Opinion

Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat

By Katelan Cunningham · December 28, 2015

The Ocean & Sea brand is grounded in its dream-chasing ethos: “to inspire a sense of wonder, adventure and fun.” Brendan O’Shaughnessy and his wife Amanda officially launched the lifestyle brand at the beginning of last year after a long search for their next adventure.

Brendan has always loved the instant gratification of screen printing his graphic design, so he started his first clothing line with some friends when he was just 17. Seven years later in 2012, he ran into some legal trademark issues and he decided it was time to start over with a clean slate. 

 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat

The brand name Ocean & Sea came about quite practically. Amanda is a kindergarten teacher and she used the words ocean and sea to phonetically break down her last name to her students. The name and the nautical theme really hit home for both of them — even though they live in Kansas City. Brendan said that the brand was an opportunity for them to start dreaming again. 

For the past couple years, Brendan and Amanda have been working backward from the brand name to live up to the inspirational message they’ve attached to it. They aren’t using the nautical theme as strict guideline. It's a jumping-off point. Something about seafaring imagery coming out of Kansas City is especially wistful. 

“For creativity, it's really helpful to have parameters, and so I think [the nautical theme] was an initial parameter.”

 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat
 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat

Brendan started Ocean & Sea with all the necessary trademarks and their (Addy award-winning) Daydreams project to build their brand, even before they had products to sell. 

Starting on January 1, 2014, he and Amanda started posting one new photo/design/doodle every day to build a following. Brendan said they wanted to make it an easy transition for their audience when they started selling clothes later that year. Now two years later, Ocean and Sea sells a line of over 50 products from original apparel to prints and home goods. 

 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat
 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat
BUILDING A BOAT


Brendan and Amanda wanted to start selling more of their goods directly instead of through boutiques so they can improve their profits, but a brick-and-mortar store didn’t fit their brand or their budget. So, they’re building a boat instead. 

Inspired by the wind wagons that used to “sail” the fields of Kansas City, Brendan and Amanda wanted to make a boat to serve as a mobile pop-up shop that they could drive around the country. Brendan admits that the idea was a little out there, but that’s what made it perfect for Ocean & Sea.

“It's one of those ideas that kind of sounds stupid and doesn't really make sense, but that's most of childhood. Most of our ideas as a child — they don't really make a whole lot of sense. And so in a way, it was a perfect representation of what we wanted to pull out of our people.”

 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat
 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat

They've made plans to build the boat with local custom fabrication studio, Second Life Studios. So far it's really resonated with people — so much so that the project raised $23,000 on Kickstarter. They will set sail across the country in early 2016, operating as a retail destination complete with some city-specific goods, their dog Flynn, and a fleet of shiny Lumi bags. Brendan said the sailboat will give them an opportunity to visit new markets, collaborate with other brands and artists, and start the next chapter of their story. 

 Ocean & Sea is Building an Actual Dream Boat

From their t-shirts to their boat, every Ocean & Sea product starts with their mission and is produced at the utmost quality, even if it means less profit. They're continuing to explore more tangible ways to embed their dreamy ethos into their brand and their nationwide tour. For Brendan and Amanda, it's about more than just selling nautical goods — it's about showing people that even dreams as crazy as a boat on wheels can really happen. 

To see how Ocean & Sea is making an impact and track progress on their boat, you can follow them on Instagram.

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