No Longer a Novice

I met with my board member for an overview of my fundraising presentation the other day. During our conversation, over Zoom of course, he mentioned that I am no longer a novice. It’s hard to believe I’ve been working on my company Ocean SF for almost six years. This passion project has been incredibly stressful, Ive made so many mistakes and have been plagued with self doubt at every turn. Yet, I’ve stuck with it daily determined to make it into something special. Like an oasis in the desert I know somehow that we will get there and make Ocean SF the amazing company I know it will be.

Indeed, I have learned a great deal. I’ve even learned to sew. I have seamstresses in San Francisco who sew my jackets and prototypes. However, until now I’ve refused to sew myself. Even after inviting sailmaker Will Paxton over to teach me to sew I still resisted. We made little bags that I found charming, but after he left I packed it all up, and sold my sewing machine. I thought I can hire someone to do this, but in the back of my mind I knew that a clothing designer should know how to sew.

A year later Ainsley Woodford came into to my life. She has been my intern since August. She emailed me and volunteered to join the other six interns who would be rolling off to go back to school in September. Ainsley attends NYU studying fashion and sustainability. She brought over her sewing machines and we began making all sorts of things. I am especially talented at making tote bags out of carbon sails. But, I can make almost anything now.

It’s often said that it’s the journey that counts not the destination. Entrepreneurs know this especially because it takes everything you’ve got to keep going even when the journey is rife with strife. The vision of what you want to create propels you forward. The gift of the struggle is in how it changes you, and makes you everything you need to be; a tax accountant, a bookkeeper, a shipping agent, operations analyst, web designer, and so on. You watch yourself getting better and better at things you thought you could never do. And that is extremely gratifying.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to never give up. If there is one key to success it is that. Never. Give. Up.




Sydney is an entrepreneur, writer, artist and teacher. Founder of, a sustainable sailing apparel brand, see to read more.

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Sydney Chaney-Thomas

Sydney Chaney-Thomas

Sydney is an entrepreneur, writer, artist and teacher. Founder of, a sustainable sailing apparel brand, see to read more.

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