Maker City KC

Kansas City maker spotlight: 9 questions for Ocean & Sea founder Brendan O’Shaughnessy

Ocean & Sea is a Kansas City design and branding studio that specializes in nautical-inspired clothing.

Their products — everything from breezy tank tops to glassware, note cards and leather mousepads — are sold online and at the Made in KC Marketplace at 306 W. 47th St. on the Country Club Plaza.

Maker City KC recently caught up with Ocean & Sea owner and founder Brendan O’Shaughnessy.

1. What inspires you? I find that the best way to be inspired is to unplug.

When I can detach from expectations and the mundane rituals of life I discover that I start creating things that are more authentic. It also gives me confidence when I can create in a silo and discover after the fact that what I’ve made is marketable; I don’t always want to have trends direct all of my creative decisions.

2. Are makers doers or dreamers?

I think it varies from person to person. I know people who are highly talented, but are less ambitious when it comes to grandiose dreams and vice versa. I’ve known quite a few people who have had huge dreams and are unable to manifest because they lack the drive to execute. When someone is equipped with both characteristics, great things happen — but it’s certainly not required for a fulfilling career. Everyone has different goals so it’s imperative to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to realize any idea.


3. What invention / product do you wish you would have created?

One that immediately comes to mind is Ugmonk’s Gather, a desk organizer. It’s so simple and simultaneously complex, which makes it quite brilliant but more importantly extremely practical.

4. What is the worst invention/product still embraced by modern society?

Plastic. I understand the importance it has on, say, medical inventions but when someone chooses to drink water out of disposable bottles for their daily water intake that’s just plain lazy and quite harmful to the environment. A great alternative is to buy a high quality water bottle and reuse it everyday!

5. If you could sit down and have a drink with any person in your industry, who would it be and why?

That’s an easy one: Banksy, hands down. I admit he’s not quite in the same industry but I doubt he would even identify with an industry in the first place. He has utilized art in a way that transcends culture — often one step ahead of everyone else. I believe he is one of the most important living artists today.

6. What do you love most about the maker movement happening in Kansas City right now?

Above all else I love how it has and will continue to unite our city. Art and creativity is the single most important cultural ingredient for any growing vibrant city. Art and beauty gives us a reason to live, something to aspire to, and seldom is it given the respect it deserves.

7. Who or what is another maker in Kansas City that you’re impressed and inspired by?

Nickel & Suede has always been an inspiration for me. They’re a perfect example of what everyone should use as a model for success in a creative product-based company. They created a great original product and executed it with excellence. They also simultaneously found their target market which spans both locally and across the world. I want Kansas City to be known for originality that can be exported anywhere in the country. That’s my definition of impressive.

8. What Kansas City creation/icon best reflects our makers community?

Made in KC of course! They’re one of, if not the, biggest supporters of local makers. They offer many makers (including me) the ability to reach a much wider audience that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. I want my creativity to be my focus, not necessarily the brick and mortar aspect of retail, so it’s a perfect fit for what I’m doing with Ocean & Sea right now.


9. If you could ask people to do one thing to support the maker movement, what would it be?

Take a chance on some of the smaller companies if you see something that interests you. Those small purchases add up and make it possible to continue their journey. It certainly looks like some makers are making a lot of money from the outside but the reality is much more challenging than many think. Dollars are essentially like voting: every single one counts.

Follow Ocean & Sea on the web here: