Two Port Jefferson Station brothers used quarantine to create something special — a new clothing brand they’re calling Anchor East.
Phil and Patrick O’Brien are finalizing the unisex T-shirt, hoodie and hat brand that could create a community of people who love Long Island, by aligning their platform with several causes.
Born and raised in Port Jeff Station, the family became integrated in the community, also owning O’Brien Insurance Agency on Main Street in the village. Phil, now an insurance agent, works out of the offices that his father started up there nearly 15 years ago.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in March, he was at home with a lot of free time.
Like many throughout the COVID crisis, he decided to start dabbling in a hobby — graphic design.
He began throwing around ideas with his brother about things he always wanted to accomplish — one of them being to create an apparel brand.
“I wanted to make something that was a very local thing that all the locals know about,” he said.
His brother, Patrick, got let go from his employer at the same time, so that’s when the two decided they could “make something good out of a bad situation.” They called Anchor East their passion project.
“We’ve always wanted to work together and now it was almost like we had a clean slate,” Phil said. “The way that everything came together was just so organic. He’s my best friend and having the opportunity to work together, while also giving back, is important to both of us.”
It isn’t about making money, Phil said. They are choosing to give back to two different groups from the proceeds of their sales.
Growing up, Patrick was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, so he knew that he’d want to donate to diabetes associations and research.
“My entire life, the things that were important to me were the companies that would donate or do something in return, which back then obviously, wasn’t many,” he said. “So, us being able to create a company to do that for me and my story was crucial.”
But their charity doesn’t stop there. Both brothers grew up on the water, and are raising their kids there, too. They said they want Anchor East to become a movement, where people in the community can come together and clean up local beaches — like Pirate’s Cove, which they frequent with their family.
“We have this local company now that people can see,” Phil said. “We’re here to help and we want to give back. We want to clean up the local beaches because this is our home.”
They said they’d like for their beach cleanups to become an annual and well-known event every summer. They’re also hoping to open up a storefront for the brand Down Port.
“I think that’s really important to us,” Phil said. “Being a part of the community, specifically Port Jeff, where we were born and raised.”
Patrick now lives in Coram. Phil is raising his family in Port Jeff Station, and his wife is a teacher at Port Jefferson high school.
“Between the beach cleanups and the diabetes associations that we want to work with, I think that we have something really special, and it’s something that we’ve talked about that we would love to give to our children one day,” Phil said. “We want them to see how important it is to give back when you’re in a position to do so.”
Patrick said that since they began the project early in quarantine, they haven’t stopped planning.
“Doing something like this with my brother, someone who I trust and love more than anything in the world, with the mission that we have was an explosion,” he said. “We haven’t stopped since March.”
Their planning for Anchor East was full-speed ahead in July, when the duo spent the summer working on different designs and logos. On Jan. 18, they launched their social media accounts, teasing what merchandise would soon be released.
The brand’s website is now being finalized. Anchor East is expected to have a spring opening.
“Showing people that we care, we want to clean up our beaches, take a step forward to make a difference, and to be able to give back to my disease which hundreds of thousands of people around the world are dealing with,” Patrick said, “We want to show them this is our mission and we’re not doing this for a paycheck. We’re doing it for the benefit of Long Island.”
Anchor East will be launching soon, but for now you can keep an eye out on their brand by following them on Instagram @AnchorEast or on Facebook.