How it all began
It’s 2015, and Benjamin and Madeleine are both happy in their jobs. He is Head of Marketing for two start-ups at Bosch, she will soon become Head of Art Buying at BBDO. But right now they are only thinking about their upcoming holiday. They pack their backpacks and head to Tanzania and Zanzibar to relax and do some diving. What they don’t know: They will not only return with wonderful holiday memories but also with the exciting story of how Bracenet was founded. And that’s the story we’re going to tell you in this article.
The first encounter with ghost nets
Zanzibar’s coast is wonderful. The water is perfect for diving, as the beautiful underwater world is in clear sight. However, Madeleine and Benjamin soon discover less pleasant images: pieces of old fishing nets. They drift through the water, litter beaches and pose a great danger to the environment. When animals get caught in these nets, they are unable to free themselves. The couple cannot watch and ignore what they see, so they start collecting the nets. They don’t just want to document the problem, they want to tackle it. But how?
An idea starts to develop
During their initial research, Benjamin and Madeleine quickly learn what these nets are: ghost nets, i.e. fishing nets that are lost or deliberately dumped at sea, thousands of which drift through our oceans. Not much else is known about this issue back in 2015 – but the problem desperately requires a solution. Lost in thought, Madeleine and Benjamin each put a piece of net around their wrists – and see bracelets before their inner eyes. The idea of Bracenet is born! With their backpacks full of ghost nets, they return to Germany.
The solution around your wrist
The holiday has a lasting effect. While Madeleine and Benjamin are still working full-time, they devote their free time to their new and most important hobby, hunting for and upcycling ghost nets. Building on their excitement for craftsmanship and their eye for design, they further develop the prototype of the bracelet. They call it “Bracenet”, a combination of “bracelet” and “net”. In the same year, Bracenet is founded as a company. Things are slowly taking off!
Our network against ghost nets
The solution is taking shape, but the problem is still too big for two people alone. Although hardly anyone talks about ghost nets yet, Benjamin and Madeleine come across promising projects during their intensive research. They make contact, exchange knowledge and ideas, and soon form firm partnerships. Bracenet joins forces with Healthy Seas and Ghost Diving to recover the nets, and collaborates with Nofir to wash, select and prepare the nets for their new life as bracelets. The Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster assists with the production of the Bracenets.
From the Ocean and for the Seas
The concept is finalised: Madeleine and Benjamin produce Bracenets. They retrieve ghost nets from the oceans and upcycle them into beautiful bracelets that raise awareness about the problem and are stylish accessories at the same time. Up to 5 € for every product sold are then donated to Healthy Seas to finance further recovery missions. The new claim perfectly summarises Bracenets’s mission: “Save the Seas. Wear a Net”. Because with Bracenet, everyone can make their own contribution to protecting the seas.
Saving the seas full-time
Two years later, Benjamin and Madeleine are still working in their main careers. They run Bracenet alongside their jobs and dive deeper and deeper into the world of sustainability. Suddenly, a big order from Telekom comes along, which they only manage with the help of friends and family. The feedback is amazing, the support overwhelming! The project quickly becomes more serious and in 2017 they quit their main jobs to fully concentrate on Bracenet.
5 years later
Bracenet has now been around for five years. Madeleine, Benjamin and their project have become one big “we”: With 35 employees, we liberate the oceans from the haunt of the ghost nets and continuously expand our product range. In addition to bracelets, our portfolio includes key rings, dog leashes, rings, mask chains, camera straps and much more. In total, we have already processed over 5 tonnes of ghost nets and, together with all our supporters, generated over 175,000 € in donations for Healthy Seas and other organisations.
In a nutshell, our story looks quite simple. But behind the scenes, it meant a lot of work and it wasn’t always easy. Founding a company is always a challenge, and Benjamin and Madeleine have particularly high standards when it comes to sustainability. Over the years, they have become real experts together with the Bracenet team and now consults others in regards to sustainability. We advise companies and organisations on how they can make their processes and products more sustainable and support founders on their way to success. If you are currently founding a social or sustainable start-up yourself, feel free to contact us at [email protected]!
In this article we looked at our history – but now we look to the future! We’ve got a long way to go to save the oceans, and are planning many exciting steps over the coming months. Subscribe to our Ocean Club News (at the bottom of the home page) to get regular updates about new products, our product development and marine conservation, or follow us on Instagram to see how the Bracenet story goes on!