Twin brothers with one mission, change the world one mangrove at a time! Rooted in Florida, Keith and Kyle have planted 142 acres of mangroves worldwide, created 11.1 million dollars in ecosystem services, and simultaneously educated thousands on the importance of Mangroves. All funded through the sale of high-quality apparel and gear designed around protecting and restoring our coastlines. Tune in using the link in our bio or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.
Brothers Keith and Kyle Rossin are quite the outstanding pair. Growing up in Florida they spent most of their time outdoors, taking advantage of the woods, national parks, and waters that surrounded their home. Kyle tells of how he enjoyed year-round fishing with his brother where they grew up on the coastlines. When he began college at Florida Gulf Coast University, his world expanded from coastal fishing to fishing shallow inland waters. With these new waters came new species to target and a whole new environment to explore, all centered around the mangrove trees. While out fishing these inland waters, Kyle and his friends talked about how cool it would be to create clothing with a mangrove camo pattern on it. Continuous talk and brainstorming between the friends led to Mang, a mangrove inspired apparel company who uses Kyle and Keith’s creativity, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the ecosystem to improve mangrove swamps in Florida and around the world.
When the Rossin brothers were in college, they both pursued degrees in the environmental field, Kyle studying environmental studies and Keith pursuing a degree in horticulture. They began to notice a theme in their studies. The environment, the thing they loved dearly, was in trouble, and sitting in class learning about the issues was not sufficient for them.
“[A]ll my studies were… pretty much like ‘the environments on the decline, the environments on the decline’ and…what are we going to do? [H]ow do people begin to make a difference?”
During their time on the west coast of the state, they realized just how important mangrove trees are to the environment they inhabit. Mangrove trees not only provide valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife species, they actively improve the quality of the water they are surrounded by. Water quality in a marine based ecosystem is the driver for the overall health of the area, an invaluable asset.
Once Kyle, Keith, and their friends started expanding their original idea to create clothing with a mangrove camo pattern, the wheels in Kyle’s mind began turning. The group put a simple logo on a trucker hat and presented it to a fishing group from his hometown who liked the design and helped the brothers brainstorm. Kyle and Keith sprang into action, taking their knowledge of natural systems and coming up with a business model that resulted in more environmental profit than monetary profit, just the way they liked it.
“Keith and I, we were two individuals who were driven, who didn't need to get paid anything…we had a mission… and we didn't want to go work for the man.”
Like any small business, Mang started locally with only a few products and the small group of friends as the entire company. In what Kyle describes as a “crawl, walk, run” process, Mang grew and grew into an entire community of interested people itching to improve their environment. Mang is now a large company who sells artistically designed apparel and uses the profits to fund mangrove tree planting projects around the globe. The work of Mang has reached many areas of Florida all the way to The Bahamas and Madagascar with grand plans to continue expanding. Kyle explains that to him, in addition to witnessing the ecological improvements of planting mangrove trees, the best part of his work is connecting communities and educating the people he comes in contact with.
Education for the Masses
Bringing communities together for a cause is Kyle’s favorite part of Mang. Mang hosts mangrove tree planting events and educational events centered around mangrove ecosystems. Kyle continuously learns about the ecosystem so that he can spread the knowledge to those who come to help. For someone as passionate about learning this is the formula for a very fulfilling profession.
In addition to education, the people who are involved with Mang’s planting projects get the chance to connect with their community in new ways. In the case of the Bahamas, Kyle explains, community members who help plant mangrove trees come together to physically plant the trees and leave with new friends and the knowledge of their ecosystem. Kyle describes the parts of Mang that mean the most to him, saying:
“The opportunity just to be there, to associate with the community, to tell people about the project, to see people light up about mangrove restoration, to work with cool people and partnerships to develop this very full-scale community.”
Even in Florida, the effects of the mangrove restoration projects are visible and long lasting. The team plants 2-3 year old trees instead of only seeds, so when volunteers are done for the day they can look back at their work and see green.
The members of the Mang team are excited about the work they have been doing for the past 6 years and even more excited about the work that is ahead of them. Kyle energetically talks about future plans of getting captains involved with teaching about the ecosystem they boat through, additional planting events, and adding even more locations to their outreach. Eager listeners can find apparel, information about events, and pictures of Mang’s efforts on the website www.manggear.com. Each article of clothing and each donation goes to a fantastic global organization.