student holds up a t shirt

Lowther Creates T-Shirt Brand

Michael Lowther, full-time lifeguard at local beaches such as Salt Creek, Strands and Three Arch Bay to name a few, has launched his shirt brand PUKA, which falls in line with his interests.

According to Michael, the goal of PUKA is twofold: firstly, “to raise awareness of the vast oceans that stretch across the diverse coastlines of our beautiful country” and secondly, to “educate people about the dangers and consequences of single use plastics through local beach clean ups.”

While Michael has always planned to make a shirt business, he actually stumbled across the PUKA shirt design while doing his AP Literature T-shirt project when he “made the design by accident and actually really liked it.” Such precipitated into the brand PUKA.

The PUKA shirts feature an American flag, but Michael insists that while he is political himself, he “doesn’t intend for the brand to be political.” In fact, Michael hopes that PUKA can unite a largely polarized America: PUKA is “about ocean conservancy; we as Americans, no matter what side, can all agree on that one topic, ocean conservancy, and that’s all the American flag, being on the shirt, represents and should represent.”
Teaming up with Dana Point’s local facilities, “10% from each shirt will go to the Ocean Institute so they can continue their research and rescue marine animals.” Michael has a long history with the Ocean Institute having grown up “going on field trips all of the time,” so this is his “way of giving back to them.”

Thinking ahead for building up the PUKA brand, Michael shares that the Ocean Institute does “a good job of reaching out to the community so hopefully through working with them, we can grow the brand PUKA to do the same through beach clean ups and fundraisers.”

Currently, Michael has ordered 120 shirts which as of Oct. 9 “are available and ready for purchase” and has 20 buyers lined up for the time being. For those interested, Michael is taking names, marking sizes and spreading the word without advertising.

Paralleling PUKA’s environmental focus, Michael explains that “all of the shirts are very high quality” from “eco-friendly, USA Strong, manufactures.” For that reason, Michael is charging $30 per shirt to offset the expenses of eco-friendly materials. In addition to the t-shirts, Michael has a dri-fit hat design that should go into production shortly, although the exact date has yet to be announced.

Facilitated by PUKA’s collaboration with the Ocean Institute, Michael aims to establish well-implemented environmental habits in our community. And, by way of PUKA merchandise functioning as a periodic reminder to preserve and respect our oceans, Dana Point will get on board with saving our oceans just as Michael has envisioned: Americans standing tall and working together to make a change.

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