Meet the Makers II

From cozy clothes to candles and hand stitched goodies, we're taking you behind the scenes of our small business to meet the makers of your fave sharky brand!

We hope you'll enjoy as we dive into some fun questions we asked each other and are, yes- now typing them in 3rd person. Hey, consider it practice for the big times as well as a lighthearted way to get to know us as people and thus who we are as a brand.


Cari Johnson (she/her), Sphyrnas Founder

Q: What's your favorite shark and why?

Definitely Hammerhead sharks, but don't make me pick between them! They're the lovable 'weirdos' of the shark world and their abilities are so underrated! This shark species inspired our name and is a constant reminder of what has always been my favorite driving force to keep going.

I hope to see one in real life or ideally dive with them during a migration before I die - in the meantime there's so much work to do to save these disappearing sharks. That's another part of how this brand is trying to not only create gear that starts a more positive conversation around sharks but also gives people resources of where to learn more and actions to take that will lead to their protection for generations to come.

“…I think some of the reason I gravitated toward hammerhead sharks so early on was because I always felt like the “weird one”, the one that doesn’t quite fit in but is just as capable and just as vital to the world even though I may stand out from the rest.”

-Cari Johnson

Q: What's your shark zodiac sign? How'd you come up with the idea to make your own for Sphyrnas?

Born Jan. 23rd so that makes me a very proud Hammerhead Shark sign!

I've always been interested in various mythologies and reading about the various astrology/zodiac signs too, I thought there would for sure be 'shark zodiac' chart online so when I did a web search and found nothing I knew I had to change that!

It was so much fun making a Sphyrnas version of the zodiac and trying to line up what I knew of the well-known astrology signs and which of the more popular shark species match up with them. I am so excited that it's been such a big hit and has since inspired our monthly SharkScription of Shark Zodiac sets.

Q: What led you to create Sphyrnas? Why clothing?

Funny enough, it's really difficult to be involved with sharks or the ocean when you live in a landlocked state like Utah- in fact, the university I attended didn't have any sort of marine biology program!

My early plans were to move to California to pursue a marine biology degree but I was unable to financially make it happen despite already being accepted into an undergrad program. At the time I was working in corporate retail and began to feel that I could make more of an impact via my own business model- even though I had no idea what that would look like.

I was working more and more and admittedly my shark-filled dreams took a back seat as I moved up the corporate ladder. I hoped that my efforts would give me more leverage or connections that I could swing back into sharks later on but it didn't exactly play out like that.

I just got really drained and felt totally lost. I felt like everything I was doing wasn't going smoothly and I was getting stuck in this job that I had no interest in longterm; I felt I messed everything up for my future. Even still, I was doing more of this 'extra development' work outside of work-work, which when you're salaried you essentially can never say 'no'. I had no personal life really, I was attending school online in the small windows of time I had 'off' but never being truly 'off'.

I was burnt out and found it harder to overlook my need to get back to the things I enjoyed and reconnect with what made me happy; when I asked myself what that could be I always came back to sharks. Soon after, I decided to quit that job and figure out how I could combine my business ideas with saving sharks.

The concept for Sphyrnas came from [now wife] Chelsea who already had her own clothing line benefitting mental health (@Endure_life). The idea of creating a clothing brand at first seemed above me- I thought it was about runways and models, something that I knew nothing about. But as I thought on it I thought it was such an opportunity to merge art, activism, and a avenue to chip away at sharks' bad PR image.

In college, I took as many anthropology and humanities classes as they offered so I have a respect for the power of art and how it can drive societal change. Sphyrnas is so much more than just some tees- it's my way of combining sustainable and ethical processes with original art that spurs actual action.

Sphyrnas is about inspiring curiosity to learn more, it spurs action and starts conversations that are actively helping save sharks every time it's worn.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is looking to start a business of their own?

Do it!! I'm all for making the items or creating the things you want to see in the world. One of the things I love about having my own business is I can create new shark styles that are unlike anything else out there.

If more businesses 'make it' and more people are able to do what they love the world will be better for it.

People are led to believe that a business has to have a very structured model or be in a specific industry but it absolutely does not. You don't even need to craft something, you can literally turn any passion into a business you just need a little vision and the will to make it happen. People get paid to speak, to sing, to play, to organize, to write- the list goes on and on and with emerging tech new ideas are always possible!

Don't get me wrong, it's not always roses and sunshine but when you're working hard for something that you're really passionate about you never feel like you're working. Plus, your accomplishments are so much more rewarding - at least for me.

I've learned there's many pitfalls out there but if you're able to overcome and stay dedicated to believing in yourself when others won't then you have what it takes. Remembering there's help out there too, we are always open to helping other small businesses or anyone that has questions. If someone out there needs help with branding or other questions feel free to reach out and send us a message.

Q: How's working with your wife?

HA! We're like each others on-call volunteers, we just fill-in where the other one needs, if I have a concept then she can do her graphic design magic and turn it into something that translates into physical item.

It's unique because the level of deep understanding since we both have our own businesses to run. It's nice to have a model, a spelling/grammar checker [although not full proo, HA!], someone to laugh with over trying to navigate social media, or to cry with, bounce new ideas off of or just be there to help support and remind me to step back when I need to take a break.

Q: What's your favorite design or product in the Sphrynas collection?

I love them all but I'm diggin' our SHARKFLUENCER tees right now! They are simple but sorta sassy and it's all about championing shark conservation efforts.

This design was created as part of our Shark Blog project to tell the story of actual #SHARKFLUENCERS around the globe working to save these amazing animals, using whatever they have to do it - maybe graphic art, science and field work, photography, videography, etc.

This design is a branch off our signature logo and was made to have an 'autograph' vibe to celebrate anyone using their unique gifts to change the world.

Q: What aspect do you like most of making clothes for this brand?

I love creating new styles people want to wear every day that are actually helping the very creatures and environments they represent. We're able to offer sustainable and ethical tees that are on trend and making shark-love stylish!

I am especially excited about the direction we're heading in with our latest designs.

We just launched a collection of new tee options- pieces like cropped tops and a sleek drop tail tee that have a low-key sharky feel but still a conversation-starter without being this bright cartoony 'shark attack' graphic painted on the front.

With all the negative views on sharks we are making them more mainstream, more approachable, more 'cool' and something deserving of respect rather than blind fear.

I love drawing up concepts to make the clothes I always wanted but could never find, or never knew who was behind the scenes in making what was available.

Q: What's a favorite moment or proudest accomplishment for you and Sphyrnas?

I am stoked that something I spent time creating is half way around the world!

It's beyond cool to know someone is out on a Caribbean shark research boat in one of my tees, or exploring a Norwegian fjord in something I made; Even flying a drone in Switzerland or drinking out of a reusable water bottle in the Australian outback with some Sphyrnas stickers on it. Being able to experience people from across our planet get excited about my vision, this brand, is everything to me!

In creating Sphyrnas I wasn't anticipating the joy I get out of having found a great community, it really has become a 'Hammer Crew' family. When we connect with people from all around the world who share this shark/ocean passion, it makes all the hard work worth it, and leads to new understanding that sparks real change.


Chelsea Stout (she/her), Founder @Endure_life

Q: What's your favorite shark and why?

My favorite shark is the Wobbegong shark- they’re cute and have really cool camouflage that gives them the ability to hide in plain sight amongst the reef rocks. No one ever talks about them!

They’re like a hidden gem in the ocean, you always hear about Great Whites but what about Wobbies?!

Q: Have you always liked sharks?

I have to give Cari all the credit for anything I know about the ocean and sharks.

Growing up, I knew what sharks were, obviously. But being raised in a landlocked state means you never learn a lot about our oceans and miss the critical importance of them (hopefully we can change that).

Learning everything the ocean has to offer and what sharks do to maintain the health of our oceans is incredible.

Q: What's your shark zodia sign? What lessons do you think you could ‘learn’ from your sign?

My birthday is Aug. 30th so that makes me a Wobbegong Shark sign- and I feel like it's pretty spot on.I'm often found doing a lot of stuff for a lot of other people, and I have a lot of random talents & hobbies that I like to use to help with Sphyrnas & my own business, Endure Life.

I think I could learn from the Wobbegong to let things happen or come to me rather than trying to fix everything all the time. They rely on their natural abilities and instincts as they await the perfect opportunity to strike - I could use a bit more of that patience, ha!

Q: What advice would you give someone who is looking to start a business of their own?

If you’re passionate about something, DO IT. Never let anyone discourage you from it. We all have the ability to make a difference and people will tell you that it’s impossible until it’s done.

"Turn off the outside noise and never forget why you started. You got this."

Q: What's a favorite moment or proudest accomplishment for you and Endure?

Honestly, my proudest accomplishment for myself and Endure is that I haven’t given up. Many times I’ve felt like this path I’m on is so emotionally taxing and sometimes seems flat out impossible. But then I remember that I’m not doing this just for myself- if I can help just one person not give up, that’s enough for me.

So, to anyone that I have encouraged to keep going and push past those dark moments, thank you. You keep me going.

Q: How's working with your wife?

It’s literally a dream. I love spending every moment with her. Whether we’re working or exploring, every moment is an adventure and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We are both so dedicated to making the world a bit brighter and it’s nice to have someone by my side that understands that.

Q: What's your favorite design or product in the Sphrynas collection?

The conserve crest tees are my favorite. It’s a more simple design, but it's straight to the point and has the ability to start conversations that otherwise might be tough to talk about.

'Clothing with a cause', clothing with the ability to start up conversations. That’s what it's all about!


Have more questions or want to learn more? Head to our ABOUT US page or feel free to drop us a message on instagram - @sphyrnas

Thanks for being apart of our shark fam- we can't do it without you!