Sydney Bell, a sophomore marine vertebrate biology major at Stony Brook University (SBU), was recognized by Long Island Business News “30 Under 30” list for her non-profit company, Tidal Tees Apparel.
The Faculty Student Association (FSA) nominated Bell for the award last spring after she started working closely with them to bring Tidal Tees to shops on campus. On Sept. 12, Bell accepted the award at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, New York alongside prominent young professionals on Long Island who have made significant strides in business or public service.
“I forgot that I was even nominated so it was pretty shocking when I found out I actually got the award,” Bell said. She is the youngest businesswoman in five years to be featured on the list.
Bell deemed it was imperative to act on the dangers threatening oceanic species and habitats today. She established Tidal Tees, which donates 100% of its profits to ocean conservation, when she was just a senior in high school.
In addition, she launched a successful online store that sells a variety of apparel such as hats, sweatpants, swimwear and stickers. Shop Red West is the only brick-and-mortar store to sell her products. The selection in the store is limited to two items, including a T-shirt made completely from recycled water bottles priced at $22.
Angela Agnello, director of marketing and communications at FSA, nominated Bell and said she was not surprised to see her win. “I have always been impressed with her since the moment I met her so I reached out to her and we got to talking about how we can bring Tidal Tees into our retail locations on campus,” Agnello said.
All clothing items are printed with water-based ink, and all packaging and labels are both recyclable and biodegradable. The factory that Bell utilizes is powered by solar energy to minimize its carbon footprint.
“I think it’s a really good cause and they have been selling well in this store. So far students are really liking them,” Kris Newsom, the general merchandise manager at Shop Red West, said. She is working to restock Tidal Tees Apparel in stores for the next few weeks and add more items to the selection.
Tidal Tees Apparel sold out only a week after it was launched in Shop Red West on March 28. It was restocked at the beginning of this fall semester but is almost out of stock again.
“I think that protecting endangered species needs to be a priority with the state of our planet right now,” Carmela Czara Lopez, a sophomore biochemistry major who purchased a Tidal Tees shirt in Shop Red West on campus, said. “When I saw the t-shirt made completely from recycled water bottles in the school store I had to get it. It’s such a good cause and I wanted to show my support to a fellow science student and female entrepreneur.”
Even as Bell combined her artistic ability with a cause she is passionate about to create a successful company, she also found time to be a full-time student and act as president of the Marine Science Club. This year, she also started working in the Padilla Lab on campus to research the effects of ocean acidification on mussels.
“There are so many things happening right now, and I know that when I get my degree in marine biology I will be able to do research to help with conservation of endangered species, but I wanted to start something right now,” said Bell.
So far, 100% of profits have gone to organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup, The Coral Restoration Foundation, The Orca Conservancy, The Manta Trust and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, among others. Bell also has a collection of products aimed to collect proceeds for Coastal Steward Long Island, a non-profit dedicated to preserving Long Island’s marine environment.