THE INTERVIEW: Zoe Lower The Mermaid Cave
We recently caught up with Zoe Lower, the super sparkling babe behind eco glitter brand, The Mermaid Cave. The Mermaid Cave produce glitter that is made from a biodegradable film, which is derived from sustainable and renewable raw materials such as rayon & glycerin (plant derived). It is certified marine & waste water compostable, and vegan friendly, meaning it is 100% safe for the environment, animals and our oceans!
Zoe talks us through the days of giving glitter makeovers to festival-goers out of her backpack, to now being an ambassador for helping to turn the tides on plastic. We chat everything from the damaging use of traditional plastic glitters, tips to live more green and plastic free, Mermaid Mobiles and of course, biodegradable glitter!
What inspired you to start The Mermaid Cave?
The Mermaid Cave is the lovechild of mine and my good friend Luca’s, after a few summers of spreading sparkles together in the fields of UK festivals. We are both very creative and crafty, always making ourselves costumes and accessories for our festival outfits, as well as painting faces independently for many years. In the Summer of 2015, a girl, whose face we had painted out of our backpacks, contacted us to do her company’s Summer party. That was the day that we decided to launch our own little glitter haven, and so The Mermaid Cave was born. Luca has since moved on to other holistic ventures of her own, and I now run the brand solo, with the support of my incredible team of mermaid artists, without whom I would never have achieved the success I have to date.
We love The Mermaid Cave glitter! How is it different to other glitters on the market?
I decided to make the switch to biodegradable glitter last March, around the stage that the brand’s whole sustainable ethos really took flight, and it’s the best decision I could have made. Since then, I have launched our 12 shade collection of glitters, each named after the most endangered species in our oceans, in hopes of shining a light on their struggle. I like to think that our glitter is some of the best on the market, as I put a lot of love into mixing our own blends by hand, combining various colours and grain sizes to ensure they are entirely unique and as chunky and irresistible as possible! Our distinguishing features vs other bio glitter brands would have to be our packaging and ocean conservation focus; our glitter is sold in plastic-free packaging of glass vials with cork stoppers, and we send 10% of all our profits to Oceans.Care, a charity working in Indonesia to educate local communities and help to clean up our oceans from plastic waste. For us, sustainability is at the core of our practice, and ultimately what I feel makes us special as a brand.
Has the beauty and glitter industry changed since you started out?
Massively! When I started my guerrilla glittering over 10 years ago, it was a relatively novel experience to be offering and definitely not something every second person had in their bum bag, as is the case today. Glitter has taken on a life of its own in recent years, and although this is wonderful to see people embracing their inner sparkle and shine, my heart can’t help but ache every time I see someone pull out a plastic pot of (micro)plastic glitter. There has been a surge towards eco-friendly glitter products of late, which is an amazing start, but there is still such a lack of understanding or education amongst the majority of festival-goers and general glitter users. For the most part it’s not about a lack of compassion, its often just not having the knowledge or information about the repercussions on the environment, so a big part of our makeovers is about providing this insight, whilst still spreading goddess mermaid vibes. It’s all about the ripple effect and passing on that valuable knowledge so that hopefully, in turn, our customers can spread the message too.
What's your career highlight so far?
We have had the pleasure of glittering at some incredible festivals and events over the last few years, both in the UK and internationally, for clients such as Google, Lululemon, Spotify and O2, to name a few. However I think the highlight so far has to be working with Pure Life Experiences in Morocco. Pure organise luxury travel trade shows across the world, and last year we travelled to Marrakesh to promote our eco products and glitter, which sits perfectly alongside their sustainable roots. Their events are plastic-free, providing every guest with metal water bottles and tote bags etc on arrival, and its a joy to work with companies who prove that consciousness is achievable on a larger scale, it just requires a little care and forward planning. They also send proceeds to a local charity supporting women, which is another lovely element to their business that connects us. We will be returning this September and love working with their amazing team.
What's in the pipeline for The Mermaid Cave?
The focus for this next season and year ahead is to bring our environmental efforts to the forefront of the brand’s identity. I will be launching the blog very soon, which will hopefully be an inspiring and informative platform; a place for me to document my discoveries and advice for anyone who is interested and wanting to start their journey towards plastic-free existence. I am also about to start a long awaited project of converting a 1970s caravan into our shimmying boutique - watch this space for the renovations of our Mermaid Mobile!
You spend your time between Bali and London, what draws you to each place?
I first visited Bali last March and it has since held a very special place in my heart. The conscious way of life in places like Ubud helps to keep me connected with like-minded soul family, and being embedded in such awe-inspiring natural beauty keeps me grounded and focused on my cause. I spend a lot of time in and around the ocean in places such as the Gili islands and Flores, where again, the community of ocean warriors protecting and fighting for the fragile future of our oceans is hugely inspiring. These trips help to fill me up with love and fuel the fire, ready for a busy festival season ahead.
London has been home for the last 5 or 6 years and beyond, and I will always return for the unbeatable festivals and other work events, but I now feel a calling to return, more importantly, to be an ambassador of what I’ve learnt, and step into this role of helping to turn the tides on plastic; it’s time to move into a new chapter of learning to live in better harmony with our beautiful planet.
What are your top tips for living more green and plastic free?
I call it the Mermaid 7 - seven tips to save our seven oceans! Not wanting to product push too much, but many of these alternatives are available on our store so head over and have a look for yourselves, for what we hope can be some beautiful plastic antidotes.
- Bag for Life - plastic bags; ditch them now! Pick yourself up a lightweight tote or two and carry them around with you always, so you never get caught out with last minute grocery shopping etc.
- Reusable Cutlery - I haven't touched plastic cutlery in over a year thanks to my palm cutlery and glass straw set, which lives in my bag and comes with me everywhere. Or at the very least, try your hardest to always request ‘no plastic straw please’ when ordering any drink. 5 million straws are consumed EVERY DAY in the US alone; whilst their use only lasts around 10 mins, their life span is forever.
- Soap Soap Soap - such an easy way to cut your plastic consumption begins in the bathroom. Say goodbye to shower gel and shampoo in plastic bottles, and switch out for soap shampoo and conditioner bars, and pretty paper wrapped body soaps. We recommend Lush for a huge selection in plastic free containers.
- Bottle Buddy - pick up a stainless steel refillable water bottle. Plastic bottles are rarely recycled and a colossal contribution to global waste, yet such an easy one to kick. Fill your water bottle on the move from the tap (if you’re able to) or drinking water barrel dispensers (available in most foreign countries). Most of these bottles are thermos so keep your water nice and cool for eight hours, an added bonus over plastic!
- Conscious Coffee - one that some people find a more tricky but with a little conscience this should be top of the list. There are tonnes of reusable coffee cups on the market for those who can’t live without your hit. Or if you forget it, always ask for a proper mug and drink in, if you have time. Nothing worse than seeing people using throwaway cups sat at a table!
- Biodegradable Beauty - let your glitter shine from the inside out and start looking out for Mama Earth. Beauty is about more than just the face, its about the soul and guilt-free glitter is good for the soul, trust us!
- Take 3 for the Sea - a charity we love, with such a simple message. If you’re at a beach or river, pick up three pieces of rubbish and take them with you. Chances are you’ll do a lot more - for us there’s nothing more rewarding than a good old beach clean and taking a few minutes out of the hustle to show up for nature.
Who are your fave green brands?
@goosethelabel - a hot-off-the-press slow fashion brand about to drop some gorgeous silk tencel pieces, ethically manufactured in Bali. Goddess attire in waiting!
@saltsandandsmoothies - your go to guide for all things sustainability and travel envy. This gorgeous girl cares deeply for the planet and we hope to one day have the audience impact that she so deservedly does.
@wolventhreads - sustainable sisterhood; sharing our love for kaleidoscopic prints, these lycra angels have found a way of manufacturing their active wear from recycled PET fabric, produced using discarded plastic water bottles. All hail!
@pureplanetclub - a bathroom brand to make you smile. These guys have made it their mission to tackle the plastic wrapped loo roll fiasco, and they’ve done so beautifully. If only they operated in the UK!
@bluemoloko - one of our first suppliers we found in Bali, who share our unwavering love for the environment, particularly the ocean. Handmade macramé bottle holders to keep your bottle buddy close by on the move, also available on our site.
@stidstonswimear - making sustainability sexy is one of our favourite things, and this beautiful brand has it nailed. A medley of luscious velvet pieces and recycled fabrics, custom made by hand in the UK. The decision to shop independent is a no brainer with talented ladies like Claire at play.
And Hunter + Boo of course! We know where we’ll be sending all our friends with lil ones to dress from now on :)
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