Sea change meets tree change
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Kay Saarinen and Jo Lane are playing with seaweed and it’s paying off for both of them.
The two women have formed a business partnership based on the principles of permaculture:
local, sustainable and natural.
Kay is the founder and creator of Saarinen Organics, a skincare range that uses organic Australian
ingredients, and Jo is a marine biologist who owns and runs Sea Health Products, a business that
turns wild harvested Golden Kelp into nutraceuticals.
Jo’s seaweed story began when she processed a fisheries permit for Scott Long, the son of Betty
Long, the woman who pioneered the Australian seaweed industry. It piqued Jo’s interest and when
Scott put the business up for sale, she took the plunge and bought it.
That was four years ago. Today she harvests kelp, washes it in rain water, dries it in the sun on
racks and then turns it into powder or granules that can be added to smoothies, salads and taken
as a dietary supplement. She has recently started experimenting with a smoked seafood flakes
that has more flavour than her standard product.
Having recently won a Churchill Fellowship, Jo is about to travel to Korea for the International
Seaweed Symposium where she will visit some of the largest seaweed farms in the world. Her
plan is to learn more about ocean farming so that she can look at implementing these aquaculture
techniques in Australia. She is currently testing seaweed propagation methods with the help of the
The benefits of farming seaweed are not just about ensuring a reliable supply of kelp for her
business. Thriving kelp forests improve ocean health and biodiversity, and also create a carbon
When asked what the nutritional benefits of eating seaweed are, Jo says, “Seaweed is like a
natural multivitamin and contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as
iodine that helps regulate the thyroid.”
Sea Health Products sponsors, Jack Hewish, Australian Enduro National mountain bike
champion, who uses it for muscle recovery while some of her other customers use it to treat their
arthritis and thyroid issues.
Seaweed has been used therapeutically for centuries in both Asia and Europe. Jo says there are
spas in Ireland where people bathe with seaweed.
“It’s said to be anti-ageing, antioxidant and anti-cellulite,” she says.
The benefits don’t stop there, though.
Kay has started using Jo’s seaweed products in her skincare range. She uses the powder in a face
mask, makes a tincture from the raw product that she adds to her day cream, and uses the
granules in the coffee scrub.
Kay says that seaweed is moisturising, nourishing and has a high silica content that boosts
collagen production in the skin.
Because Kay’s products use the whole plant, they are less reactive with the skin than products that
use seaweed extracts.
Kay says that she loves working with Jo because she’s a scientist.
“I know that her information is good. She knows everything about her product – how to harvest,
when to harvest, what to harvest – her expertise guarantees the quality of the product,” she says.
“It’s a great partnership because we both have science behind us and we both believe in helping
people live healthy, sustainable lives,” says Kay.