Marin, Tim Parr & Caddis

Being your own boss has many benefits, one of them is meeting up with interesting people in beautiful places. Today, in Marin, I sit outside in the sunshine having lunch with the legendary Tim Parr, who’s been a driver behind iconic brands like Patagonia, Kona, and L.L. Bean to name just a few.

He’s just launched another company called Caddis, an eyewear company. It’s all about lifestyle, check out their Architects and Custodians page here, it’s about creating change, generating ideas, and spawning creativity.

I’ve been trying to get a meeting with him since last summer, after an introduction by mutual friends, the Finegold’s of Tart, as he is very experienced in working with Merino wool. It was certainly worth the wait. He gave me some great advise for Ocean SF, aside from reassuring me that we were on the right track; he advised we take our time, and make the highest quality product possible. It will take as long as it takes. True that.

We’ve taken a great deal of time to create a sustainable product that is both beautiful and environmentally responsible, and after a year and a half of working diligently, orders will begin shipping in the next few weeks.

It’s been a journey, with many twists and turns along the way, but ultimately there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a vision you created with friends on a sailboat come to fruition. This is something Tim Parr completely understands.

What an inspiring guy. And he bought me lunch. What’s not to love?

Check out his company at caddislife.com.

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.

Calling All Angels

Enter the world of Ocean SF, our beautiful, chic, environmentally sophisticated clothing company targeting the affluent American sailing market, plus all our fellow adventure seekers!

We are raising capital to expand our clothing line beyond our popular sustainable signature jacket made with our custom milled 100% Merino wool to include silk, linen, cashmere, and cotton casual apparel for all outdoor activities on and off shore.

We are opening our first round for friends and family with only a minimum investment of $5,000.

Angels can contact me personally, or via our webstore at oceansf.co, or at hello@oceansf.co. We will put you in contact with our financial advisor who will fill you in on all details.

Love and blessings to all.

You Are My Sunshine

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.

Chaos Theory, Love & Business

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.

Read more: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/management/Bun-Comp/Chaos-Theory.html#ixzz4yY2mFqlg

Yacht Racing and The Midwinters

Aboard the Bobbi Tossi

I joined the Race Committee in July of 2016. Yachting is not what you think, but simply a group of people who love the water, sailing and competitive sports.

It’s a cross between golfing and skiing. The people are down to earth like my fellow all-walks-of-life ski and snow board buddies, from my ski instructor days in Tahoe. Racing is similar to golfing as rules and handicaps apply, and mean that even if you win the race, you might not win the race.

The people are young and old, and from all over the world, with an incredible array of personalities and politics.

On Saturday, I was on the Mark Set boat, to set the race course before the race. We traveled a mile out and dropped a buoy with an anchor and then headed a mile down wind to set the second and watch the race. At lunchtime, we joined the rest of the committee on the committee boat sitting in the sunshine eating sandwiches, chips and dip, and lots of cookies. Sailors like cookies it appears.

I spent the entire day on the water in the sun and wind. Afterwards, the Race Committee convened to the bar. I changed out of my foulies, and looked in the mirror, my eyes were an even clearer blue green then they were before. There is always this feeling of lightness in the air near the water.

From the Yacht Club, I watch the sun go down, and sit with Bobbi and John, and talk about their nine PAC Cup races to Hawaii. Then, my friends join me, and we leave together to go to dinner.

A day like this is a cure for almost anything. I woke up this morning with a sense of happiness, grace, and gratitude.

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.

Yoga & Healing Trauma & Finding Balance. 

I went back to yoga after a several year hiatus. I started six years ago at a studio in Walnut Creek. At the time, I knew I needed more self care, and it was a start.

It was the first time in my adult life that I became aware of my body as an observer. I would watch my hands as I planked, or watch my knees and ankles to ensure my bones were perfectly aligned. I was instantly good at it. My first class was a level two and I went through the motions with ease. Those classes were an hour and a half long, and the entire process of finding parking in Walnut Creek and so on, took almost three hours, or the entire morning.

It was a commitment to myself that I quickly gave up as the demands of my family intervened that first summer, making doing anything for myself, an impossibility. People have the illusion stay-at-home-mothers have all the time in the world, but they do not. They are staffing hot lunch, or organizing the back to school cake walk, or driving carpool for the volleyball team, or having kids over after school.  Finding time for yoga was priority #25, or lower in those days. After that first winter of going regularly, I went only periodically, if at all.

Last summer, I broke my wrist, but I promised myself I would return to yogo when I had healed. This week I took my first class from Esther at Humble Yoga. With my business partner in Montreal, I had a little more time, and more flexibility.

It’s been a stressful time in my life. Some of that stress was negative, and I had to dig deep to with grace handle the demands on me, now however, those demands are mostly positive. Having to meet with large banks who are interested in my company, or going to events where I meet tech billionaires increased my blood pressure like you would not believe.

Staying up all night preparing decks was just part of it, even deciding what to wear tested my cortisol levels. As an environmentalist, I didn’t want to go buy anything new. It seemed an oxymoron to pitch a sustainable clothing company wearing a polyester dress made in China. So, I went to the consignment store and bought a vintage dress by American designer Nanette Lepore. It was not cheap either. It was black, sleeveless and beautifully tailored, perfect for the warm October day.

This particular meeting went well, but all of it landed me by the end of October deeply depleted. I did all of the things I usually do in times of stress. I carved out time to be alone, I stayed home instead of going out. I walked my dog in serene settings, I cleaned up my diet and lowered my caffeine intake, I went to church, and yet even sleeping was stressful. I would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep. Then, because I would be afraid I would wake up, and not be able to go back to sleep, I couldn’t fall asleep.

Recently, I read that yoga heals trauma. They are teaching it in prisons and it’s having an enormously positive impact. It teaches so many good things, to breath oxygen into every part of our being is not even the most beneficial aspect, it teaches awareness and the ability to control the mind body continuum. Trauma is trapped in the body and yoga, studies show, is the antidote to releasing it.

As a single mother trying to support my family, I still feel guilty taking this time out for myself. But, when Esther asked our class to think about why we were there, the dominant thought I had was to find balance. After three classes, I do feel more balanced. I also feel rested and relaxed. If I can heal the trauma of the last year or so, that would be an added bonus.

Namaste.

Love and blessings to all. 

Interuption

My daughter Paris in Ocean SF

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 our 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. 

June 2016, Alcatraz

In entrepreneurial circles there is much talk of interrupting certain industries, or changing the world. Andrew and I simply want to make technical adventure clothing that aligns with our 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. 

Earlier that spring, Andrew and I met at our club in Berkeley with a roll of butcher paper and a package of pens. We outlined our products, he drew them, and together we gave them names. 

In one corner, we listed all of the possible names for our company. I remember we liked the name Hook, but passed on it, and thank goodness. We brainstormed dozens of idiotic names until Ocean SF arrived from the ether. As soon as we added it to the list, we knew it held a certain je ne sais quoi that the others did not. 

From the very beginning the brand had its own personality, and everyone we 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.

Love and blessings to all. 

Three Small Things

Stress is a constant theme that surrounds me now, with a daughter in high school and another in college and a business to run, my days are a whirlwind of activities, demands and deadlines. 

I’m often called on to council my children and friends on this topic, so I wanted to share my own wisdom on how to breakdown tasks into reasonable pieces and remain calm as the bombs explode and the bullets fly during times of stress and challenge. 

After my late husband died, my life was blown into a million pieces, not just for myself, but for my children, our extended family, and my husband’s close friends, employees and colleagues. My husband’s offices were permanently closed after his death as he was the dominant force and impossible to replace, so I was not alone in having my world fall apart that one morning in mid-July. 

The pain in the eyes, faces, and voices of the tribe that my husband had developed over the last thirty years was astounding. I’ve never seen so many grown men cry, and hope to never again. 

During this time, I began a practice that I continue to this day. Each morning, before I start my day, I pray for guidance and ask for the top three things I need to do that day.  

This helps me to breakdown the thousands of tasks into bite size pieces. The morning I got the call my husband had died, I had three things to do that day:

  1. Get dressed.
  2. Take the garbage out. 
  3. Tell my daughters their father was dead.

After I did these three things everything else was less difficult; call my in-laws, the coroner, the funeral home, and so on.

The second day, the list was less insurmountable. Go to Santa Maria Church to plan the funeral, comfort my children, call my sorority sisters.

Life is a series of challenges. It is not what happens to us, but how we face the inevitable obstacles inherent in living a rich full life, that will define our future. 

Today, my days are full of activities that move me closer to my goals. They are mostly positive, proactive, and enjoyable. This morning, my list looked like this:

  1. Get the Ocean SF deck and business plan to the people we met with yesterday. 
  2. Meet my friend Denise for lunch.
  3. Buy my injured daughter nail polish and Kit Kat bars as promised.

Of course, I did a million other things as well,  and most of them before noon, but that was the top three that were the priority. 

Choosing how and where we spend our time and energy in life is of the upmost importance. Our lives are truly valuable and where we put our focus is precious because our attention is the sunshine that makes the seeds we plant grow. 

The three small things I tasked myself with each day, over the last fourteen months, helped me to get through a harrowing year, while simultaneously building an amazing company and brand.

Love and blessings to all.