A passion for community and coastal living inspired a Kingston couple to create 3N3 Apparel and the Salty Harbor Shop.
By Kate Sheehan
As the summer season kicked off in July—a mere four months into a global pandemic—Brandi and Jared Waitkus made the unlikely choice to leap into entrepreneurship by launching a boating-inspired apparel and accessories business, 3N3 Apparel.
For Brandi Waitkus, a pediatric dental hygienist who found herself furloughed during lockdown, it was perfect timing. “If the pandemic didn’t happen, we might never have started this business,” she says.
The seeds for 3N3 Apparel were planted years earlier. In 2018, Jared designed a batch of custom hats with a 3N3 logo for a group of friends who shared a love for boating.
“3N3 is an easy way to remember the time frame in which you can safely enter and exit the Kingston waterways by boat—three hours before and three hours after high tide,” explains Jared. It’s an uncomplicated concept that reflects the couple’s mission to keep things simple and revel in the breathtaking beauty of coastal life.
As the Waitkuses adjusted to life in lockdown with their three children, they found themselves dreaming of being on the water once again. They began creating a few niche items designed to appeal to fellow in-the-know Kingston residents—products emblazoned with “3N3,” and words like “Ah-Dee-Nah,” (a local landmark for boaters) and “move ovah, plovah” (a cheeky reference to the protected shore birds whose nesting habits wreak havoc for over-sand vehicle owners).
The couple soon expanded their offerings to include more coastal designs, including a wave, shark, octopus, and “local love” design, all hand-drawn by Jared.
Fueled by online screen printing tutorials and with the help of a used printing press, they converted their basement into a production space. “It allows us to print whatever color and design options people want more easily,” says Jared.
The Waitkus’ passion for boating and their local community has inspired a range of apparel and stylish accessories. From relaxed T-shirts and sweatshirts to cozy blankets and beach-friendly drinkware, there is something for everyone. They also offer handmade rope bracelets—some named for local landmarks and others finished with whipping twine—that are all secured with nautical knots.
Brandi takes pride in bringing the 3N3 ethos to life through the brand’s digital channels while Jared is the creative force. He enjoys the process of experimenting with different art mediums. “I started years ago with watercolors, and they sat on the shelf for a while until Brandi suggested that I pair them with some of my drawings,” he says. The result is a collection of unique and colorful die-cut stickers with lobsters, whales and other designs.
The positive response to their work has encouraged the couple to expand their offerings. “During the pandemic, people have been moving away from Amazon and instead are really supporting local makers,” says Brandi. “Community is everything.”
In February, the duo introduced their newest project: Salty Harbor Shop, a source for locally made and coastally inspired goods, including (of course) 3N3 Apparel. Their plan is to eventually find a brick-and-mortar space for the Salty Harbor Shop, but in the meantime they operate through an online marketplace. Shoppers can find makers from across the South Shore and Cape Cod, including Duxbury Saltworks, The Oyster Bag, Miss Lou Makes, Snowy Owl Coffee, Kate Wilkins Art, Doggspot Designs and more.
“It’s really exciting, and a bit daunting,” says Brandi, “but it doesn’t feel like work because we love it.”