What were you doing with your allowance at age 7? After watching Shark Week in the summer of 2018, Miles Fetherson-Resch wanted to spend his helping sharks – and oceans – and beaches – that he saw were under threat. But, as Miles soon found, “Thirteen dollars doesn’t do a whole lot.”
That urge for impact led Miles, along with his mom, to found Kids Saving Oceans, a conservation lifestyle brand for both kids and adults that donates a portion of every sale to a local conservation organization. That’s also what led him to the stage at St. Pete Pitch Night, an inaugural pitch competition organized by St. Pete Greenhouse. Miles’ pitch earned him first place – and $5,000 in prize money to use to further Kids Saving Oceans.
“I’m here tonight with my mom,” Miles said as he introduced his co-presenter. “I’m Mom, or Jess,” she said. “I’m here tonight to help with your questions and to make sure that Miles doesn’t tell you shark jokes for six minutes.”
Miles spent his six minutes laying out a case for the impact Kids Saving Oceans has had, and could have, if it won the $5,000 prize. Since Miles’ first event in February, he’s already donated $6,000 to local conservation organizations like the Surfrider Foundation, Mission Blue, Shark Allies and Keep Pinellas Beautiful. His ultimate goal is to donate $1 million by the time he turns 18.
But Miles isn’t just selling adorable, eco-friendly, marine-inspired merchandise. He’s also inspiring a generation. His mom, Jess, shared the story of Miles’ new friend, 5-year-old Amelia, who after seeing Miles’ work at Kids Saving Oceans, organized a weekly family beach clean-up of her own. Clearly, these are no ordinary elementary schoolers.
“In the last 50 years, we – well, really you, I’m only 7 – have taken so much from our oceans and beaches,” Miles said. “You got us into this mess, now me and my generation have to fix it. There’s still time, but not a lot – to fix things for me, and for Amelia, and for my friends, and for your children, and for your children’s children. The time is now.”
Miles told the panel of judges, which included St. Petersburg’s own Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Reuben Pressman; Intrinio’s Rachel Carpenter; Stephen Diasio, professor of entrepreneurship at Kate Tiedemann College of Business; and Regions Bank’s Jim Donatelli, that the prize money would go toward more illustrations (concepted by Miles himself!), marketing, and more shirt options for adults and babies.
According to Miles, in selling the shirts bought by the $5,000 prize, Kids Saving Oceans will be able to donate $7,500 to its local nonprofit partners. With half that money, he said, Keep Pinellas Beautiful can remove more than 11,000 pounds of trash from local beaches, engage over 300 people in clean-ups and save taxpayers “a lot of money.”
He closed with a hopeful challenge: “The oceans are rising and so are we.”