Restoring the Mangroves: The Journey of Two Brothers Making an Environmental Impact
by Nick Hammond on Oct 23, 2023
This is the inspirational story of two brothers, Keith and Kyle, who grew up exploring the mangrove forests of South Florida. As they became young men, they hatched an ambitious plan to start a company that would support mangrove restoration through apparel sales. Driven by their lifelong love of fishing and connection to Florida's ecosystems, they persevered through early struggles to build a burgeoning nursery supplying mangroves to restoration groups across the region. This is the tale of how their passion project grew roots and flourished into an environmental force for good.
Humble Beginnings Marked by Persistence
The seeds of the idea were planted years ago, as Keith and Kyle lounged on their dock after a day of fishing, gazing at the mangroves and dreaming up company names and missions focused on protecting the forests they had played in since childhood. After letting the thought percolate for years, in 2015 they finally decided to take the plunge. Committing themselves fully, they incorporated "Mangrove" and launched an innovative "Buy One, Plant One" model where they pledged to plant one mangrove for every product sold. They had minimal resources and business experience, but were fueled by their vision of building an apparel brand that could make a real difference for Florida's ecosystems.
Starting out, the path was marked by struggle. Keith and Kyle knew little about successfully cultivating mangroves or executing restoration projects. Their early efforts involved growing fledgling mangroves in their mom's backyard and attempting small-scale plantings, many of which failed due to lack of experience on their part and challenging environmental conditions. However, the setbacks only strengthened their tenacity. They learned from each failure - figuring out how to raise hardier mangrove saplings, gathering data on optimal planting techniques, and gaining knowledge on how to successfully restore mangrove forests. Keith and Kyle saw beyond the early stumbles and pushed forward with resolve, kept afloat by their unwavering mission.
Gaining Trust By Showing Up
In the beginning, the local environmental organizations were skeptical that these two unknown young men with bold dreams could become a valuable partner. However, Keith and Kyle persisted. They continued to pitch ideas, provide updates on their nursery progress, and offer whatever mangrove resources they could muster. Their break came when Palm Beach County invited them to participate in a restoration event at Bryant Park. This first opportunity allowed Mangrove to gain visibility within the restoration community and learn best practices by seeing the experts in action. Although their initial contribution was small - just over a dozen fledgling mangroves - it marked a turning point by starting to build vital trust between Mangrove and groups like Palm Beach County.
Keith and Kyle steadily nurtured relationships with small contributions here and there, gradually demonstrating they were a team player committed for the long haul. Their "show up and help out" mindset paid off. As their business grew and they expanded their backyard nursery, word spread that Mangrove could be counted on as a passionate partner dedicated to the mission of restoring South Florida's mangroves.
Expanding the Impact Through Partnerships
As Mangrove's reputation as a trusted mangrove provider and community advocate grew, so did their role in high-profile restoration initiatives. Groups like Palm Beach County began to see them as a valuable resource, contributing not just mangroves, but expertise and community engagement. Mangrove was invited to spearhead the planting of flagship sites like Snook Islands, now supplying hundreds of robust mangroves cultivated in their ever-expanding nursery.
Realizing the importance of community connections, Keith and Kyle built relationships with local groups like the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, securing mangrove donations and involving Florida's fishing community in the planting process. This helped expand restoration's reach and ignite public passion.
Mangrove's biggest undertaking came in 2019 when Palm Beach County tapped them to lead the community restoration of Tarpon Cove, a high-priority 17-acre site. Then later, when COVID shutdowns threatened to stall momentum, Mangrove kept the ball rolling by continuing restoration through private events with staff and loyal supporters. Keith and Kyle's "whatever it takes" mindset ensured the mangroves kept taking root, despite the challenges.
Driven by Meaning: Community, Legacy, and Love of Florida
For Keith and Kyle, Mangrove has always been about more than just growing a successful business - it's about creating deeper meaning through community, legacy, and sharing their love of Florida's natural beauty. They've drawn on the passions and artistic talents of their family to build the brand. They engage their local community - especially youth - by inviting them to get their hands dirty at restoration events. And the mangroves themselves represent leaving a living legacy to the waterways and ecosystems they've treasured since childhood. Today, over 20 acres of flourishing restored mangrove forests stand as a testament to the brothers' connection to the land.
From Backyard to Environmental Force
The Mangrove story is one of passion, persistence, and learning to turn struggles into strength. Driven by their soulful mission, Keith and Kyle have grown from two guys nurturing seedlings in their backyard nursery to a burgeoning force for mangrove restoration across South Florida. Their journey shows how embracing a mission with heart can transform simple beginnings into real, on-the-ground change. The thousands of mangroves now anchoring restored shorelines owe their lives to two brothers who cared enough to wade through the muck, believe in their vision, and plant seeds for the future. Their inspiring tale proves that with tenacity and community connections, a grassroots passion project can grow roots and reach new heights.