Coral reefs are a priceless ecosystem that support a quarter of all ocean life and protect our coastlines. Join me in inspiring climate action with my coral reef collection for the Glowing Gone campaign by The Ocean Agency.
Wear Your Support with Apparel
This collection took 2 years to create and combines my passion for climate advocacy and my body paint experience in a vibrant staghorn coral-inspired design. My hope is that the eye-catching design helps spur conversation about climate change; Conversation can prompt action and from action comes hope. Read more about the process in this blog post.
The fabric for this apparel is made from recycled bottles and is printed with non-toxic inks. The paper products and shipping materials are also sustainable, printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. To ensure reduced carbon emissions, the products manufactured in the U.S and I offset the carbon from every order’s shipping. 10% of profits from my collection are donated to The Ocean Agency’s efforts in protecting reefs.
If leggings, bras, hairbands, or scrunchies aren’t your thing or you’re trying to have less stuff in your life, you can still support the collection with a digital download phone wallpaper or some stickers.
Protect Our Oceans with Reef-Friendly Sunscreen
World Reef Day was started by Raw Elements USA sunscreen. It’s a certified-natural, reef safe, environmentally kind sunscreen company developed by Brian Guadagno, a 25+ year Ocean Rescue Lifeguard.
Raw Elements also happens to be the sunscreen I’ve been using daily for the past few years! They offer packaging in metal tins or bio-resin tubes. I like saving the metal tins and use them to store jewelry when I travel. Here are the products I use:
The Glowing Glowing Gone campaign was developed by The Ocean Agency during the filming of the Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral. Coral reefs are on the frontline of climate change and in a desperate bid to protect themselves from ocean heatwaves, some corals glow in fluorescent purple, yellow, and blue colors.
Working with Pantone and Adobe, The Ocean Agency turned these warning colors into the Glowing campaign colors and invited all artists to use them to inspire action.
Breanna teamed up with the Glowing campaign and combined her passion for climate advocacy with her body paint experience to create a vibrant staghorn coral-inspired design for apparel. Her hope is that the eye-catching design helps spur conversation about climate change; Conversation can prompt action and from action comes hope.
Watch the clip from Chasing Coral that inspired the Glowing campaign:
Breanna started her Glowing project in the fall of 2019. She stumbled upon the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign on Instagram, and was immediately intrigued. The vibrant Pantone colors combined with climate action messaging was the framework she didn’t know she needed. It was the spark that connected the dots between her graphic design, body painting, and climate advocacy work.
As a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Breanna regularly heard talks from climate scientist, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. Dr. Hayhoe’s recurring theme is that one of the best things we can do about climate change is talk about it. She regularly asks her audience, “how can we take action on climate if we don’t even talk about it?” Talking about the things we care about helps us find common ground and realize that others care about it too. Talking is the first step to taking action.
“The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it.”
– Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientist
From Breanna’s years of experience as a body painter, she saw that vibrant colors and designs can easily prompt conversations with the audience or viewer. So her initial vision for a Glowing Gone project was to do an underwater photoshoot of a coral reef body paint design using the campaign’s colors. She knew those photos would be unique, but she wanted this to be more than a one-time body paint piece–and so developed the apparel collection.
Designing the Collection
Breanna is known for using her graphic design experience to design leggings that mimic her colorful body paint work. She illustrates the designs on her iPad Pro, then uses online 3D mockup generators and test prints to get the design placement perfected. Sustainability, especially with apparel, was also really important to her. Through endless research and phone calls, she found Yoganastix in Scottsdale, AZ who could do a limited run of the design using fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.
After her first phone call with the co-owner, Brett Matheson, Breanna knew she had found the right eco-minded partner for this project. In order to use use specialized fabric and manufacture in the U.S., Breanna had to deviate from her usual print-on-demand model and order the apparel upfront. In February 2020, Breanna took the plunge and ordered 100 pairs of leggings and 100 bras. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020.
As the world went on lockdown, Yoganastix quickly switched to making face masks to keep their employees on staff. Breanna put her apparel order on pause while the reality of the pandemic started to play out. With the apparel on hold, Breanna started creating some other pieces for the project. She wanted to offer other ways for people to support her art if leggings and bras weren’t their thing. She developed stickers, greeting cards, and pre-stamped postcards using her coral reef design.
Breanna also participated in two virtual body paint events during 2020 and 2021 where she used the Glowing colors to paint climate change-inspired designs. In December 2020, she painted for FIBOPA, the International Bodypainting Festival in Argentina. The event theme focused on the climate, agriculture, and real estate development factors that have contributed to intense forest fires in South America in 2020. Her piece about caraya monkeys banding together as a group to survive revealed the parallels in her own climate advocacy where ‘the power of the individual is in the group.’
In January 2021, for the Color Voice Expo hosted by Bodypaint America, Breanna created a piece about her pollinator garden, Monarch butterflies, and finding hope through action. The phrase ‘From action comes hope’ was her takeaway from listening to an episode of the Our Warm Regards podcast about climate data, despair, and how to find hope.
By February 2021, Breanna was ready to re-start the apparel manufacturing. But by this point, many worldwide supply chain issues were starting to manifest. Yoganastix was facing many delays getting bulk fabric orders, so the coral reef apparel continued to be on hold until the fabric was available.
The Apparel Arrives
Finally in August 2021, Breanna received samples of all of the apparel sizes while she was visiting family in Maine. She still had plans to do a big underwater body paint photoshoot once back in Dallas, however she also wanted to show that you can wear your climate activism wherever you are. The clothing is intended to be a way to bring climate action to everyday activities. Breanna put out a call to friends in Maine for someone to wear the apparel on the beach. Her network connected her to Danielle Dellaquila, a nutritionist and yoga enthusiast in Scarborough, Maine. Danielle was a natural at modeling and they were able to capture some photos right before a storm came rolling in.
When Breanna returned to Dallas, the giant box of the rest of the apparel arrived. 100 pairs of leggings, 100 bras, scrunchies and hairbands!
Preparing for the Underwater Photoshoot
In the fall of 2021, Breanna was eager to proceed with her final vision of doing an underwater photoshoot in a pool with a body painted model wearing the apparel. Unfortunately various scheduling conflicts caused this shoot to be delayed. Then she was presented with an opportunity to travel to Hawaii in November. It was a perfect chance to take photos in the very ocean that the Glowing campaign is working to protect. Since she did not want to use body paints in the ocean, Breanna split the concept into two shoots; an underwater photoshoot and a separate body painting photoshoot on land.
Shortly before the trip to Hawaii, Breanna seized the chance to take an underwater portrait photography workshop with Brett Stanley, an expert in the craft of underwater photos. She wanted to learn how to be a better director for underwater photoshoots and understand best practices for models. Little did she know, she would undergo a trial-by-fire with those skills in Hawaii.
The Trip to Maui
In November 2021, Breanna traveled to Hawaii with her friend and body paint colleague, Anja Yamaji. A few days into the trip, they ran into unexpected cancellations with the underwater photographer and model that were lined up for the photoshoot.
Determined not to leave Hawaii without some underwater photos, Breanna and Anja decided to do the shoot themselves. Using a specialized diving phone case — Breanna had brought it simply for behind-the-scenes photos and video — she used her iPhone to take the underwater photos. Anja is an experienced model, but she had never done it underwater. With the notes and tips from the workshop, Breanna coached Anja through the process and together they were able to create some underwater magic.
Not only was Anja the underwater model, but she was also the model for the body paint photoshoot. Breanna painted Anja over the course of a day and they made a mad dash to the beach for photos in the setting sun. The end result from both these photoshoots were the unique and striking photos to share her project with the world.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
– Anne-Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef
Breanna strives to make this project as eco-friendly as is feasible for her budget. As an independent artist, it becomes very costly to make every aspect of your work 100% sustainable. She recognizes that the apparel fabric could be even more sustainable if it was made from plant-based fibers instead of recycled plastic bottles. However those plant fabrics are currently cost-prohibitive to a small venture like this. Breanna’s hope is that in the future, eco-minded materials, products, and manufacturing will be the norm, not the (more expensive) exception.
Some of the eco-friendly aspects of the collection include:
Fabric for leggings, bras, hairbands, and scrunchies is made from recycled plastic bottles and printed with non-toxic inks.
Apparel is manufactured in the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions from travel.
Paper products printed on 100% recycled paper with soy-based inks.
T-shirts made from 60% organic cotton, 40% recycled polyester.
T-shirts printed on-demand to reduce waste.
Shipping materials are biodegradable and printed with algae ink (Exception: T-shirts ship from a separate manufacturer in mailer bags made from recycled plastic).
Breanna Cooke partnered with EcoEnclose to use sustainable packaging and shipping materials, with a focus on biodegradable options whenever possible. Here’s how to reuse or recycle your packaging. *Items that are printed on-demand ship separately in recycled plastic mailers.
What Can You Do?
You can support Breanna’s art and climate advocacy by ordering pieces from the collection or sharing her work. 10% of profits from this collection are donated to The Ocean Agency to support their work protecting the world’s oceans. Breanna’s collection includes the apparel, scrunchies, hairbands, cards, and stickers, but also digital phone wallpaper for download. The digital downloads are perfect for anyone who is trying to downsize but also wants to support the project. Currently the apparel is a limited run, however Breanna is open to doing a second print run if there is enough interest.