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Transition, Work And Motherhood: Experts Only

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Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.

Sydney Chaney Thomas

Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.

Transition, Work & Motherhood
Moraga, Calif. 
April 12, 2019

A year ago I started my side hustles in order to continue to pursue my dream of sustainable sailing apparel. I’ve worked in kitchens and on food trucks, catered weddings and funerals, bottled boutique liquor, taught language arts, and worked at Treasure Festival directing traffic.

There is no better way to learn how to be an entrepreneur than to get in the trenches with people who are successful doing what they love. There are no short cuts and success comes only with determination and hard work. Last weekend I arrived at 5:30 a.m. to direct traffic for Treasure Festival. The vendors were lined up and waiting to set up their booths. I met the Ansanelli family in the dark to get my instructions and was given a map and schematic, and a flashlight. I was there for 12 hours that day, but the owners were there much longer. This is what it takes: everything you have and more. It takes working to the point of exhaustion and then working a little more.

When I started Ocean SF I had no idea what would be required of me. I didn’t know I would fall in love with it and become obsessed with it. It is truly like a child that I will never give up on and will do anything for. Luckily, I’m not the only one who feels this way and I’ve had a great deal of help and encouragement.

The Festival was a huge success, but it doesn’t just happen. It was carefully planned and expertly executed. On Sunday, I spent some time strolling through the festival, I ate spicy sliders, listened to live music, and bought a sign for Ocean SF. While walking I tried to see it through the eyes of the attendants for a change, as I’ve not done this before even though it was my eleventh month there. When I started, I promised my boss Chazz I would stay there for a year and I have. It’s taught me so much about following your dreams and making things happen.

Last week I took a few hours to ski. There is no place where I feel more at home than on the side of a mountain. It wasn’t that I wasn’t working I was answering emails on the lift and stopped on the trails when a text came in. This is now how I live my life. I set it up this way. At the top my friend took my picture. Only later did I read the sign behind me that marked the trail for experts only.

As I travel this road I understand there is no substitute for going into things deeply and with care. I’ve taught myself painstakingly how to run a business in minute detail. I’ve taught myself how to design and manufacture clothing. I’ve learned how to develop a pattern, have it graded and create a marker. It’s taken so much more time and attention to detail than I could have ever imagined.

In May of 2018 I moved production back to San Francisco and started over. I redesigned everything and am now again in production. It’s taken this long to build the strong foundation necessary to support my vision. Like skiing, you can’t ski the advanced runs until you become an expert.

It takes time, dedication, experience and hard work. You have to put the time in, educate yourself and with constant attention to detail continually work at it. Only then can you go to the top and take the advanced run down the backside.

Love and blessings to all.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Goodness Sydney… you’re truly an inspiration. A very encouraging reminder that with hard work and determination… following our dreams is so worth it.

    • @Danielle. Thank you for your comment. I’m enjoying my life and work. I think it’s always positive to get out of your comfort zone and following your dreams is a necessity!

  2. Going into business is hard hard hard and they never tell you how hard you will work – especially if you are your own boss!! I admire people who can do it and find a balance in their lives as well as some degree of success but it has to be hard, especially if you have children. With so many things that can go wrong it must seem like a slippery ski slope as you say!!! My hat is off to you if you can make it work!

    • Haha yes a very slippery ski slope! But worth it once it’s up and running. It’s been very rewarding so far, but I have a ways to go. Thank you for understanding the difficulty.

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