"SEAze" These Sprouts!
Since the beginning of the year, I've been experimenting with a primarily plant-based diet and I am loving the results! Not only do I have more energy, but I have also discovered foods that otherwise might have never made it onto my radar--or my plate! My latest find, Sea Sprouts, was introduced to me by a friend who knows that the only thing I love more than good food is a good backstory behind the company.
Sea Sprouts was started by a 25-year-old Gatlin Beemus, a Virginia Beach native who lives aboard a 26-foot sailboat in Bellingham, Washington. This former graphic designer combined her love of cooking healthy meals with her commitment to sustainable living, and her background in marketing to grow her srpouts--and her brand. Everything from the packaging to the presentation is thoughtfully designed for convenience. There's even a tiny wooden star designed to prop the jar up for drainage. It took about four-five days to grow my "Submarine Sammie" blend and the results were delicious! Check out this Q&A with Gatlin and then head over to seasprouts.com and try a blend for yourself. Bonus: if you have your own "little sprouts" this is a fun and easy activity to do as a family.
Where did you get the idea for Sea Sprouts? When my partner Brandon and I got a tiny cabin witha big yard during our second year of living in WA, I wanted nothing more than to live off the land and create a beautiful garden. At that time I was working full-time as a Digital Marketing Manager at a historic music venue in town and our weekends were booked with backpack trips. Gardening fell by the wayside. Brandon's brother then introduced us to sprouting and we picked up some seeds from our local co-op. We loved being able to grow our own food in under a week but we got tired of the same old seeds. We rediscvoered our love of sprouting the following year when we bought a 26-foot sailboat, fixed it up, and started living on it. With only a small cooler to store our produce, things like spinach and lettuce either wouldn't fit or would go bad too quickly so we had to get creative. We began buying several different types of seeds to make our own blends. After a lot of trials and errors, we came up with our first three varieties: Wok'N Delicious, Submarine Sammie, and Universal Concoction. I've always wanted to own my own business and I saw the value in this concept for those people who lead busy lives, or who live in alternative housing like we do. I have a background in graphic design, web design, and marketing so I started to play around with some concepts and branding in my spare time. Slowly but surely, Sea Sprouts was born!
Is this your first entrepreneurial venture? Were you inspired by anyone?
Prior to Sea Sprouts, I had done some freelance graphic design and videography for a variety of clients but I had never ventured into the world of e-commerce. I had two bad a** boss women who inspired me to actually go forward with it. One was a friend back in VA who opened her own business roasting and selling coffee. She and her partner put everything into their businesses, Color Wheel Coffee Roasters, and it made me feel like my own dream of owning a business could beome a reality. The second was my former boss. She mentored me through my role at the Theatre and I admired her own life story of travel and starting businesses in a variety of fields. She was a huge inspiration to me.
Tell me about living and running a business from a sailboat.
When we bought the sailboat, we actually had no intention of living on it. It was a huge project (and still is) but we love projects and learning. When the pandemic came and both of our jobs were either lost or cut, we looked at finances and decided it would be a bit much to pay both rent and a moorage fee. We had always wanted to "live tiny" so we made the jump and moved on the boat full time! I wrote my first business plan in the dead of a Washington winter with 40-knot gusts and the boat keeping at a steady heel! I do all of my digital work here and I rented an office down the street to house the seeds, products, packaging, etc. It's been quite the adventure!!
How did you learn about sprouts and the way that they grow?
I first learned about them from my partner's brother. You can sprout almost any type of seed but they all need a different type of lovin'. This is where the trial and error came in with blending the seeds. The soak times, grow times, and methods of growing have to remain consistent between each seed in a blend or you will have some that grow at different rates or not at all. We started by growing all of the sprouts we were interested in testing individually and took notes on how they grew in different temperatures, with different soak times, and in a jar and a bag.
Sprouting seeds are also different from regular seeds you would buy for your garden. It is highly recommended that you purchase sprouting seeds from a safe vendor that tests seeds for pathogens. In order to germinate, sprouting seeds need a warm and moist environment. These conditions can breed bacteria such as salmonella and e-coli. Your chance of getting a foodborne illness from sprouting seeds yourself versus buying already grown sprouts in a store is very low because you control how clean your sprouting vessel is and the water you use to rinse.
Sea Sprouts only sells seeds that have been lab-tested for e-coli and salmonella and come with an official certificate of analysis. The seeds are then taste-tested by us then packaged to be sent to you!
Have you always been into nutrition and healthy living? If not, how and when did your journey to this lifestyle begin?
I began to actively pursue nutrition and healthy living in college. There, I had an amazing group of girlfriends and we all worked out together, hitting the gym or going for runs on the beach. My partner Brandon was studying Environmental Science in school and I soon became enthralled by the state of the dairy and meat industry. I became vegan for both health and sustainability reasons. This is where my love of cooking creative and healthy meals came from. Going from eggs for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch, and some chicken and veggies for dinner to no more meat or dairy forced me to become a better cook and experiment with ingredients I had never even heard of before.
I am no longer vegan, but pescatarian (the local salmon and oysters here are incredible) with small amounts of dairy. When purchasing dairy or fish, I try my best to only purchase the local or more sustainable option--or avoid the purchase if it is neither of those things.
Can anyone grow your sprouts? Is it difficult?
Yes! All you have to do is soak the seeds in your bag or jar overnight, drain them the next morning, and rinse twice a day (I do it at the same time I brush my teeth to keep it an easy routine). Our jars are made to fit in car cup holders and our sprouting bags can go literally anywhere, so if you are heading out for a weekend road trip or backpacking the PCT you can bring your sprouts along!
What advice would you give another young person who has an idea or a dream that they want to pursue?
Just do it! I have fully pursued Sea Sprouts with the understanding that even if I monetarily fail, it would not be a failure because what I have learned along the way is invaluable.