Even before my husband died I had strange incidents of synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences. Yesterday, I had a meeting at Berkeley Yacht Club with a woman I met at the Project Entrepreneur Summit. Julie runs a company called the Healing Farm, and I was telling her the story behind the purchase of our beloved sail boat, Solana. I wrote about this nine months ago when it happened, but it is even more relevant now that Solana is in the water and such a big part of our lives.
Grief is a tricky emotion. Sometimes, the pain subsides and it’s possible for me to go about my day like a normal person, but other times it is crippling. For me, the saddest part is raising my daughters alone, and there are times when the weight and sorrow of this is too much to bare. This is compounded by having lost my own father when I was nine years old, and my mother twenty years later. If I allow myself to think too hard about these losses I am left with a stunning sense of abandonment. One day in particular, I was in the later mindset. I was running errands and crying while doing so.
People in my small town are, as a rule, very kind, so no one appeared to notice as I did my shopping while crying. As my tears fell the checkers would only look at me with compassion and ask softly if I might need a bag for my purchases. While picking up wrapping paper at Home Goods, I saw a coffee cup that said, “Sunshine heals” and around the rim, “You are my sunshine” and I decided to buy it for myself to cheer myself up. I paid for it, and took it home with me, and later that night, I was texting Andrew, my boat partner and business partner, and I asked the name of the boat he wanted to buy, and he said, “Solana” or “Sunshine” in Spanish. I was drinking out of the cup as I read this, and then my eyes slowly glanced down, there was a sun on the front with a smiley face. ☀️
This was definitely in the category of rare moments I will never forget, and now having since bought and successfully restored our beautiful sailboat Solana, it makes that moment even more meaningful.
As I’ve moved forward on this difficult journey, I’ve followed signs like these, they are like guide posts along the way, I don’t know if it is the Universe or God, or my own belief in such things, but they are always with me. One day, I was singing a song in the house as I was getting ready to leave, and when I got in the car, it was playing on the radio. Whether, it is a song, or meeting someone new who is so encouraging of my writing or my company Ocean SF, it makes me feel like I am on the right path.
Buying Solana was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We now have our meetings for Ocean SF on our boat, and it will soon serve as a mobile pop-up store (more on this later). And for The Trident Project, our non-profit, it will be used to troll for plastics and gather water samples for Berkeley Labs.
The cup I bought so many months ago, now sits on the desk in my office, and holds my colored pencils, and as for the tears, well, sometimes, it really is alright to cry.
As the months go by, I am grateful for the beautiful and supportive small town I live in, all of the friends I’ve made sailing, and starting my sailing apparel line, and for our little yellow boat, Solana.
Love and blessings to all.
As I love nothing more than educating myself on any subject, I’ve spent a good deal of time reading about what makes a business successful. Not only is Ocean SF, the company that will support me well into the future, it is also the business that will support my children through the remaining years of high school and college, and those first shaky years after graduation. I have been working very hard on Ocean SF for well over a year now. It is no mere hobby.
What I have learned is; love is a great attractor to success, and passion is the most important ingredient in business. Having purpose and a clear vision follows these. Studies now show that the control managerial styles of the past are no longer viable.
“Applying chaos theory to organizational practice tends to go against the grain of most formal management patterns. Order can be confused with the more popular notion of control. It is hard to open ourselves up to a world of inherent disorderliness.”
My business partner and I do most of our meetings on our boat now, or on the boats of other people. We talk for hours about our company, our vision, sustainability and our brand. Because Ocean SF is such a great love of mine this doesn’t feel like work. Recently, we had dinner at the Yacht Club with a group of friends. Andrew and I had met prior to this and then joined a group for drinks on another boat before dinner. At the end of dinner I looked around our table and noticed that we had been talking about our business for two plus hours. I finally apologized, but our friends told us they are used to it. I am thankful for so much support from everyone around me.
“Typically businesses are organized around structure and design. Charts are drawn to illustrate who is accountable to whom or who plays what role and when. Experts break down organizations into the smallest of parts. They build models of organizational practice and policy with hope that this atomizing yields better information on how to improve the organization’s functioning. However, chaos theory implies that this is unnecessary, even harmful.”
When my business coach told me, if I were in her accelerator program I would be flunking, I just blinked. I knew that I was not turning in my documents as requested. But since I was paying her $220 per hour for each private session, I didn’t feel I had to. After two decades running projects I was absolutely sick of spreadsheets and project plans and working just the work, so other people might think I’m working.
After years of working as a Product Manager, Project Manager, and Marketing Director, I didn’t feel that my business needed a share drive full of documents and a group of people to update them. I was operating from a, “what absolutely, must logically, happen next,” form of management.
Startups are overwhelming in the sheer amount of work required by the founders, and to organize it well I simply base my efforts on priority.
I would literally think, “what do I have to do today, so that it won’t bite me in the ass later,” and that was all.
“Self-organizing systems are those enabled to grow and evolve with free will. As long as each part of the system remains consistent with itself and the systems’s past; these systems can harness the power of creativity, evolution, and free will—all within the boundaries of the organization’s overall vision and culture.”
My business partner and I are very different. He knows things, that I don’t know, that I don’t know. However, together we agree on just about everything. This is a refreshing change from working with other people where I’ve spent time defending my position, or saying nothing, but feeling my work was pointless. Andrew and I just decide. He takes over, or I take over, or we collaborate, with little discussion. We share the exact same vision.
“Informal leaders emerge in an organization not because they have been given control, but because they have a strong sense of how to address the needs of the group and its members. The most successful leaders understand that it is not the organization or the individual who is most important, but the relationship between the two. And that relationship is in constant change.”
Ocean SF is a community of the like minded; sailors, adventure seekers, environmentalists and entrepreneurs.
Love and blessings to all.
I’ve been talking about my company Ocean SF, a sailing apparel line that has recently launched the first product, a Merino wool sustainable mid layer jacket that retails for $225.00. In doing so, I have realized that many, many people do not understand how wool or any other sustainable product is superior to polyester.
Firstly, I am not someone who seeks out wool products. I am the type of person who drools over quilted $2,700 Chanel handbags. I’m not going to lie, as much as I love sitting on mountain tops and sailing, I also love fashion. I own a Louis Vuitton satchel that I bought in Seattle on my first business trip after graduating from college. It cost $425.00 plus tax. However, I’m proud to say, I used that bag for 10 years, I never bought anything else, and enjoyed the hell out of it, I still have it in my closet. One day, my daughter, Paris showed up in the city using it. As I don’t like to share, I bought her a gorgeous bottle green Dior bag for her 18th birthday. Today, I own five bags, a white Italian Furla, as well as a kelly green Kate Spade bucket bag for the summer, in the winter I use a black Kate Spade satchel and a black woven Bottega Veneta.
So wool, was not necessarily my priority. However, as I started sailing and getting very cold and very wet, it became extremely important to me. Like many adventure seekers, I am good at preparing for the outdoors, I have many jackets and understand the advantages of layering. One day, I was wearing a Gill Foulie jacket and under that a Helly Hansen polyester fleece. I was perfectly comfortable, until I took a wave down the back of my jacket at 8:30 a.m. on a sunny, though not warm, September day in the San Fransisco Bay. At the time, I had no idea I would be shaking and unable to drive when I reached my car 3 hours later. I had spent hours in the wind and cold soaked to the skin. I couldn’t go home just because I was cold. In fact, I was in the middle of the Bay, so I couldn’t go home at all, for any reason.
You see, you can wear wool and get wet without being cold. In the same way you would not wear a cotton tube sock skiing. Skiers and boarders wear wool, or their feet would be frost bitten. Most boots leak. Feet get wet. Cotton is not an option, polyester isn’t even a consideration. All ski socks are made of wool. Why wouldn’t a jacket be made of that as well? The fabric that we use has been custom milled with new technology designed to keep you even warmer than wools of the past, and it uses longer fibers that make it softer. It also has the added benefit of being beautiful.
After I became educated in the pollution caused by polyester fleece – yes, it’s true scientists are finding polyester fleece in the tissue of human cadavers – it became a mission for me to educate others. Washing polyester fleece in your washing machine releases nano-particals into our water systems that supply drinking water. This is not a speculation, but a fact.
I often wonder why anyone would wear polyester for a bike ride? Do you know how many chemicals are used to make a piece of fabric out of polyester, which is petroleum, which is gasoline? The toxins that are absorbed into your bloodstream as you cycle and perspire into this toxic jersey are astronomical. We wonder why there are so many diseases today. The studies have not been done, but it is a foregone conclusion that wearing petroleum next to your skin is not a good idea. Similar to cigarette smoking, by the time the studies are in, it’s too late.
Wool, cotton, linen, cashmere and other natural fibers are non-toxic and non-polluting. They become a part of our ecosystem and absorb back into the ground they came from. They are also breathable and comfortable in addition to being very soft and beautiful.
Need I say more?
Love and blessings to all.
Did you know that every time a polyester fleece jacket is machine washed up to 250,000 plastic microfibers are shed into our water system? These nano-particals can’t be filtered by municipal water utilities and they end up in the ocean, the fish we eat, and most importantly our drinking water.
Our company, Ocean SF, based in Berkeley, California is putting a stop to this. As avid sailors and adventure seekers in general, we began as a performance sailing apparel company, that focused on using natural fibers, especially Merino wool, because they are warmer and more comfortable.
As founders we can make our products out of whatever we want, but we were drawn to a new type of technical wool fabric, not because it preserved drinking water, but because it was gorgeous to look at and looked even better once we made a jacket out of it. Wool is self regulating and can be worn year round. It’s wonderful to have on when the temperatures drop and the winds picks up, which is mostly all the time on San Francisco Bay.
The first studies on water pollutants and the impact of polyester fleece came out around the same time we decided to mill our own Merino wool fabric using state of the art fabric milling technologies. We were aware that what we were doing could potentially provide a benefit to the environment. Now, with so many studies in the news, it’s apparent we are able to create sailing apparel with a much higher calling.
Sailors have worn wool for thousands of years because of it’s unique properties that keep you warm even when the fabric gets wet. Wool, cashmere, and other natural blends, outperform synthetic materials, which dry fast, but fail to keep one warm if they get wet.
Our textiles themselves are very sophisticated. We’ve been able to weave and knit multiple textures into a single piece of cloth. The interior side is meant to trap air between the garment and user’s skin to keep body heat in, the outside is tightly woven to keep the wind out. This is not the short fiber, itchy and inexpensive wool sold in the 1970’s.
It takes four months to create a single bolt of the fabric we use. We are one of very few companies dedicated to this, and we do it for our love of the ocean and our desire to keep our customers, ourselves, and our friends warm and comfortable while they are outside doing what they love most.
OCEAN SF will convert the entire old world order of adventurewear polyester to our idea of the use of only natural fibers in the natural world.
The big players in the adventure apparel market now know the risks their garments pose to the natural worlds that they are supposed to help people enjoy, and to us these inconsistencies are completely disqualifying. They are addicted to plastic based fabrics because they are easy to manufacture, light weight to ship, and highly profitable to their shareholders.
When you start wearing natural fibers in these beautiful natural places everything about the experience improves. The idea of wearing and obsorbing the chemicals used in production of a petroleum based polyester garment in contrast seems absolutely absurd.
Wool, linen, silk and cotton feels more honest, and more pure. It’s more than obvious, they are a better choice for the outdoors.
Shop our site for an alternative to the polyester fleece midlayer OCEANSF.CO.
I was sitting on a sailboat, in the middle of the Bay, just off of Alcatraz, waiting for our race to start when my daughter text messaged me that the FedEx package containing my first prototype had arrived. It was June of 2016. At 11:11 a.m., at the exact moment the gun went off to start the race, she sent me back a photo of her wearing the jacket.
In entrepreneurial circles there is much talk of interrupting certain industries, or changing the world. I simply want to make technical adventure clothing that aligns with my sustainable point of view of beautifully designed clothing made of natural fibers like; Merino wool, linen, silk, cotton, and cashmere blends.
I had arrived in LA with a bolt of orange Merino wool fabric and a poster sized drawing. Later, I created seams on my prototypes with dental floss and pins. I redesigned the jacket several times, and the sleeves alone several times, adding zippers and then a hidden waterproof pocket to the neckline. Nothing, had ever been more enjoyable and fun for me.
I brainstormed dozens of names until Ocean SF arrived from the ether. It held a certain je ne sais quoi and my friends Craig and Denise agreed. Craig is a retail professional so I trusted his judgement and the three of had a toast to the name. We were together in a Truckee with the kids. It was a night I will never forget.
From the very beginning the brand had its own personality, and everyone I talked to loved it immediately. Ocean SF had a magic since inception that made it easy to get people to join us and contribute their unique talents to our efforts.
Often, I tell people to find the thing they love the most in life and do that. If you do this, and you surround yourself with people who share your vision, you can achieve almost anything.
Water your seeds with hard work and determination and they will eventually bloom. And, you might just interrupt an industry, or save the world. Maybe both.
Love and blessings to all.
Andrew Lacenere and I met two years ago on a sail in September of 2015. During the many sailing trips that followed, Andrew and I dreamed into existence what would become Ocean SF. Then, in July of 2016 my husband died of a sudden heart attack, leaving me in a predictable tailspin.
My daughters needed me desperately, and I couldn’t foresee leaving them for the long hours in the city that my background as a Director of Marketing required, nor could I imagine giving up the passion I had for the company I had just started.
The Sailing terminology I learned at the Olympic Circle Sailing Club taught me the language I needed, and I decided to stay the course.
I committed myself 100% to Ocean SF, and stayed the course I had previously set. I had worked for many startups in the past, and I knew what would be required of me, and that it would be far from easy. It would take everything I had to give, and then some, but if I had to work around the clock at least I would be close to home, and as my own boss, I could prioritize my time.
Today, I attended a summit for entrepreneurs in SF as the guest of UBS, and there I met Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite. Among other things, Julia raised 200 Million in capital for a recent acquisition. Julia was, smart, funny, beautiful, and inspiring. What a difference a year makes.
Love and blessings to all.
Over the weekend, I was on the Race Committee for the Express 37 Nationals.
I started doing Race Committee when my friend, Tom Nemeth volunteered me last summer for the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals, and it’s proven addictive.
I’ve crewed a few races, but prefer the vantage point and perspective, of the Race Committee boat. I love to see firsthand the passion and dermination exhibited by each crew and boat as they compete.
The Race Committee boat is typically comfortable and well stocked, and the company excellent. There is plenty of time to socialize, and I am typically surrounded by past Commadores and sailors with much experience and many crossings, and the stories to match.
My job is usually to check in the sailboats before each race, because of this I am able to learn their names and can identify each one at a distance by the color of the boat and sails.
The sailboats come sometimes just feet from the Race Committee boat, and their skill in maneuvering such a large craft with so many variables and people elegantly balanced on deck is just short of miraculous. It’s evident that it’s taken years of training and experience on the water to be able to do this. The tacticians who compete at this level are highly skilled. Being comparatively new to sailing, it took some getting used to, but now I am relaxed and confident as the boats glide inches from our boat and each other as they check in, and get in the most advantageous position for the start of each race.
We were on a Nordic Tug boat, which alone was a novelty, the races however, were exciting, and unpredictable with several false starts and a few postponements. There were several upsets, and everyone was surprised when our BYC home boat, Stewball failed to win race 6, however, the competition was fierce, and a wonderful time was had by all as the winds were perfect for a yacht race.
Expeditious, and skipper Bartz Schneider, of San Francisco Yacht Club, won the regatta, but it was very close.
I was happy to see several more women sailors then usual, and I made a few new friends, and deepened ties with the people I already knew.
As I sat on the upper deck in the sunshine watching the sailboats come in, I realized, I am living the future I had so desperately wished and planned for these many monthswith the same spirit of preparation and determination.
Love and blessings to all.
Finding your purpose is no easy task. Often, people ask me how I found my passion for making Sailing Apparel, or even just sailing in general, and I have to say, it wasn’t easy.
I always knew I was a writer, this was not something I needed to become, it’s what I’ve always been. I was told throughout high school and college how gifted I was in this area, but I’m very outgoing, so I could never imagine myself sitting alone and just writing. And also, I loved fashion, and I absolutely love to paint.
Once, when I was still raising my family, a close friend of mine asked, “What are you going to do next? you have such varied talents.” It was true, having many interests, and choosing one was a major challenge that held me back for a long time.
When I was in high school, I painted a photograph from an ad in Vogue Magazine. At the time, I had many offers to model, and I did model often, but I wanted to prove my intellect instead, so this line of work didn’t interest me at all. But,I adored Vogue and had a magazine subscription. It influenced me so much, that I wore Joy perfume, and a Cartier watch for many years.
Recently, I pulled out this painting to show my daughter, and I left it sitting on an easel in my dining room. During a strategy meeting at my home, for Ocean SF, I was sitting across from this painting, and thought – all of this makes perfect sense. My love of fashion, and the outdoors, combined with my marketing background, and my writing ability; all of these go together and have placed me here.
I always wanted to sail. I started in Portland on the Willamette River in my very early 20’s, then I moved to SF, where I would drive across the Bridges and wish I could be on one of the beautiful sail boats below, but I fell in love with a golfer, and we did that instead.
As my family grew, I remembered this dream, and when I had more time, I fit a class into my busy schedule. I can’t say that I knew right away, the first days I was very sea sick, but I followed the bread crumbs of joy, and didn’t give up.
Today, I have a boat in slip 212 at Berkeley Marina, and the Berkeley Yacht Club is my second home. I’m on Race Committee, which means I hoist the flags, when the whistle blows, to start the Yacht races.
Now, it all feels pretty obvious, I’ll design clothes, and write every morning, I’ll paint when I have the time, and I’ll sail and ski. It’s amazing it took so long to see this.
I can’t tell you how lucky I feel.
Find the thing you love that makes your heart pound, and do that.
Love and blessings to all.
As a wife and mother living in an affluent community, I wore many masks. This isn’t something I realized, or thought about at the time. I sought only to be appropriate in each situation. PTA mask, play group mask, country club mask, and so on.
There were places, naturally, where I was my true self, most notably while hiking or skiing in Tahoe, but often I was filling the expectations of my role as a wife and mother.
Two years ago, I started sailing. This was an antidote to my addiction to the outdoors, and spending time in the mountains, or more importantly in nature after my children no longer wished to leave their friends for weekends or holidays in Truckee. I understood this, and sought other outdoor activities that were closer to home. For a while I thought it could be horses, and I took riding lessons, but this didn’t give me the same sense of freedom. Then I found sailing.
Sailing has given me everything I could have ever asked for. No mask required, sailing is simply a merit based sport. No one cares what you look like, where you live, how old you are, the most important thing is the common love of the sea. This passion unites the most unusual of companions and creates unconventional friendships.
Last night, I was atthe Yacht Club, surrounded by friends looking out onto the Bay. My friend, and I sat with a globe, and he explained to me how the winds move around the world. And, I was enthralled. That’s all I can say. Enthralled.
Love and blessings to all.