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Pillow Puffs Up Turtles’ Survival

Hand-crafted pillow raises funds for turtles in Gulf of Mexico

By Nancy Menefee Jackson |

Her line of elegant home décor treasures was inspired by the sea and its whimsical creatures, so when the oil spill devastated the Gulf of Mexico, Lynn McKernan was horrified.

McKernan, president of Rightside Design, debuted a handcrafted pillow at the Philadelphia Gift Show in July that is a fundraiser for the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP), which is coordinated by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.

The “Turtle of the Sea” pillow features a striking portrait of a sea turtle in brown and aqua on an off-white background. The raised shell is fashioned from organza metallic embroidery threads and sequins, while the leathery head and flippers are made from textured vinyl. Like all of the products in Rightside Design’s I Sea Life Collection, the Turtle of the Sea Pillow’s organic design is inspired by nature, but the lush fabrics and hand-beaded accents elevate it to a work of art. Ten percent of all proceeds from sales of the turtle pillows will go to the LMMSTRP.

“As I watched the heart-wrenching images of wildlife just coated in oil from the Gulf, I was especially saddened and angered by the destruction we were witnessing,” says McKernan. “For years, I’ve taken inspiration from the beauty of nature and wildlife around our coasts. The I Sea Life home décor collection is all about the delicate balance of beauty and nature. To see marine life destroyed like this made me feel so powerless and angry. I wanted to channel this into a positive and constructive response.”

I think that each of us wants to do something to make a difference.

When she learned that sea turtles would be the species most affected by the oil spill, inspiration for the design crystallized.

Not only does the oil disrupt the sea turtle’s natural food supply, when turtle ingest oil, it damages their ability to absorb nutrition. As an added insult, the spill occurred during turtle breeding season, when tiny hatchlings were first entering oil-clogged waters.

LMMSTRP has been designated as the primary responder for the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of all marine mammals and sea turtles along the Louisiana coast.

Currently, LMMSTRP has rescued four out of the five species of sea turtles that are found in the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the turtles are Kemp’s Ridley, which are the world’s most critically endangered species of sea turtles.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

“We’re eager to partner with Rightside Design for this fundraiser,” says Ron Forman, president and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute. “Audubon is thankful for the generous support received from many organizations across the country to help the Gulf coast region.”

“When I first launched this line, it was all about celebrating the gifts of nature and the sea,” says McKernan. “Now, those gifts are being threatened in a way the world may never recover from. We all feel that potential loss, and I think that each of us wants to do something to make a difference. The Audubon Nature Institute can. And at this crucial moment, I am hopeful that I can, too.”

Rightside Design specializes in affordable coastal living home accents inspired by marine life on every coast. The I Sea Life collection features hand-beaded and embroidered pillows, sustainable bamboo products, unique shaped herbal sachets and wall art. The full catalog of I Sea Life designs can be found at http://www.mysealifestyle.com/index.html.

Locally, the I Sea Life collection is sold at the following stores:

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