Making a big difference with small actions

Cristina asked me to share a little about myself, my company, and my connection to her nonprofit, People of the Water. Who am I to say no to the Women Divers Hall of Fame inductee, Cristina Zenato? My name is Cheryl Adams and I have always been a coastal, beach, and ocean lover. I was born in California and moved to Maryland when I was three and still call it home. My motivation to start my charitable clothing company, Shelby Reef, came after watching the Sharkwater documentaries. That’s where I learned about the shark fin industry and how many sharks are in jeopardy. I knew I had to do something. I had heard about other companies donating a portion of their profit for a good cause and thought, I can do that! I decided casual beach apparel would be a perfect fit and started with t-shirts. They not only raise money for the cause but they can also raise awareness. 

So on January 1, 2019, Shelby Reef was born! I started by offering a small collection to friends and family to raise money for inventory to get rolling. It has been a huge challenge and has required more time and money than I thought it would but I would do it over in a heartbeat. We are growing steadily. I say we because while I am the only one working the business, I am building a community of people who want to help. To be a part of something bigger. And saving and protecting sharks is definitely something big!

That’s where Cristina and her nonprofit comes in. I knew I wanted to support a smaller nonprofit that was really making a big difference and that I could have a personal relationship with. I reached out to Cristina and when we talked on the phone I knew it was a good fit. We have a shared passion to not only save and protect sharks but understand how that plays into protecting the entire planet. And we both share a love of yoga. Nature, sharks, and yoga! Cristina’s knowledge and desire to educate, inspire, and protect are what Shelby Reef is all about.


I’ll close with a little story not many people know about me. Years ago I was walking on the beach along the water in Ocean City, MD, and saw a group of people just ahead of me crowded around something. As I approached, I could see it was a small shark. Maybe 2-3 feet long. The people gathered around were trying to take pictures and calling friends to see. I knew it needs to get back in the water and found another girl who was as concerned as me. Together we kept people away and picked up that shark and took it out to the waves (full disclosure; she was in front). It swam off and it felt so good to save another creature. So I guess I was meant to this. To do what I can to save & protect the most majestic of creatures, the shark.


Cheryl Adams

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