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.

Addicted to Plastic 

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.

 

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.

 

 

My Charmed Childhood & Chinese Chicken Salad

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The Sideboard Kitchen, Danville, California

If you read my book, Real Food (Amazon), there are many references to my charmed childhood growing up on a farm in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon, and as with many people, the older I get, the more I appreciate my roots and my life there.

My mother was a complete and total “foodie” twenty years before the term was coined. She was the epitome of fresh, organic and sustainable.  All of our food came from our land.  I had my first Twinkie in fifth grade.

My mother grew up in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada (below Iceland).  It’s tundra, so very little grows there.   My father had grown up on a cash crop farm in Illinois, so they were from very different backgrounds and he was 14 years her senior.  They met when he was working with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) for the Department of Defense during the cold war.  This is how my sister and I got our names as we both have the SAC initials.  They were married when she was 23 and he was 37.  They moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked for the Pentagon, and then to Nurnberg, Germany where he worked undercover for the CIA (and where I was a born), then he went to Vietnam, after the war they bought our farm and restored the 100 year old farmhouse where we lived.

They raised  race horses and my father taught history at the local college and coached the high school football and basketball teams.  My mother wore black silk cigarette pants with jeweled velvet slippers and invited the locals over for cocktail hour.   It was not unlike the T.V. show Green Acres.

When she wasn’t socializing with the neighboring farmers, my mother gardened, cooked, canned, baked and made jam.  She had a massive three acre garden full of tomatoes, lettuces, watermelon, strawberries and everything inbetween.  The black angus and lamb that roamed our fields eventually landed in a giant freezer, the size of a coffin, in our kitchen.  My father made wine.  There were orchards of peaches, apples, cherries and pears, and walnut and hazelnut trees, raspberry bushes and a blanket of mint around our pond.  Wisteria and hydrangeas, lilacs and honeysuckle graced the parameters of the historic house we lived in.  Our backyard was so big the grass was cut with a tractor.  White sheets blew in the breeze on the clothes line.  It was all wonderful.

As I watch the food scene evolve it reminds me of skipping through my mother’s garden on the farm and waiting for dinner to be ready.  This usually included a large garden salad dressed with just oil and vinegar, a T-bone steak the size of a dinner plate, and little else.

If you are in the area stop by the Sideboard Kitchen in Danville, owned by a local couple, their food is fresh and organic and very reminiscent of life on the farm.  They will be opening a second location in Lafayette where Squirrels used to be.  If not, here is my favorite recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad by the master, Bobby Flay, of the Food Network.  I substitute half of the romaine for kale and add cilantro like Sideboard, as pictured above.