Sailing on the Prairie

Sailing on the Prairie


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Kansas City’s lack of a large body of water hasn’t stopped Brendan O’Shaughnessy from launching Ocean & Sea, a nautical clothing company with what he calls a “mid-coast twist.”

O’Shaughnessy describes Ocean & Sea as a clothing and lifestyle brand replete with everything from what you wear on your back to artwork that adorns your walls. There are more than 100 products in its line, ranging in price from $2 to $62.

Brendan and his wife Amanda formed the company in 2013, with the first product hitting store shelves in May 2014. The signature motif in Ocean & Sea’s line is the sailboat, but there are numerous designs reflecting the interests and inspirations of the O’Shaughnessys.

“The fun thing about the sailboat is we actually created a life-size sailboat through Kickstarter funding,” Brendan said. ”It was a way to be fun and inclusive.”

“I am mostly on the design side and Amanda is on the illustration side,” Brendan said. “We kick around ideas and whoever is the best to execute will do the design.”

Brendan said Ocean & Sea’s designs are whimsical and curated at the same time. Ocean & Sea occasionally will collaborate with other artists in the area as well as across the country.

“I want to be relevant to someone who has been sailing as well as someone who
has never been near sailing,” he said. “Ifind it is a challenge.”

Sailing to Success

Brendan is no stranger to the design and sailing world. An artist as a child, he had been involved in designing clothing since he was 17. He also grew up sailing in Michigan with both backgrounds evident in his current designs.

Brendan made his way to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to study art, continuing his journey to find his artistic voice. He learned photography, taught himself screen printing and then moved into graphic design. Earning a studio art degree in 2009, he concentrated on exhibitions
of his work before going to work as a graphic artist.

Amanda also attended UMKC, earning a studio art degree. She currently teaches classes at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and The Barstow School. Although she will continue teaching art full time this fall in the Blue Valley School District, she is an integral part of Ocean & Sea.

“She’s like a compass for us,” Brendan said.

How They’re Made and Sold

For production, Ocean & Sea partners with local screen printing company Seen Merch. Ocean & Sea works with about 10 manufacturers for the company’s other products. The company’s inventory and fulfillment operations take place from its Mission, Kan., office.

“I feel like made in the USA is important to control quality,” Brendan said. “We want to stimulate our local economy, and that’s why most of our manufacturers are in Kansas City. We are very committed to supporting our direct community.”

Ocean & Sea is carried in approximately a dozen Kansas City area stores. Ocean & Sea participates in pop-up shops at First Fridays and other locations across the city. Its products can also be found in boutiques, art galleries and coffee shops. About half
of its business comes through the company’s website.

What’s Next?

Ocean & Sea has experienced continuous growth since launching in 2014. The couple wants to get its merchandise into stores in other cities, including Chicago, in 2017. O’Shaughnessy plans to hire an employee to help out. One major step is on the horizon: “I definitely see a storefront in Kansas City for retail,” O’Shaughnessy said. He envisions opening stores in other cities in three years or so, but he ruled out franchising.

Written by

Ruth Baum Bigus is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.

Categories: KC Made It

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