How the natural pigments of marine life inspired a beauty startup – News @ Northeastern


While earning a PhD in chemistry at Northeastern, Camille Martin worked with Leila Deravi, an assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, who has been exploring pigments and proteins in marine life for six years.

Martin recognized an opportunity to develop beauty products from marine ecosystems.

Martin and Deravi co-founded Seaspire Skin Care, a promising 2019 startup. The progress Martin was pushing inspired other budding entrepreneurs to contact her for information and advice. As a result of these connections, Martin formed Alexandria Growth Brands, a Massachusetts-based company that supports aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start tech companies.

In support of his efforts, Martin received a first prize of $ 5,000 Innovator Award north-east Women who empower themselves inclusion and entrepreneurship initiative. The awards recognize 19 female graduates or current students at Northeastern. The organization is distributing a total of $ 100,000 in grants to help fund 17 businesses.

Martin was not considering becoming an entrepreneur.

“All of my early efforts were focused on creating a great resume to get a job at a multinational beauty company,” Martin said. “I never thought I would be able to do the kind of work I do right now: running a commodities company and thinking about how we can support emerging brands. “

Martin was a doctoral student in the Northeast when she co-founded Seaspire Skincare, which develops new ingredients inspired by marine ecosystems that can be used to treat cosmetic and chronic skin conditions. Photo by Alyssa Stone / Northeastern University

Her career plans changed when she hooked up with Deravi. Their partnership resulted in the filing of two provisional patents in their first three months together.

“We had worked on the study of animals with changing colors such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish,” explains Martin. “They are known to quickly change their appearance when it comes to their texture, color and shape. Initially, we were interested to see how a molecule found in these animals could be used as a new dye for cosmetics.

Deravi would become Seaspire’s scientific advisor. Martin, the CEO, focused on business applications of science with support from Kevin Scanlon, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation practice at Northeastern.

“She [developed] a business plan, an investor presentation and a customer survey on the product, ”says Scanlon, who has advised Martin for several years. “Camille is one of the best entrepreneurs I have met at university, an intelligent, balanced and attentive personality.”

Seaspire is in the process of selling its proprietary ingredient blends to partners who could apply them to their product lines, Martin explains. Along the way, she applied the lessons of her startup to advise the three teams of entrepreneurs who could sign with Alexandria Growth Brands.

“Women are my first target group,” says Martin. “But I also hope to reach out to other people who may also be underserved for entrepreneurship. It can be a racial demographics; it may be in places, to help people in rural areas.

“This capital,” she says of her $ 5,000 Innovator Award, “is going to be used to help these groups.”

Martin hopes to establish a long-term relationship with Women Who Empower.

“I look forward to further developing relationships with Northeastern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and creating a pipeline to engage with students,” says Martin.

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