Many people already know my story and I’ve been at the cross roads many times in my life where I had the choice to fold my cards and walk away, or continue. This has been the most pronounced with my Ocean SF Sailing Apparel Company. The first cross road occurred at the onset when my husband of 20 years died suddenly of a heart attack sitting at his desk at work. I had just made my first prototype six weeks before. I was so excited and could clearly see the path before me and had outlined it in full detail in slides and spreadsheet. Then all of a sudden those dreams began to crumble as the weight of my responsibilities on other fronts grew.
Yet, I continued to keep my dream alive getting up at 5:30 a.m. working several jobs, taking care of my kids and sorting out the details of my husbands estate. It wasn’t easy, but I prevailed. Then last Spring Covid-19 hit. I had to realistically ask myself “Am I going to let my dream die?” as the retail industry melted down and sales plummeted it was becoming a very real possibility.
One dark and cold morning I reached out to an investor and he inspired me not to give up just because of a pandemic. Yes, “just” because of a pandemic.
These are the seven things I did to continue to follow my dream of making sustainable and ethical outdoor wear in the midst of a global pandemic.
- Make A Decision: I made a decision that I would not give up. Many things in life are simply about deciding and I decided that no matter what happened I would not give up.
- Give to Others: I committed to giving 10% of all of my sales to The 5 Gyres and the Loneley Whale Foundation both of these organizations support ocean conservation. Not only did I make this commitment I began writing a check each time I made a sale and putting it in the mail. When I wrote these checks I blessed my company that it is capable of providing this funding and the organization and their hard work that contributes to the health of our planet.
- Reach Out: I reached out to everyone who had told me in passing that they wanted to buy something and most of them, with the exception of only one man, said yes! I was fortunate to have sizes that worked for them in stock. It was a great feeling to drop these orders in the mail with a personal thank you note.
- Reward Yourself: As I made sales and moved my company forward I would do nice things for myself. I would take a hike, or a hot bath or spend time in my garden.
- Say Yes: Public speaking makes me very, very, very nervous and I have a packed schedule, but when I was asked to speak to Oregon State University’s Design Thinking Business class I said yes. When I was asked for an interview with San Francisco Fashion Week. I said yes. Both of these experiences were rewarding and I felt I was giving back to the many people who have been equally generous to me with their time. Now, I can’t wait to be invited back and do it again.
- Step Out from Behind the Scenes: During the course of building my brand I did many photo shoots and I was in none of the photos. Now, I am both the face and voice of my brand.
- Bet Your Money On It: When Covid-19 hit I was working on acquiring more investors, as the impact of the pandemic continued and weeks turned into months I found that if I wanted to make more clothes I had to fund them myself. I also realized that by making clothes I’m helping my factory and the women who work there thrive and I am helping my customers to stay warm while keeping my own dream alive. Win-win-won.