😉

  • Step 1 - Understand the importance of sharks

  • Step 2 - Find an organization active in shark protection that we want to financially support

  • Step 3 - Design and create a collection

  • Step 4 - One, two, three…launch!

Step 1 - Understand the importance of sharks

Sharks are not always represented positively in today’s media. Portrayed as killing monsters in blockbuster movies like “Jaws” or “the Meg”, the news tends to cover on an international scale when shark accidents happen. This created “bad” image is negatively affecting their survival: if an animal is seen as “bad”, “dangerous” or a “threat to humanity”, there are less chances that people feel for them and want to preserve them.

However, in the relationship between humans and sharks, it’s the former who are often predatory. To give you some numbers, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed per year which equals to an estimated 6.4% to 7.9% of all shark species in the world are killed each year. This figure, converted into hours, amounts to 11,416 sharks killed worldwide every hour.

In comparison, sharks are responsible for an average of 10 fatalities per year worldwide.

100 millions versus 10.

As Alexander Godknecht, chairman of the Swiss Shark Foundation explains: "It is important to inform people that sharks are not waiting in the ocean to eat people. Humans are not part of the sharks' food spectrum at all. They have been existing for 450 million years. In comparison, humans are relatively new, and them being in the water is even newer. Sharks do not know humans and even when sharks bite humans to test if it is something edible, they usually spit them out again. This is obviously a terrible accident for the person involved as it can cause massive injuries or even death, but sharks do not eat people. If you make this clear or try to explain that there are only 16 fatal shark accidents a year, worldwide, out of billions of bathing events, if you make it clear to them that the probability of even just seeing a shark at all is extremely small, then you can perhaps put the fear into perspective.

What we are doing with our Foundation is informing people, highlighting the beauty of sharks and not their pseudo-dangerousness, as the media conveys, as well as highlighting their importance for the ecosystem of the oceans, because they have a very, very important regulatory function and trying to dampen this fear, because humans don't protect anything they are afraid of."

The importance of sharks goes beyond what we may initially think.

The ocean plays a crucial role in our environment; it is through the biodiversity of the ocean that we get fresh air into our atmosphere, rainfall and eventually food all around the world. Our existence and the existence of any creatures around the world depends on the balance of this vast system. Each and every creature living underwater therefore directly contributes to that ecosystem, playing an integral part in keeping us alive.

Sharks are no exception.

As the Save our Seas Foundation states: "Alongside other predators, sharks play important roles in helping to maintain the delicately balanced ecosystems that keep our oceans healthy. Their feeding can affect prey population numbers, but also prey distribution as they select a habitat to avoid being eaten. For example, the presence of tiger sharks has been shown to prevent green turtles from overgrazing seagrass beds, making healthy populations of sharks and turtles critical to the structure and function of seagrass ecosystems, including their role as carbon sinks. Large predators like sharks are even effective carbon sinks themselves, so more large fish in our oceans could reduce the carbon dioxide being released into our atmosphere. Through their migrations and diving behaviour, sharks also help cycle nutrients between different locations and the depths and shallow. The ripple effects of an ocean without predators could be far-reaching and devastating for marine life and life on land."

Protecting sharks are therefore also a way of protecting our own existence, and all creature’s existence.

Step 2 - Find an organization active in shark protection that we want to financially support

We spent many hours researching an organization that aligned with our goal and were happy to discover the Shark Foundation, a Swiss non-profit active in shark’s protection since 1997. We had the chance to meet with Alexander Godknecht, chairman of the foundation, in Zürich. He explained their goals, projects, ways of working and passionately shared with us details about sharks, the multiple reasons they are endangered and where his interest in those animals came from. From all their on-going projects, the one fighting for the defense of whale sharks particularly spoke to us. These peaceful and beautiful giants are facing extinction and the project is lacking funding. We therefore decided to focus on this species to develop the collection and to donate 10% from our profit to the long-term, global whale shark protection project of the Foundation.

It was a fascinating talk that brought multiple insights and convinced us even more of the importance of the upcoming collection.

Step 3 - Design and create a collection

To develop the new collection, we first needed a name or guiding thought. We knew we wanted to integrate the word “fin”since it is such a widespread trademark for sharks. We also hoped, through the collection and the content, to inform and raise awareness about sharks and the importance of their protection. That’s how the name FIN-K BEYOND was born: a play of words that combines the expression "think beyond" and the word "fin".

Romaine also came with the idea to use the two "waves" representing the "S" in our logo and add a fin. This way, we are showing our commitment as a brand to support sharks through this collection.

Based on your feedback and our discussions on Instagram (using this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of you for always providing feedbacks and replying on our stories 💙), we started designing the pieces, went back and forth with our suppliers, tested the samples, got a few mental breakdowns, drank looots of chai latte, maté or coffee, continued working, continued solving problems, thinking creatively and positively, and eventually, produced the final line that is now available 😊!

Step 4 - One, two, three… launch!

With the final products in hand, we traveled to South Portugal to prepare everything for the launch and work on the future of the brand. It was 10 productive and packed days beautifully spent creating content, finalizing details, writing product description, designing and translating the website, editing images and videos, brainstorming on future ideas, and meeting with (potential) partners.

On Sunday, 13.11.2022 we finally launched the collection! Besides being available on our online shop we also offered products in the Christmas shop from Altitude 1502 in Marly, Switzerland.

The orders got in so quickly that we couldn’t believe it; we felt so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude when hearing all your warm feedback and kind words and seeing you sharing and purchasing the collection.

We truly can’t express how grateful we are for your support all throughout this journey, this simply means the world!



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