Text by Elizabeth Czapski
Fresh out of graduate school in 2006 with degrees in architecture, Sara Fitzgerald O’Brien had dreams of a career designing shingled cottage-style homes. But when she and her now-husband, Miles, couldn’t find wedding stationery they connected with, she put her art minors to use and created her own. “By the time our wedding rolled around, I’d booked a bunch of clients—friends of friends or relatives who had seen our invitations,” Sara says. “Before I knew it, I was running a custom watercolor stationery business.”
She immersed herself in the industry and grew immensely as an artist while managing her studio, but about five years later, after her second son was born, she felt a longing to step back and spend the fleeting season with her babies. “Once my boys were in school, it felt right to jump back into something that at least resembled my old business,” Sara says. “I knew watercolor art would be the primary focus, and I’d continue to offer stationery, but I also wanted to bring in a home element—goods that people enjoyed on a daily basis, items that reflected their style while also celebrating New England, a place I’d never left and realized had become incredibly influential to me.”
Lacking fulfillment in his work in sales, Miles was also looking to make a career move at the time, so together, the husband-and-wife duo took a leap of faith and founded Sara Fitz in 2016 from their home base on the coast of Maine. Today, Sara’s distinctive New England-inspired watercolor creations still adorn paper products, but they’ve expanded the business to bring her works to life on illustrated goods like framed prints, wallpaper, textiles, and more.
Drawing vision from a love of Nantucket that she and Miles share, having met and gotten engaged and married on the island where they both spent their childhood summers, Sara’s subjects span simple motifs that call the area to mind, such as sailboats, hydrangeas, whales, ginger jars, anchors, and beyond. “The ocean, the air, the magic of Nantucket is hard to describe with words,” Sara says. “With that said, our spot [in Maine] on the coast provides more inspiration than I could ever hope for—the charming cottages, lobster boats, aged buoys and docks, seagulls, and beaches. Maine—New England in general—is so rich in character. My work tends to focus on celebrating the simple, everyday things one might not otherwise notice. I aim to make these ordinary things meaningful.”
The company’s offerings continue to evolve, recently adding apparel, needlepoint patterns, and collaboration collections, such as an L.L.Bean bedding line that features Sara’s artwork. On the company’s fifth anniversary, they opened a flagship store in their home of York, Maine. “I still feel like I’m sneaking into someone else’s shop when I unlock the door,” Sara says with a laugh.
“We dove headfirst into creating our dream company,” she continues. “We worked with everything we had, alongside our little boys and rescue pup, to turn our brand into one that focuses on classic collections that make people happy and celebrate color and whimsy, detail and design, and our beautiful coastal locale. I hope [people] take away a piece of New England [and] a piece of family. I hope they feel the love that’s gone into each design.”
For more information, visit sarafitz.com.