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Meet Danny Blue of One Million Acres (OMA) in Redondo Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danny Blue.

Danny, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve followed the somewhat typical path of “awakening” to my purpose that you hear so often these days…

Man works corporate job. Achieves great amount of financial success but is left unfulfilled. Leaves the safety and security of said corporate job for pursuit of purpose and fulfillment. Spends the next seven years flailing and contemplating every decision he’s ever made in a state of existential crisis.

You know, that story…

So yeah, I worked in Corporate Account Sales for Verizon Wireless for about five years and gradually worked my way up the ladder. Was making more money than I ever had before, was living in a little bachelor pad a block away from the beach in Venice, and by all measures was “living the life.” I think my big moment of clarity came one day when I realized that I could literally continue making the money I was making without actually having to do much at all, as a large part of my compensation was coming in on a residual/recurring basis at that point. Yet STILL I wanted out. The situation most people would dream about, financial security without a whole lot of effort…but something deep inside me told me I needed to leave.

Ironically it was right around that time that I met my wife. Looking back, I’m not sure if she would’ve signed up for this had she known we were getting together at the exact moment I was giving up all the financial stability I had worked the past five years to create.

From there, I had a couple of random gigs here and there, as well as a failed attempt to open a fast-casual franchise restaurant (if you’re thinking about getting into the restaurant biz…don’t do it! Haha…but for real, shout out to all the restaurant owners out there that are making it happen. RESPECT…you are my heroes.)

What’s funny (not “haha” funny but more like “crazy that we made out alive” funny) is that our twins (now four years old) came just two months before we opened the doors to the restaurant. Needless to say, that entire first year in business is a complete blur.

It was during that time that I was starting to go through somewhat of a spiritual awakening myself. The pull to something bigger was calling me more and more each day, and I found myself spending a lot of time doing various forms of deep inner work.

I have always been very deeply connected to Nature, and the most profound and memorable moments in my life typically seem to revolve around that. After watching countless documentaries on the devastating effects of deforestation on our planet, I knew that I wanted to create something that could truly leave an impact on the world.

That was the start of the idea that would eventually become my company, OMA (One Million Acres.)

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting an entrepreneurial journey is already a serious undertaking in and of itself. Doing it while raising newborn twins is another story altogether. You don’t just have yourself to consider anymore. The thoughts that come up around whether or not you have what it takes to succeed carry an extra weight of anxiety and urgency, in that you now have a family to provide for.

When I started the initiative, I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT it would be. All I knew was that I wanted to create a social enterprise that helped raise awareness and create impact in the space that I was so passionate about, saving the Earth’s rainforests. In the beginning, the company was called Soulstice, and I created a line of yoga-based accessories and apparel that would fund the protection of an entire acre of endangered rainforest with every item sold.

One of the first big challenges in those early days came when we got approved to vend at a big conscious music festival. I was beyond excited to bring my project to the masses, and was absolutely positive that we’d kill it at the festival. So my wife and I packed our twins up in an RV and hit the road. The event bombed, and left me super defeated. Despite being totally broken and depleted, I guess I at least had the foresight to recognize this as the Universe testing me to see how committed I was to truly seeing this project through.

One of our shirts back then had the tagline “Create. Inspire. Evolve.” which at the time, I believed was just a nice aspirational message to the world. Looking back, I realize that the message within was actually for ME. The business has shifted and evolved through many iterations since then, and I truly feel that my ability to be open to “evolving” the business to where it is today is the main reason I’m still here.

That being said, the best advice I could give to anyone on this journey would be to maintain an even balance of steadfast determination to see your project through to success, with equal parts openness and willingness to pivot and shift when necessary.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about One Million Acres (OMA) – what should we know?
OMA (One Million Acres) is a social enterprise that is raising awareness on the effects of deforestation on our planet and helping to mitigate them. Through our Buy One Save an Acre™ program, every item sold funds the permanent protection of an entire acre of critically endangered rainforest. To do this, we’ve partnered with an organization called Rainforest Trust, one of the leading organizations in the protection of tropical ecosystems worldwide.

Last year we launched our flagship product, a bracelet that contains a seed from the Amazon Rainforest inside a locket, through a Kickstarter campaign. After successfully funding the project, we are now transitioning into growing and scaling the brand through new outlets. With some new zero-waste packaging in the works, we are gearing up to start pushing into various different Retail channels.

We are not the first to use a bracelet to create impact in the world. The model has been used many times before with great success. What makes our bracelet unique, aside from it being the first to help protect endangered rainforests, is the design that lets you carry a seed from the rainforest with you at all times. That and each bracelet also comes with a plantable intention card that you can right a personal goal or vision on, and then “grow” through the wildflower seeds embedded inside.

I would say the thing that I’m the most proud of, while at the same time that poses the biggest challenge, is really taking a stand for conservation. There are plenty of organizations that are doing amazing work in the environmental space planting trees and cleaning the ocean, which are ultimately very “feel-good” types of projects to support. The problem is that they are REACTIVE initiatives, as opposed to PROACTIVE. We can plant all the trees in the world, but if we continue along the path we’re on destroying all of the existing forests we DO have, none of it will matter.

The protection of tropical rainforests was recently shown to be one of our most efficient tools in the fight against climate change, in that these ecosystems have been evolving for millions of years to provide the ideal conditions for life on Earth. It will take HUNDREDS of years for any reforestation efforts to evolve into the complex machines they are today. Reforestation is for sure necessary right now, but alone it’s not enough.

Not mention the staggering amount of species loss we are now facing due to deforestation. The UN recently released a report estimating that 1 MILLION species are now at risk of extinction due to these practices. While it’s not as glamorous as planting trees (which by the way I’m a HUGE advocate for) I truly feel that protecting our Earth’s rainforests is one of the most important environmental issues of our time.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I would say the characteristics that have been most important to my success so far are the ability to stay open to the gifts available when you let go of expectations and a diehard commitment to seeing the project through to success.

My brain seems to always be working in overdrive, and despite incorporating a daily meditation practice into my routine, many days I feel like I have a unique form of ADD that the world has never seen before. If left unchecked, this can cause me to question whether or not I have what it takes to remain focused long enough to get the job done.

I think what has helped me the most is being able to take a step back and really just focus on one step at a time, and release the expectation that I “should” be further along than I am right now. Staying in the flow and enjoying the process as much as possible is the name of the game.

After all, life is too short to spend it in overwhelm and anxiety all the time, especially when you’re doing something that you truly care about.


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Image Credit:
Michael Dubrow

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