Boyfriends, Mountain Tops & Being an Environmentalist

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Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon 1986

My high school boyfriend taught me how to ski by throwing me down the face of Mt. Bachelor. He took me down a treacherous black diamond trail, ironically called Texas, that ran from the top of that mountain straight down to the Lodge. It was one of the most terrifying episodes of my life, but I soon mastered the basics and was hooked.

At Oregon State, my then boyfriend, took me on a ski trip my freshman year. There was nothing about it that I didn’t like. I loved spending time in the cabin with friends, skiing all day with the snow falling, and sitting at the top eating lunch overlooking a vast and pristine valley.

Many ski trips followed, including one to Whistler, Canada with my Alpha Phi Big Sis Susie White, also an avid skier.  We could not of had more fun.

I didn’t think of myself as an environmentalist then.  I only knew that I loved nature.  And there wasn’t anything I enjoyed more than skiing down a snowy mountain with the people I loved.  I realize that what I valued most was the serene and unspoiled beauty of these landscapes.  I was blessed to be able to share this love with my own children who spent the majority of their childhood in Lake Tahoe, winter and summer, either skiing, hiking, or paddle boarding.

When I found sailing, I felt the same way about it.  I love the beauty of the ocean, the gorgeous Islands that sit off of San Francisco, the inlets around Tiburon and the incomparable beauty of sitting on a boat as the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge. These settings and the people I am with have combined to create some of the most priceless moments of my life. So, that is why I am an environmentalist.  I think in many ways, we all are environmentalist, we have to be, it is no longer a hobby, but a necessity of this life.

The Trident Project, our nonprofit, has an Ocean clean up scheduled for the end of January, 2018.  We will be partnering with Save The Bay, and will provide an environmental education component geared toward the elimination of plastic usage, as well as a clean up effort to remove plastic and other garbage from San Francisco Bay (I will share more as we get closer to the date).

Along with all the other environmentalists, or nature lovers, I will dedicate my life to preserving these beautiful places for the people I love, my own children, and all the children that come after them. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my life.

Love and blessings to all.

Whoever Said it Was Easy Must of Had it Pretty Good

The life of an entrepreneur is wrought with untold obstacles, stress, and fight or flight inducing fear. If this were easy, then everyone would be doing it.

I’ve worked for four start ups, all of them successful, but I took note of the downfalls, the set backs, and the inherent doubt and confusion involved. So, I knew exactly what I was getting into when I started Ocean SF, but the lure of following my own dream, making a meaningful mark on the world, and being my true authentic self was too great. Safety and security and a known path in life can be beautiful, and I’ve done that as well, but stepping onto an unknown path is another matter all together. Taking this risk has summoned my upmost courage.

From the beginning, the obstacles along the way have not deterred, or surprised me. I expected them quite honestly, and regardless, I continued on knowing in my heart that I was on the right path, and there was no turning back.

Now, the fabric that we went to hell and back to manufacture has shipped. We looked all over the world for this fabric from LA, to NYC, to Italy, France, China and Bangladesh. We had everyone looking for it, and we rejected countless samples. Finally, we had no choice, but to acquiesce, and mill it our selves in our custom colors, most significantly Safety Orange. It took four solid months! Believe it or not, you can’t buy sustainable wool fleece, not like ours and not anywhere in the world. You can buy polyester fleece all day long for cents on the dollar, but it pollutes drinking water, and does not keep sailors, or anyone else warm if it gets wet. There is nothing like it for performance outdoors.

Our fabric is custom milled for Ocean SF of 100% Merino wool. The exterior is tightly woven to keep the wind out, the soft interior to keep you warm, while regulating body heat. Anyone can wear it for any sport. It’s beautiful, machine washable, and so on.

I’ve been conducting focus groups. And no surprise, everyone who sees our jackets, touches the fabric and tries it on absolutely loves it. Thank goodness!

To see the light at the end of the tunnel finally, feels so good. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. Follow your dreams people! Find what makes your heart pound and do that.

Love and blessings to all.

Small Town

From Sanctuary with the Ocean SF crew

When I first moved to the Bay Area and began working for Bank of America as a Systems Analyst, my boss, a Sr. Vice President at the time, told me, “Sydney, San Francisco might look big, but it’s a small town, don’t burn any bridges.”She’s long since retired, but a trip through my LinkedIn account confirms her wise words. We are all connected here. Even before LinkedIn became a part of our lexicon, I experienced this. All of the Wells people had formerly worked at Bank of America, all of the Voice Over IP employees had worked together at AT&T or Pacbell. Everyone knew everyone. As tech took over employees were tapped from these industries, or they formed their own start ups, and worked together again. I would get calls from people I had worked with years before to join them again.

It was always important to me, that I worked hard and maintained my excellent reputation, so I could return to my consulting practice as was necessary while I raised my family. Luckily, I never really stopped working, and I’ve gained friends and contacts galore along the way.

Now, I have my own company, Ocean SF, and if I need anything, I have a rich network to call on, and the reverse is also true. I’m always here to help my students, friends, and colleagues as they start businesses or change careers. I’m willing to help in anyway possible. This is the culture I have lived in for most of my adult life, and I’m very proud to call this my home.

In the Bay Area, it’s how we do business, we connect with and help each other, no wonder LinkedIn (click to read their history) was founded here. Of course they tapped their friends from PayPal and other networks, in the same way my friends; Craig Nomura, Mike Hession and Seth Freeman, experts in their disciplines have joined Ocean SF to form our Advisory Board.

As always, thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way.

Love and blessings to all.

Big Vision

OceanSF Spring 2017-7

I’ve been told many times that I am a visionary. And it’s true, I can see things in my mind before I create them.

When we were in the early stages of planning our launch of Ocean SF, I could see my daughter standing in the red jacket with the Golden Gate Bridge behind her.  I could see it in my mind; the ruby red, her dark hair, the fog and the bridge.  I knew exactly how it would look, and predicted the atmosphere of that cold January day.

On the day my friend Nick Firestone took the photos, everything magically fell into place.  Nick, being the kind soul that he is drove all the way from Half Moon Bay to meet us.  As we pulled in and parked, I could see Nick walking toward me.  We literally took 100 shots in an hour and they were all beautiful.

My daughter and Nick Firestone, Marin County, January 2017

After, we went to lunch in Sausalito at a resteraunt called, Napa Valley Burger Company. I’ve noticed in my life that the things that happen easily come with a certain blessing. Anything, I have tried to force or control has backfired. The things that I approach with diligent planning, but a hopeful calm come easily into fruition.

Siena and Nick, Napa Valley Burger Company

From the beginning I’ve held a big vision for Ocean SF, as has my co-founder Andrew LaCenere.  We have taken our time creating our brand.  It took us an entire year to research, evaluate and then custom mill our own fabric.  We did eight months of research and testing before deciding on the Merino wool fleece that we now use.  The weave is tight on the exterior to block the wind, and soft and fuzzy on the inside to trap warmth.  We tested the men’s jacket for six months offshore and inshore on three continents.  This is not so much a company as it is a calling.

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy, there have been days when I wanted to turn back and do something easy and safe, but instead persisted in building our vision and our brand.  It has slowly taken shape with the help of our many friends, family and trusted advisors.

There is no way to play it safe in this life.  We may think we are safe, but we are not. Create your own vision, see it in your mind, and make it as big and beautiful as you can.

Love and blessings to all.

 

 

Suddenly It All Changes

Claremont Hotel, Berkeley, California

I’ve been praying for peace and tranquility for so long that it is a reflex. I do it in the car at the red lights, while brushing my teeth, or even just rushing down the stairs on my way out the door in the morning.

On Friday, Paris came home for the weekend. I picked her up from the airport and when she got in the car, I said, “tell me everything.”

A few days before, I could feel a definite shift. The light was brighter and all of the edges had sharpened as if coming into focus. The colors had softened to blue, white and yellow.

The clouds hung gently over the San Francisco Bay as I exited the Caldecott Tunnel. I could see the view of Treasure Island and San Francisco magically laid out before me. I was on my way to meet my business partner for martinis and oysters at the Clairemont Hotel to celebrate our progress with Ocean SF.

We sat outside in the warm sunshine and looked toward to city. The sky was a perfect cerulean blue, and everything had a freshness like I had never seen before. Andrew, wore a blue and white striped shirt and I could see the reflection of myself in his mirrored sunglasses. It was one of those rare moments in life where you feel perfectly content as if everything lay in front of you, and nothing behind.

I have become an observer in my own life over the past year. I like to watch how things unfold. Truthfully, I am not always calm while doing this, and people close to me have witnessed some of the moments when I am out of sorts with my circumstances, but it’s a practice to allow change and not resist it.

When we got home from the airport, Paris sat on the kitchen counter and talked as I made dinner. She is someone who is excited about ideas and exudes passion as she speaks. She is a whirl of philosophies, personalities, topics and opinions. As I watched her face, I could see she is maturing. Her eyes are a deeper blue, and her smile is a smile beneath a smile, that of a young woman, and no longer of a girl.

Change can be excruciatingly slow. Then, one day you are there.

In my 20’s I was stunned and amazed to be sitting on a train in England wearing a herringbone coat traveling toward my first economics class at the University of London. It took ten months to apply, and work toward that goal, but I eventually arrived, and the long rain soaked days at Oregon State University became just a memory.

When Paris was home, we had a dozen people for dinner. We sat in our formal dining room among friends and candle light, everyone was laughing.  It felt as if it had always been this way.

Love and blessings to all.