GVSU Grads Launch Michigan Overboard to Raise Funds for Great Lakes

Michigan Overboard sells athletic headbands to raise money for the Great Lakes.

Michigan Overboard donates 21 percent of its profits to water protection and conservation-focused nonprofits. That isn’t just some random number either, 21 percent of the surface fresh water on planet Earth is right here in the Great Lakes basin.

Jeffrey Cremonte, co-founder of Michigan Overboard, said Michiganders should “take the lead in protecting the natural wonder” that is the Great Lakes.

“The people of Michigan can’t expect anyone else to take care of our own backyard. Our fresh water is the backbone of Michigan’s economy and the lifestyle,” he said.

Cremonte and his business partner, Derek Hoggard, launched Michigan Overboard to do just that.

The pair are Grand Valley State University graduates who met during their freshman year (in 2011) and eventually decided they both had the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to launch a business and follow their passions.

Both men are from Michigan. Cremonte grew up in Pinckney and Hodges is from Potterville.

Michigan Overboard's athletic headbands are fun accessories for the outdoors and active lifestyles.
Michigan Overboard’s athletic headbands are fun accessories for the outdoors and active lifestyles.

Cremonte said he wanted to sell products that people “could use outdoors and when being active.”

“Athletic headbands were the perfect item for us to start with because they are unique and act as a great accessory when out enjoying Michigan’s natural wonders,” he said.

Cremonte said Michigan Overboard plans to expand its product line, but it will do so thoughtfully.

“At this point, we are still a young business and will expand as fast as the market allows. Our ultimate goal is to have a line of different products and events to create a steady stream of donations for our benefiting NPOs.”

He added, “Unlike other brands, we refuse to source just any product, slap a logo on it and sell it. We want to find USA made or customized products that are high-quality, unique and bring people closer to the lakes, rivers, streams and outdoors of Michigan.”

21 percent of the Earth's surface water is located in the Great Lakes basin.
21 percent of the Earth’s surface water is located in the Great Lakes basin.

Cremonte said if Michigan Overboard can raise $1,000 in this first year for each of its four nonprofit recipients he’d consider that a success. (West Michigan Environmental Action Council is one of the nonprofits receiving Michigan Overboard donations).

“I would be extremely pleased,” he said.

Cremonte said the nonprofits Michigan Overboard donates proceeds to need proper funding for general operations, research, education, advocacy and action. “Michigan’s watershed and environmental NPOs are truly the frontline troops in the battle to keep Michigan pure. We need to keep them well supplied, so to speak.”

Cremonte also hopes to build Michigan Overboard’s social media presence to help educate more people about Michigan and its Great Lakes.

“Our social media pages (Instagram and Facebook) work hard to promote that sense of community,” he said. “As Michiganders, the lakes are truly our common ground and maintaining our pristine waters for future generations is something we can all agree on. We want to inspire Michiganders to get out and enjoy their state and do their part in protecting it.”

Cremonte said part of his motivation for founding Michigan Overboard was his departure to North Carolina.

“I am a clinical exercise science major who is now currently enrolled in Duke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. When I left Michigan to go to school in North Carolina, I wanted to find a way to stay connected to Michigan and the lifestyle there,” he said.

Cremonte said even though he lives in North Carolina now, Michigan will always be home. “I feel like every Michigander that leaves the state knows that their connection to home never really fades. I was born, raised and educated here. My family and roots are here.

“Michiganders are a loyal bunch, who take care of their own, and that’s what I plan on doing no matter where my career as a physical therapist takes me.”

Find Michigan Overboard products online.

*Photos courtesy of Michigan Overboard

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