Ambassador Spotlight: Cyrus Sutton

Cyrus Sutton

We believe there’s a connection between our well-being and our beaches. When we restore the beach from harmful pollutants we create clean and beautiful places to restore ourselves. We caught up with our long-time ambassador, Cyrus Sutton, to hear about his continuous efforts to better our planet.

Cyrus is not only an extremely talented surfer and filmmaker, he’s also a co-founded an organic, reef safe sun care company called Manda. Manda focuses on making products the best on the market not only for performance but also starting with sustainability at the core of the business. Learn more about his journey below.

Why did you start the company?

My dad, an avid sunblock user, got skin cancer 10 years ago and it made me question the products I was putting on my body. I started making my own formulas and Manda is an extension of that.

What were some challenges you faced when building it?

There have been many. We have been very ambitious. We will not put anything out which isn't better than what currently exists. I personally will not expend the resources to make something that isn't bettering a solution. That's wasteful in my opinion. So we have been perfectionists which wasn’t easy early on from a cashflow perspective. Everything from pioneering bio-based plastic packaging for our sun creme and organic paw paw salve to our unique formulas, none of these have been the easiest path. But I think we are doing it right and now that’s translating to healthy sales. Also education is tricky, there is so much misleading information being put out by our competitors about being "chemical-free, oxybenzone-free and featuring organic ingredients." Many of them still contain octinate and other chemicals which have been shown to hurt reef and human health. I get why other companies want to take the easier path, doing things right isn’t glamorous or easy. Our strategy is just to keep leading by example and let the chips fall where they may.

What are some of the things that set it apart from other sunscreens?

We feature thanaka which is a tree bark used in SE Asia for centuries to protect skin from sun damage. Integrating this into our formulas lessens the amount of zinc oxide we need to use. Zinc is the active ingredient in all reef safe sunscreens but it is a mineral mined from the Earth. Trees being a renewable resource allow us to lessen our impact more than what is currently available.

Why is it important to you?

After my activism work I've felt that I can make the most change by getting inside the system rather than critiquing it from the outside. It's easy to be a perfectionist when you aren't bound by the constraints of the system you're seeking to improve. Because of this I want to gain as much literacy around business and capitalism as I possibly can.

Photography above by Matt Smith.

What have you been up to this year (any fun surf trips planned)?

I have been spending time on my land in Washington and driving to the coast to surf when there's swell. I had a fun month in Mexico for the MexiLogFest this spring and I'm heading to Ireland tomorrow to shoot a music documentary and hopefully get a few waves.

Any big projects coming up?

Yes! Nothing I can share the details of at the moment but I've been researching a lot his year for this next adventure.

Favorite wave riding vehicle at the moment?

I have a Takayama 9'6" longboard that I've been enjoying a lot. I also got a quiver of great shortboards from Tim Stamps that I'm riding a lot.

Good read recommendation?

I just finished The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. It dissects the notion that time does not actually exist as proven by physicists and what that means for our perceptions of reality.

Photography above by Sarah Lee.