Changemakers: Lynne O’Brien, Line in the Sand

Changemakers

A cancer diagnosis became the unlikely push one attorney needed to become an entrepreneur in a field she was unfamiliar with — retail — with the goal in mind of helping women like herself.

Lynne O’Brien always felt energized spending time on the water with her friends and family. Then, about nine years ago, her world was “rocked apart” when she received a leukemia diagnosis — and the bombshells didn’t stop there.

“A few months later, the doctor said ‘Oh, and by the way, you can’t really go in the sun. You’re much more prone now to melanoma,'” O’Brien recalled to PIX11’s Tamsen Fadal. “My favorite thing in the world is to be out on the water … I was devastated.”

O’Brien searched around the world for protective, waterproof clothing, but had a hard time finding something comfortable and stylish. So, unsatisfied with what was already available, she took matters into her own hands.

A lawyer by training, she didn’t know much about retail before launching her own business. In the end, she said that ended up being a good thing.

“I just went in with a vision,” O’Brien said, “and I thought what I really wanted to do is make a difference.”

The swimwear company’s name — Line in the Sand — came to her in the middle of the night.

“I thought ‘We have to take a stand and just hop in the water,'” O’Brien said. “And let’s draw a line in the sand and give back to the oceans and give back to cancer.”

More than just a name, Line in the Sand is representative of O’Brien’s mission. Her passion for the ocean and sustainability is literally woven into the fabric of the company. The company’s items are made from recycled materials, which are sourced from Italy.

Additionally, all of Line in the Sand’s profits are donated to organizations focused on ocean preservation or cancer prevention and treatment. Currently, the brand partners with charities including Oceana and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

O’Brien also knew that she wanted to manufacture her products in New York City’s Garment District, and was able to connect with fashion designer Kay Unger, who also serves as the business’s creative advisor.

Overall, O’Brien told PIX11 that she is thrilled to produce clothing for other water-loving women while supporting causes that are so dear to her.

“There are silver linings to having cancer, and this is one of them,” she said. “I would never be doing this is I didn’t realize the need for it.”

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