How did you come up with Cipactli, who is Cipactli and how do you pronounce it?

A big source of motivation for this company came as a result of a lot of reading. One day we were on one of our frequent long car drives listening to the audio book, The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey. Casey was talking about how ancient cultures had the ultimate respect for marine life and sharks in particular. She said that some ancient cultures believed the Earth was a shark, and its name was Cipactli. Cipactli was a living, breathing creature and it gave us all life. Therefore, they took care of Cipactli and treated the land with respect. They did not take more than they needed for it was not theirs to take, and Cipactli would continue to provide. The name of our company represents the beautiful connection between man and nature. Now, more than ever, this connection is disappearing. Our logo represents the gills of Cipactli, and it is a reminder to remember where we came from.

Pronounced: “sih - pact - lee”

How is plastic pollution threatening our oceans? What does this mean to us as divers?

Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences that make up about 40 percent of the world's ocean surfaces. Plastic will outweigh fish by 2050 if immediate precautions are not taken. Plastic takes hundreds if not thousands of years to break down and disrupts our ecosystem in detrimental ways. Marine life everywhere is washing up on shore filled with nothing but post-consumer waste and plastics. The worst part is when plastic begins to break down, it turns to microplastic which is consumed by smaller organisms. When these small organisms are consumed by predators, like dolphins and whales, the microplastics are consumed as well. The average dolphin is considered hazardous waste due to insurmountable amounts of toxins that circulate their blood due to human waste. Often, marine mammals unintentionally poison and kill their offspring due to the toxins in their milk. As a diver and a conservationist, this is heartbreaking. Especially because a divers greatest joy in life comes from the beautiful interactions with marine life. After researching the effects of plastic pollution and dedicating our life to battle it, we were deeply saddened to have seen it in some of the most remote places in the world. We saw countless plastic bottles and garbage floating by our boat in the middle of the red sea. The red sea is protected and to see garbage there was very eye opening. The ocean is no place for your garbage. It is sacred.

What does sustainable mean to us?

Sustainable is tough to describe because we are well beyond any possible way of living a completely sustainable life. Pesticides, plastics, human contributed greenhouse gases and many more toxins and harmful environmental threats can only be battled by individuals minimizing their contributions. Even if the entire population lived as sustainably as possible, we still run into issues due to an unsustainable population in of itself. Therefore, sustainability to us is the act of minimizing all possible harmful environmental factors as much as possible from shopping habits to eating habits and more. That way, we can help slow down the unavoidable collapse of our ecosystem that will happen at some point in the future.

How will we help restore our planet and minimize our impact?

To restore our planet is to restore the connection between man and nature. To respect the land which brought us all life. To replenish the ecosystems in which we have destroyed. To protect land/oceans from harmful practices such as overfishing, deforestation and more. We hope to reverse the effects of climate change as much as possible while we still have a chance. We will use business to inspire change in our over consuming culture, to seek visceral experience rather than more unnecessary goods. In order to restore the planet, we need a movement in our culture to value and appreciate the natural world the way it deserves to be appreciated. All businesses should always consider the environment in which it obtains its resources over any other consideration. We hope that one day business that do not consider the environment will be obsolete and unsupported by the majority.  

What does it mean to function as an Ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with non living components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. When we say that we function as an ecosystem, we are saying that we do not place any individual component (ie. money) over any other important function of our deeply involved system which strives to help the ocean through business. We also want our system to serve as an abiotic component that is connected to but in conjunction with the ecosystem of the ocean.

How does photography help in conservation? How we will support those in photography?

Many great conservationists and idols of ours believe the most important tool in protecting the environment is the camera. Without it, there is no way to connect an audience that would never otherwise seek to explore the underwater world themselves. An overwhelming majority of people would much rather appreciate the ocean and its magnificence from afar, studying it through cinema and photography. Driving our company with photography will allow us to connect a diverse audience that can appreciate exactly what we see and therefore develop motivation to protect it themselves. It is crucial we capture the emotions and individualism of each species to provide the most powerful message possible, one that touches the heart of our audience.

How will you involve manufacturing into your vision of sustainability?

The manufacturing process is the most important part of our company. Every product we sell will be carefully and intentionally manufactured with the environment in mind. Our goal is to manufacture all our products from post-consumer materials, plastics, rubbers, and waste. Quality in manufacturing is as utmost importance as well. We will only continue business with manufacturers who produce quality items, to our standard. We want our customers to have our products for years without signs of deterioration. We want our customers to purchase one of our items for every three they would elsewhere. We all have our “go to” clothes in our closet. The ones that seem to not lose quality for a very long time. We want to be that company, but better.

What is freediving? With so many issues in the world, why freediving? What does it mean to be a freediver?

Freediving, to us, is a beautiful expression of art, a feeling of pure tranquility, and mindfulness. We are born of the ocean. It is a gateway to explore our home in the sea, to live amongst the the planet’s most fascinating creatures and coexist with them in their purest form, their natural habitat. To freedive is to fly, as we both did in our dreams as children. On a freedive, there are certain biological functions that kick into gear. As you hold your breath and dive down to the bottom of the ocean floor, the mammalian dive reflex is triggered. Your heart rate slows, your blood vessels narrow, your body prepares you for life in the water. This is where we want to spend our days. Freediving is the source of inspiration for all that we plan to do to protect the sacred space we love and value so very much. In a world with so many issues, we can only focus on helping one thing at a time. As freedivers, we are constantly bombarded with human related destruction of the ocean. We have committed to dedicate our lives to protect the ocean from harm, so we can dive in harmony. To be a freediver is to share a unique appreciation for the planet’s most powerful force, the ocean.

Where does your love for the Ocean originate?

We both had early experiences in our lives that had a profound effect on our psychological development and longing for the ocean. Co-founder Tanner Mansell’s early childhood experiences freediving for abalone with his dad off the coast of Fort Bragg, California sparked his curiosity for exploring the ocean as early as the age of 7. He still remembers the accomplishment of holding his breath long enough to pluck his first ever abalone. Co-founder Janelle Van Ruiten was lucky enough to experience the coral reef and marine life off the coast of Mexico with her dad on a scuba trip at the age of 11. Although she was not allowed to get certified, her dad taught her in a pool so he could take her. Some more significant factors including the release of the movie Free Willy which was an obsession of Janelle’s as a kid. Her love for Orca and helping the ocean started right then and there. She spent most of her childhood dreaming of Orca, and wanting nothing else but to spend her life with them. Tanner found his true passion in underwater photography and believes it is the one thing he could be truly happy doing every day for the rest of his life. Nothing else has ever felt quite the same. Janelle went on to study marine biology in Hawaii and it was there that she spent every waking day in the ocean freediving with like-minded conservationists and ocean enthusiasts. This is where the idea of Cipactli came to be.

How do you plan to inspire using your brand?

Our goal is to inspire you to get out in nature through our own profound passion for the environment, and the ocean. We hope to inspire you to protect the natural beauty that exists around us. However, our inspiration goes well beyond this. We hope to serve as a source of inspiration to people who are looking to embark on a life journey to follow their passion, to follow their heart and soul. We want to inspire you to do good in this world while you are here. At the end of each and every day we want to inspire you to question your purpose, find your mission and follow your dreams. We hope to serve as an example that anything can be done when you are intentional, when you live with purpose and take massive action. Every single person who has ever made a change in this world found their passion and then acted on it. They called to the stars, and with every breath, every waking moment, with many nights pondering amidst the chaos of their wandering mind of what the world could be like, they drove home a change that not only fulfilled their hearts but changed the world as a result.

Why is Passion important?

Passion gives our life purpose. The more we care about something, the deeper the hurt but also the deeper the reward. We are both extremely passionate people in our own ways. We both share the kind of passion that has the ability to steal away our sleep at night, keep us up pondering ideas and ways we can fulfill our hearts in this life. Passion is part of the process. Its through our passion we have founded Cipactli and gave it purpose. Our passion has lead us to work on a project much, much bigger than ourselves. Our passion has lead us on a journey to risk everything we have to do what we love each and every single day. We are giving up corporate jobs, massive stability and great pay on the pursuit of true happiness, to do what we are passionate about. Passion is what continues to ignite the fire and courage to continue, even when we feel down. Passion, compassion, combined with massive action is the recipe we are working with, and we are very confident that when these things work together in harmony we are unstoppable.

How does compassion play a role in conservation? Is this the driving motivation to protect the ocean?

Compassion is the driving force in our life. Compassion has lead us on a journey to become as selfless as possible. Without compassion, you cannot have happiness. Research proves that the fine line between what separates human from the rest of the world is becoming very blurry, in fact there is not much there at all that separates us. The cerebral cortex, more specifically the temporal lobe of many mammals including whales and dolphins is much more developed and evolved than humans, which means they have much stronger abilities to process emotion. This is why a mother Orca will push around her dead infant calf for weeks, morning its loss, unable to move on. We believe it is very important to practice compassion, and cultivate happiness as a result. Our compassion for wildlife has lead us on this journey to help the ocean. A great quote for compassion follows: “For me the Kingdom of God is where mindfulness exists, and it is a kingdom where there is compassion. The Kingdom of God, the Pure Land, is not a place where there is no suffering. Many people aspire to go to a place where pain and suffering do not exist, a place where there is only happiness. This is a rather dangerous idea, for compassion is not possible without pain and suffering. It is only when we enter into contact with suffering that understanding compassion can be born. Without suffering, we do not have the opportunity to cultivate compassion and understanding; and without understanding, there can be no true love. So we should not imagine a place where there is no suffering, where there is only happiness. That would be a very naive idea. Suffering is organic. It is from garbage that we produce flowers; and similarity, it is from suffering that we produce understanding and compassion. I would not want to live in a place where there is no suffering, because in such a place I would not be able to cultivate understanding and compassion, which are the basis of happiness. Happiness is a function of compassion. If you do not have compassion in your heart, you do not have happiness.” — World renowned Zen monk, peace activist, and poet Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King JR.