Sophomore Sydney Bell has been selected as an honoree of the Long Island Business News (LIBN) “30 Under 30” Award. The award honors bright and dynamic young professionals under the age of 30 who contribute to the Long Island community through public service and who have made significant strides in business.
As the owner and operator of Tidal Tees Apparel, an online store that sells eco-friendly apparel to help save the oceans, Bell takes her passion, perseverance and purpose to be a role model for other young entrepreneurs. Designing, launching and running a new business while attending Stony Brook as a Marine Vertebrate Biology major was an easier transition than she thought. “Networking, meeting new people and flourishing in an educational environment has helped me to find inspiration for new partnerships as well as take on leadership roles on campus such as the Founder and President of the Marine Science Club and Undergraduate Fellow/Teaching Assistant for the University Scholars program,” she said.
After completing her first year at Stony Brook, Bell became the inaugural recipient of the 2019 Student Life Award – The Bergman Family Foundation Award in Memory of Roberta Richin for student initiatives for social good. The award annually recognizes a student or group of students at Stony Brook University who have increased tolerance, promoted intercultural dialogue or improved quality of life through social entrepreneurship. Bell also received the UNiDAYS Award for Most Likely to be an Entrepreneur — a national scholarship that rewards a student who is not afraid to get dirty and follow their dreams.
During Summer 2019, Sydney spent three weeks conducting research in the Cayman Islands on the ideal benthic habitat for staghorn coral outplants in the Caribbean and the effect of these outplants on reef fish biodiversity. This opportunity was an internship with the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, a research organization on Little Cayman Island focused on restoring coral reefs through their coral nurseries and raising awareness on the issues facing our oceans. While there, Bell developed a partnership with the institute to design new apparel to raise awareness and fund various projects for coral reef restoration.
Before she left for the Cayman Islands, her summer adventures began at a local chalk festival in her hometown of Perry, NY. Bell and her father, who both have amazing artistic abilities, sketched a giant baby sea turtle under the phrase “1 in 10,000” to represent the approximate number of sea turtle hatchlings that make it to adulthood. At the festival, they included a write-up explaining the various threats to turtles: poaching, bycatch, plastic, and climate change. This was Bell’s eighth year participating in this competition, and this year she won two awards, the Third Place People’s Choice and the Judge’s Merit Award for best use of the theme, small. “It goes to show how you can combine any of your passions and skills to make a positive impact on the world,” stated Bell.
Back on Long Island, Bell is working with the New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead to design apparel that highlights their work in rescuing stranded marine mammals and sea turtles and rehabilitating them to be released back into the wild.
Throughout the academic year, Bell is always sketching designs for her new apparel items, which she rolls out on the online store during summer and winter break periods. The business has grown exponentially over the past year and so has awareness for ocean conservation. Tidal Tees now has 150 ambassadors in 29 states and 17 countries and has almost doubled its apparel sales, raising even more money for groups such as The Bimini Sharklab, The Black Fish, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, The Cousteau Society, Sea Shepherd, The Ocean Cleanup, The Manta Trust, Coastal Steward Long Island, and Coral Restoration Foundation. The newest addition to Tidal Tees has been an Eco Blog which shares with customers tips on how they can live a more sustainable life and various reviews on eco-friendly products. The latest product review included a bamboo toothbrush that is now available for sale on Bell’s online store; each purchase results in five trees being planted in Madagascar.
As a spirited entrepreneur, Bell has the desire and purpose to do something distinct, needed and meaningful by combining her love of art and her passion for ocean conservation to shed light on the issues facing our ocean and its organisms. “My biggest lesson learned being an entrepreneur is, you can’t do everything at once! Follow the things you are passionate about wholeheartedly and that passion and drive will radiate to others and show through in the final product,” Bell explained.
Bell will receive her award from LIBN at a gala dinner celebration on September 12 at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, NY.
Tidal Tees apparel is back in stock at Shop Red West in the Melville Library featuring customer favorites such as the Hammerhead Shark “Save Our Seas” tee made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles and the Humpback Whale tee. Find more merchandise online at tidalteesapparel.com.