One Ocean One Love
After we stepped through the doors of One Ocean One Love’s Gloucester location, our conversation almost immediately went to one place: the day before our interview with Jamie Mathison, a pod of highly endangered right whales passed through Cape Ann. She managed to not only catch a glimpse of those whales once, but to chase them down a second time and also see humpbacks, that breached only twenty feet from where she stood, watching from shore.
The day before the whale sighting, she had fished out a plastic bag in the water while out paddleboarding, and it was filled with krill. “I looked down and the whole harbor was like that. It wasn’t just that one random bag. We didn’t know the whales were here yet, so the next morning I was like, that’s why they’re here!”
It’s difficult to separate Jamie from the ocean and its preservation—it’s woven into just about every aspect of her life. Her studio and second store, located right in the harbor at Gloucester, overlooks the docks, boats, and rocky coastline. On her days off, she goes paddleboarding or organizes and helms beach clean-ups. And on her work days, she is screen or block printing for her clothing and lifestyle brand, and all of her art and products reflect the ocean in some sense.
Jamie sits barefoot with her legs tucked under her in a cream-canvas chair. She is fully embracing the summer temperatures (she admits that in the winter, she doesn’t get out as much, although she does love snowboarding), and her store reflects her surfer-chic style: her blond hair and suntanned skin matches the southwestern-themed rug and throw-pillows, punk and reggae music, and Indian-inspired floor cushions in her store. Outside, there’s a brand-new deck, complete with a fire pit, standing bar, and wooden slatted table and chairs.
“This space is like my second home, now,” she explains. “Not just because I spend most of my time here, but I created it to be really comfortable for myself and for visitors who want to come and just hang out.”
Jamie’s desire to create community and connection between people and to raise awareness about caring for the environment and the ocean, specifically, began at a young age. “I knew I wanted to be a marine mammal trainer since I was a little, little kid. I don’t even remember not wanting to be one. But I also knew I wanted to do something art-related. But it was weird. I knew someday I wanted to be my own boss, but I really wanted to be a marine mammal trainer.”
She volunteered at the New England Aquarium for years, eventually working her way up to a full-time position as a seal and sea lion trainer. While it had been a dream job, it became difficult to continue doing her work there while also making ends meet. “I did it for a long time, and I still miss it,” she admits, “But I don’t miss commuting. I love getting to hang out with my dogs all the time. Especially now, one’s ten, and every day we go for a beach walk, or for a run in the woods. It was my dream job, but I fell out of love with it after a while, I guess is the best way to say it. And I fell more in love with this, just being my own boss is kind of nice.”
Balancing her aquarium job with bartending and having a schedule that involved long commutes, and both early mornings and late nights eventually drove her to reconsider her career. “I don’t know how I came up with the idea, but I was sitting on a beach in Laguna, on a vacation, and all of a sudden it struck me, to block print on tee shirts. And I was like, ‘Cool, that could be kind of fun.’ I’d done it before a little in college here and there but I never really thought, you know, of making it a career.”
And so, she did. One Ocean One Love as a brand embodies and is inspired by New England coastal life, and her products reflect that: Jamie blends natural preppy, oversized football shirts, comfy sweatshirts, tee shirts, tanks, and fitted baseball caps with images and designs inspired by the ocean. One Ocean’s logo of an ocean wave is on many of her products, but so are sharks, octopuses, and mantras like “This Planet Needs You to Give A Shit,” and “Save the World, Raise a Hippie.” Each piece is personally hand printed by Jamie herself, either by block print, or screen print, which she has recently started shifting into in order to more easily meet demand.
“We say our work’s inspired by the ocean’s beauty, our love for it, and our desire to protect it,” Jamie says. “But we sort of branched out from that a little bit. I love yoga, I love anything that’s positivity-related, so a lot of it’s yoga-inspired, some lifestyle inspired, vegetarian-based prints and stuff like that.”
“My ultimate goal was to have the company so successful that I can focus all of my attention on conservation and spreading awareness of why some of these things are important,” she says. “I started my business because of it. It wasn’t like it became a thing after the fact. But I live here, too.” She gestures out the bay window overlooking the harbor. “I see it, right here. And it’s hard not to be passionate about it when you spend all your time on the ocean.”
One Ocean gives 5% of its net profits towards ocean conservation, specifically focusing on purchasing ocean bins to put in various harbor locations in the Cape Ann area. “It’s like a pool skimmer, and it stays fixed to the dock, and it just has this suction, and it also pulls in oil and other pollutants and has an oil pad that can clean that up and send back clean water.” After receiving a grant from Patagonia, she and her local partners have been able to use the funds they’ve raised over the years to purchase two Seabins, one of which will be docked right outside One Ocean’s Gloucester location.
While being a socially conscious entrepreneur is central to her company, Jamie doesn’t want it to be the only motivation for her consumers. As she says, “It’s a big part of us, but we also don’t want to be like: ‘Buy from us because we give back!’ We don’t push it in people’s faces, by any means, but I think if you looked for it, you would find it.”
And that is what makes One Ocean so unique. This is a company whose products stand on their own merit, and yet Jamie manages to find a balance. She recently finished installing a blackboard behind the checkout counter of her Rockport location, the first shop she opened 3 years ago, that serves a dual-purpose in the same way her business does. We see the inspiration and the sweat and work behind One Ocean through a small screen that plays time-lapse footage of her screenprinting and block printing her designs. On the board itself, she has written out the brands One Ocean supports and explains how the store gives back towards conservation efforts. The tags on her clothing also reflect her company’s purpose and vision for the environment.
Despite the success she’s seen in her business and her conservation efforts, Jamie’s still taken a little by surprise when she sees one of her designs out in the wild, or is approached by someone who appreciates her work: “I saw someone running this morning, on the beach, that was wearing a shirt that I made... and I yelled, ‘Hey, love your shirt!’ and she’s like, ‘Thank you! I got it from…’ And I was like, ‘Cool, thanks!’ I didn’t even tell her.”
“And then lately a part that’s become cool is that people come up to me and thank me for the work that I’ve been doing. I don’t go out that often, so in the summertime I start going out more, to bars and restaurants, and people come up to me all the time, and I’m like, ‘Really? You know that I did this?’ It’s just cool, it’s a really cool feeling to see the original vision of what I intended for it to be starting to come into play in my business more and more."
For More Info:
47R Parker Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
Wednesday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm
6 Bearskin Neck
Rockport, MA 01966
Monday - Friday 11:00 - 6:00
Saturday, Sunday 10:00 - 6:00
Photography by: Rusty Kinnunen (except where noted)