Today, let's meet Miao Wang. She founded the sustainable swimwear company In Sharks We trust to dedicate her life to shark conservation, one bikini at a time.
Hello Miao, can you tell us more about you and your why? How did you find your purpose, how does it drive you?
I was born in Beijing and spent almost all of my adult life in the US working in advertising and marketing for big corporates. I have a Bachelors in Design from Yale, Masters in Business from UCLA Anderson, PhD in Life from Diving. I started scuba diving since 2012 and quickly got obsessed with sharks – for equal terror and ecstasy on every encounter. From South East Asia to South America to Africa, I traveled around the world to see them – until I didn’t see them. That hurt me so, but also led me to understand the consequences in nature of everything we do on this planet, and what’s so important to me that I couldn’t bear not to do something about it. That was back in 2015, when the passion pivoted into a mission – and I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to the conservation of sharks.
How did you turn your why into impact? Can you tell us more about In Shark We Trust and its missions?
您是如何将您的为什么化为影响？您可以跟我们分享更多In Shark We Trust的信息和使命吗？
Saving the world is too vague to act on so I needed a medium that’s tangible and everyday. I opted for swimwear because it’s the closest to the sea – the most intimate layer that separates your skin and the body of water making up 2/3 of the planet! Meanwhile I wanna juxtapose the idea of something dangerous aka sharks to something sexy, and defend our misunderstood, endangered apex predator in way of beauty. Conservation can be sexy too.
In Sharks We Trust sets out to do two things: One, it’s a creative venture to bring shark conservation to mainstream/popular culture through grassroot initiatives and innovative brand partnerships. Two, a philosophical undertaking to inspire the marketplace especially youth with the "purpose" narrative.
拯救世界的行动太过模糊，所以我需要一种有形及日常的媒介。我选择游泳衣，因为那是最接近海洋的－它是最亲近的那一层！将你的肌肤和构成地球三分之二的水体分开。同时，我想要把一些鲨鱼是危险的的想法与性感并置，并以美学的方式来捍卫被我们误解、濒临灭绝的顶级掠食者。 In Sharks We Trust着手两件事：第一，藉由草根倡议和与创新品牌合作，将鲨鱼保护带到主流/流行文化是个创造性的冒险。第二，一个哲学承诺，以叙述故事「目的」来激励市场，特别是青年。
What is really unique about your designs and materials?
All women's suits are reversible and the prints feature the dotted patterns of real whale sharks around the world – the best way to get over your fear for sharks – is to wear one!
Because Fashion is one of the most wasteful industries closest to our everyday life I wanna use my product as the platform to not only tell the ocean story but promote circular fashion as well: Our high-tech fabric is regenerated from reclaimed fishnets and pre/post consumer products and infinitely recyclable. From manufacturing (digital printing) to packaging we make every effort to eliminate toxins and pollution while minimizing use of plastic.
所有女性泳装都是可逆的，而且图样的特色是世界各地真正鲸鲨的点缀图样 - 克服对鲨鱼恐惧的最好方法，就是穿上它！因为时尚是最浪费的产业之一，也和我们日常生活最接近。我要用我的产品作为一个平台，不只是诉说海洋的故事，更也是提倡循环时尚。我们的高科技织品是源自于再生渔网，而且消费前后物质是无限可回收。从制造（数位印刷）到包装，我们致力于消除毒素和污染，并且减少使用塑料。
In shark We trust is also partnering with local communities to protect sharks populations. Can you give us one example of these partnerships and how it is concretely acting to preserve sharks?
In shark We trust也和地方共同体合作，来保护鲨鱼种群。您可以举一个这些合作中的例子吗？以及保护鲨鱼的具体行动。
Chef/Humanitarian Jose Andres said something at a TED talk that really stuck with me: "Charity is the redemption of the giver, not the liberation of the receiver." So it’s one of ISWT's core belief that the preservation of the environment starts with the empowerment of its people – by allowing them to find solutions to their own problems.
In the debut collection we've partnered with Maldives Whale Shark Research Program (MWSRP) – a conservation research and community-driven charity based in South Ari Atoll, funding their paid conservation internships for local Maldivian youth. In the internship they conduct whale shark research and community initiatives, paving the paths to a career in marine science or social entrepreneurship.
Last month our inaugural intern Humaam Nadid, an extremely bright 19 year old that stood out from 40+ candidates, just embarked on his journey with MWSRP. We’re so incredibly proud.
厨师/人道主义者Jose Andres在TED谈话说的ㄧ些话，我真的很感激。“慈善是给予者的救赎，而不是接收者的解放。” （慈善是给予者的救赎，不是接收者的解放。）所以，ISWT的核心理念之一就是保护环境始于赋予人民权力 - 让他们能够为自己问题找的解决方式。
在首次亮相时，我们与马尔代夫鲸鲨研究计划（MWSRP）合作 - 一个保护研究和社群。位于South Ari Atoll（南阿里环礁）的慈善机构为马尔代夫当地青年提供有薪的实习经费。在实习中，他们进行鲸鲨研究和社区活动，为他们在海洋科学或社会企业家的事业铺路。
What is your message to people who perceive sharks as threats to humans?
To start off, sharks don't eat humans! Of all the scary stuff we see in the news, attacks are an absolute rarity but we hear about it anyway because media likes to promote stories/fear that people want to hear (humanity by nature wants to have a monster in our lives that we can fight against). But in the rare event that sharks do bite people, it’s either because they’re curious to find out what we are, or they feel threatened and acted out of self defense. If you look at the stats though, more people die from a popped champagne cork than shark attacks.
How communicating about protecting sharks is a good start to talk about Sustainability? How is shark conservation linked to the Global Ecosystem and its conservation?
Sharks is the apex predator of the ocean which takes up 2/3 of the Earth surface, the biggest carbon sink that generates more than half of the oxygen we breathe. It's not hard to connect the dots and grasp sharks' importance in the overall ecosystem. On the other hand, every major threat sharks face link to a greater issue: shark finning – the corrupted fin trade, bycatch – overfishing, loss of habitat – global warming and pollution. So communicating about shark conservation is both solving a problem in itself and an (interesting) entry point to the topic of sustainability at large.
鲨鱼是占了三分之二地球表面的海洋中的顶尖掠食者，是最大的碳汇，产出一半以上我们所呼吸的氧气。要将其串连并抓住鲨鱼在整个生态系统中的重要性并不难另一方面来说，鲨鱼面临的主要威胁将会是更大的问题：鲨鱼鳍 - 腐败的鱼鳍交易，误捕 - 过度捕捞，失去栖息地 - 全球暖化和污染。所以，藉由鲨鱼保护的沟通，既解决了其本身问题，也更是可持续发展议题的一个（有趣）切入点。
Have you experienced any big change in the way In Shark We trust has grown?
In Shark We trust发长的方式中，您是否面临到任何重大的改变？
Yes (sure enough that wasn’t planned at all haha). ISWT started as a product company that stands for shark conservation globally. Soon we found it was too wide to reach people at depth. Then we decided to focus on China (with the belief that where mistakes were made, change can happen too) and truly establish our brand and network. As my story and the story of ISWT get told once and again, it became the narrative of understanding purpose, propelling people we crossed path with to find their own calling in life. That is something.
That’s where the second part of our mission unfolded: From shark conservation to people enlightenment. Technological revolutions to counterbalance growth and feed the insatiable market demand in the next 20 years – only solves half of the problem. We want to inspire change in the demand side. Rather than preaching conservation and sustainability we want to help people understand our place on this planet, what’s important in life, what really makes us happy. Only then comes conservation as a choice one can make because they want to be part of something meaningful.
那就是我们第二段使命展开的时候：从鲨鱼保护到启蒙人们科技革命将在未来20年内抵消增长并满足无法满足的市场需求 - 这只有解决一半的问题我们要激励需求方改变。我们希望帮助人们了解我们在这个星球上的位置，生活中重要的东西，以及真正让我们快乐的东西，而非宣扬保护和可持续性。只有这样才会让保护成为一种选择，因为他们希望成为有意义的事物的一部分。
What have been the main challenges for In Sharks We Trust and as an entrepreneur since the beginning of this journey?
这趟旅程从开始以来，在Sharks We Trust和身为一位企业家的主要挑战是什么？
Biggest challenge is probably work-life balance. Since I've been working on the start up on the side of my full time job, for a long time between work, eat and sleep, ISWT was everything I did. I thought my full time job was my "work" and ISWT was my "life" and there I had it, my work-life balance. It turned out to be extremely hard because I didn't have time to see friends, family, work out, and do all the other things I wanted to do. These became trade off's I had to make and I felt guilty when I did... Then I went through a super stressful time with my full time job with less time to work on ISWT. Then came more guilt, more stress, the vicious cycle. Until I reached a point of burnout so decided to take a break and take my mind off everything — I took time to see friends, make new ones, talk about ISWT, get back to fitness, travel, the process of which fed me incredible energy, a fresher mind, new ideas and valuable connections. I came to better realize what all the things that fulfills me in life (other than sharks) and what I value in people, as well as a partner. Starting a purposeful business is not just about self actualization, but also self awareness. The whole experience with ISWT has made me a better, stronger person.
在工作，吃饭和睡觉之间很长一段时间，ISWT就是我所做的一切我想，我的全职工作就是我的“工作”，而ISWT就是我的“生活”这就是我有的。：我的工作生活平衡。而这实际上很艰难，因为我没有时间与家人和朋友见面，健身以及所有我想要做的事。这些成为了我要做出的让步，而当我这么做时，我感到内疚⋯接着我在我的全职工作上经历了一段压力时期，没有时间在ISWT上工作。然后变得更内疚，更有压力的恶性循环。直到我达到一个倦怠的点，决定放松，把一切思绪放在一旁我利用时间和朋友见面，交新朋友，分享ISWT，继续健身，旅游 - 一个让我感到拥有难以置信能量的过程：。更清晰的思路，新想法和宝贵的关系我了解到是什么东西让使我对生活感到满足（除了鲨鱼），还有我对人们的价值观，以及伙伴。创立一个有目的性的生意，不仅仅是自我实现，更是自我意识。与ISWT的整个过程中，已经让我成为一个更好，更强大的人。
The other challenge is team. At the founding stage you need to do absolutely anything and everything. I started off solo, part time. So it was very challenging to set up a team that can work on a similar capacity or delegate work to others because all the knowledge has sit only with me. Now as the company grew, we’re deriving clearer work streams to engage the right individuals that want to champion the same cause.
What are your next steps, big plans for In Shark We Trust?
您的下一步是什么？对In Shark We Trust有什么重大计画吗？
Second collection coming in 2 months! ISWT 2.0 will feature new colors, designs and prints of new whale sharks from Philippines, Indonesia and Tanzania! Also bolder designs with more of a feminine touch.
In the long run everything we do around the swimwear is to build equity around the pattern – the iconic whale shark print that stands for all shark conservation, and spread the message thru more consumer touch points via partnerships with mainstream consumer products.
We are cooking up an event series with the goal to connect shark and ocean conservation to our daily lives – not ready to reveal the details but it’s something that hasn’t been done and will be very exciting.
What we can do as individual to help the cause of sharks?
When it comes to what we can do as individuals - find the choices we can make in our daily lives
Starting with what we eat! Huge number of sharks die from overfishing and bycatches. The industry w/ the most bycatch ratio? Prawns. For each pound of prawns caught 20 pounds of other seafood stock from fish to sharks to turtles die and go into waste. So think twice when you order the next shrimp dish. Sharks are also losing their habitat to global warming. The cow industry is the 3rd biggest contributor to global carbon emissions so cut down beef (and meat in general) in your diet.
To reduce pollution to the ocean, cut out single use everything in our lives; Vote with your dollars and buy ecofriendly products from fashion to sunscreen to laundry detergent that all have an imprint in the environment.
Travel. “Traveling is the antidote to ignorance.” Says Trevor Noash. Go see and experience the ocean yourself, whether it be snorkeling or diving or surfing. See all the magic that’s in store and how small we are within and next to it. Only when you know something then you can love and cherish something.
旅行。 Trevor Noash说“Traveling is the antidote to ignorance.”(旅行是无知的解毒剂)。去亲身体验一下海洋，无论是浮潜还是潜水或是冲浪。去看看所有存在的魔力，还要我们是如此的渺小。只有当你了解时，你才会爱和珍惜。
Who has been or is a great source of inspiration in your journey that people should be keen to know about?
Rob Stewart, a Canadian director behind the most influential shark documentary Sharkwater (2006), who spent a lifetime making films about and campaigning for sharks, and who died in a dive accident while shooting Sharkwater's sequel. Then every NGO, individuals who know him were accrediting Rob, as the filmmaker, shark conservationist, marine biologist, explorer, etc. And that's the moment that hit me: I wonder if I die today, what will I be remembered for? A marketer? Nah. Everything I did after, starting ISWT and so forth, was to build MY narrative and MY legacy that I can be proud of when I leave this world.
Rob Stewart，他是一部最具影响力的鲨鱼纪录片Sharkwater (2006)的加拿大导演。他花了一辈子的时间制作有关鲨鱼的电影和为鲨鱼办活动，然而在拍摄Sharkwater续集中在潜水意外丧生。之后，各个非政府组织、认识他的人都认可Rob为电影制作人、鲨鱼保护主义者，海洋生物学家，探险家等等。而就是那一刻点醒了我：我在想，如果我今天去世，我会因为什么被记得？一个营销人员？绝不。我之后所做的每件事，从ISWT开始等等，都是为了建立我的故事和我的传奇，让我离开这个世界时，我可以为此感到骄傲。
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