Maris Pearl Co.
Founder, Stephanie Maris Hicks
I first met Stephanie at Art + Flea - a local pop up event in Honolulu - in August 2021 and I immediately knew that she was someone I wanted to know. When thinking about sustainable businesses and how owners are making an impact in their own ways, Maris Pearl Co. did something unique from their very first sale. A percentage of every SALE is donated. I wanted to get to know Maris Pearl Co. and what type of work their partner nonprofit, Aegean Rebreath, does. And when I tell you that you will fall in love with Maris Pearl Co., I am not lying.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how Maris Pearl Co. came to be.
Maris started centuries ago. It is my maiden name and it means “of the sea” in latin. My family is from the Greek Islands back and back for generations, so when it came to naming the brand, it was an easy fit because of the history of the name and what it stands for. We have this family tradition of giving back to the island where we all came from. I always knew that I wanted to do something in the ocean conservation space because I was inspired by it. But I didn’t know what that pathway would look like for me.
I got my undergraduate degree in journalism and then went back to school for my masters in global marketing. Through my academic and professional experience, I learned that storytelling was something I was skilled at. I was going to be a storyteller, a marketer, a branding expert. That is how I decided I was going to give back; by creating a beautiful brand that told a story, inspired other people, to raise awareness and funds for ocean conservation.
When did you start your company?
Maris Pearl Co. officially launched in Honolulu January 2019. The inspiration came from a trip I took in Greece in my late teen years where I found a baroque pearl for the first time. Baroque pearls are these beautiful, natural, ‘shaped by water’ pearls that are not perfectly white and not perfectly round. After I got my master’s degree, I lived in Hong Kong for some time - where the pearl culture is huge! But, it was difficult finding baroque pearls. There is just something truly magical with these pearls that I want to share.
Tell us about Aegean Rebreath and what type of work you do with the non-profit.
There was an article circulated around members of my family that was published in the Montreal Gazette 2017. The article shared how off the island of Andros there was so much plastic pollution. Which is interesting because from the surface and the millions of pictures of Greece, you picture this beautiful country with crystal blue water, but in reality, its ecosystem was suffering. My family was discussing how someone should do something to support their efforts and I thought, ‘I will!’ Before I launched Maris Pearl Co., I reached out to Aegean Rebreath. I told them (in a nutshell), that ‘I have this really amazing concept of selling pearl jewelry and I would love to support your cause. Please take me seriously.’ And they did. So from the very first sale, Maris Pearl Co. donated 5%. At first, it was pennies and now we’re making a real contribution. Aegean Rebreath is helping the mediterranean sea breathe again; from clean up dives, to educating the community, to being involved on a Greek Policy level. What our donation goes to is sponsoring oxygen equipment for the divers, a van for the divers to get around, and funding the dives themselves.
How have your customers responded to your efforts?
People come to us for the quality and aesthetic of our pieces. We are pearl experts. I received my certification as a licensed pearl specialist. So when our customers find out what we do with Aegean Rebreath, that’s where they become loyal to our mission and continue to support us.
What is one thing about your company that you wish more people knew about?
At our core, we are an ocean conservation brand that uses pearls as a medium to give back to the community of Greece. There is this misconception that our company is bigger than it is because of the polished look of our marketing (thank you global marketing degree). We are a small, female-run team. So ask that our customers are patient with us as we grow to work to spread awareness.
After my conversation with Stephanie, all I wanted to do was support her and her company in any way that I can. From now until the end of the month, use code MARIS10 at checkout for 10% off your Sea Seven order. It’s a little way for us here at Sea Seven to see what you - our amazing supporters - resonated with and let us know in the comments what you want to see more of! Learn more about Stephanie and Maris Pearl Co., by visiting marispearlco.com.