His job at Target was to identify cool people in sports, music, and entertainment for the retailer to align with. Heady stuff for a 20-something. But as 30 approached, O’Brien started thinking about the true dream of his generation: starting his own thing, which he did.
Search and State is fashion-driven, high-performance cycling gear manufactured in New York. O’Brien handles the business and marketing side from a desk at CoCo, the co-working space in Uptown. He and his New York–based design partner are serious cyclists and saw “tremendous opportunity in the space” as biking continues to grow in popularity. Their first product was a cycling jacket: all black, no logo, made of breathable, waterproof fabric with a top-of-the-line zipper. It caught the attention of some influential national style blogs, and the orders followed. Search and State is now sold in nearly 20 stores worldwide (including Angry Catfish Bicycle + Coffee Bar in Minneapolis). The brand is especially popular in Japan and Australia.
O’Brien, a new dad, left Target just a few months ago to really give the brand a go. It’s scary, and exhilarating, he says. “It’s not about trend. It’s about making things that are super functional and durable. When I buy something, I want to commit to it for a while.”
That’s a satisfying day at the office.
"I'M A MINNESOTA GUY. I WAS WEARING FILSON FOR PHEASANT HUNTING WHEN I WAS 16. THEN IT GOT TRENDY."
On weekends, you’ll find him antique shopping with his wife, or browsing for bikes at Angry Catfish and fly fishing gear around the corner at Mend Provisions. But when it comes to clothes, shopping is a “need-based situation” for O’Brien. Levi’s are a staple. T-shirts generally represent places he’s been or brands he wants to support. And that about sums up the entrepreneur’s work uniform. But when it’s time for a new woven shirt, O’Brien heads to BlackBlue. For something fancy, he shops Heimie’s Haberdashery