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North East start-up harnesses the healing powers of the sea

12th May 2023

Inspired by her seaside hometown Whitely Bay, Northumbria University graduate entrepreneur launches a range of marine-based skincare products, utilising sea extracts to improve the skin and boost self-confidence.

Marketing Management graduate, Annabelle Hill has transformed brand concept Sea The Love, from a student assignment into a fully fledged business, with help from Northumbria’s Student and Graduate Enterprise team.

Having struggled with problematic skin as a teenager, Annabelle was no stranger to skincare products but was disappointed to find they were often made with harsh chemicals and were damaging to the environment.

One particularly nice Summer, during which she spent a lot of time in the sea, she started noticing changes in her complexion. Her skin looked healthier and more radiant. This was the inspiration for a school assignment, which led to Annabelle drawing up a business plan for a skincare range, formulated with natural and clean ingredients.

After completing her degree, she reconsidered her sixth-form project and, supported by industry professionals at Northumbria, Annabelle developed and launched Sea The Love.

Caption:Seaweed Super Serum by Sea The Love

Sea The Love uses sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients including organic marine minerals and magnesium from the ocean. Each product in the range - which consists of a night cream, gel cleanser, serum and soon to launch day cream - is infused with marine plants such as seaweed and kelp, as well as clinical actives such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.

Importantly, these natural ingredients are known to have amazing benefits for the skin, without the use of sulphates, parabens or silicones – which are unnatural products, often found in skincare products.

Sea The Love works to brighten, plump and hydrate the skin, however it was also important to Annabelle to build a community of people who encourage each other to feel confident in their own skin and empower them/others to show off their natural beauty.

Caption:Annabelle Hill, Northumbria University graduate and founder of Sea The Love

“Sea The Love was initially a set of products to help people like myself, who seek to improve their complexion and generally take better care of their skin. But it has grown so much since that first assignment”, Annabelle said.

“It’s hard to ignore the influence social media has on self-image. It was important to me that this was at the forefront of my brand, as improving your skin is only half of the solution. You have to love your natural self and be comfortable with your own reflection. Hence, Sea The Love.”

The company mission is to save your skin, the sea and your sanity. It has committed to making a charitable donation with every purchase, supporting The Marine Conservation Society. And, recognising the amount of plastic waste which ends up in our oceans each year, the packaging has been designed to be recyclable and environmentally friendly, using glass jars for all the products.

Annabelle, who graduated in 2021, was recommended by a fellow alumnus to speak with the University regarding support when launching her business. After a few conversations, Annabelle was accepted on to the Northumbria Enterprise and Business Support 2 (NEBS) scheme.

“I really hit the ground running once I returned to university to get help with my business,” she said. “I was surrounded by fantastic entrepreneurs, who were really starting to make a name for themselves and that gave me the hunger to get the job done. The support I have received so far has been incredible - I only wish I had met with the enterprise team sooner.”

Lee Longstaff, Enterprise Advisor at Northumbria University said: “Annabelle is a regular user of our Incubator, where she has benefitted from a combination of 1-2-1 mentoring, workshops and peer-to-peer support. It’s great to see Annabelle’s business idea become a reality. We love the ‘Sea the Love’ brand and we hope many more people do too”.

NEBS2 provided a package of services to enhance the competitiveness and growth of SMEs and supported the creation of new graduate enterprises. This scheme has now concluded, however further support for student and graduate enterprises can be found at www.northumbria.ac.uk/sge


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