For former chief stewardess Deirdre Colgan, launching Nautilus Yachtwear in April was the result of client encouragement, which prodded her to expand her services. In May, her website went live. Since there’s no storefront, Colgan is able to operate completely online and offer competitive prices due to low overhead.
Nautilus Yachtwear provides high-end uniforms and interior items to the luxury yacht market. Table and bath linens, cotton Turkish towels and robes, and insulated drinkware, charcuterie boards, and coasters are among their wide selection, as well as printer and laser etching. She also recently added more laser-engraved options for the interior and has some giveaways in leather, slate, and bamboo in the works.
She works to make everything practical and inclusive for all her designs. “I have been really fortunate to work with some fantastic female deck crew and sometimes finding a good lady’s short option to match what was on board for the boys was a challenge.” Since she’s worked with many stews of different body types, Colgan wanted to create something that would work for curvier body types and have some stretch to it for great comfort and fit.
How It All Began
“I started just over a year ago with an embroidery machine and initially thought I would provide an embroidery service to yachts, stitching out items they had on board or doing small orders,” says Colgan. “But after positive feedback and requests from my first few customers for more, I started to grow.” She added more embroidery machines, sublimation printing, and screen printing, and particularly enjoys doing giveaways, since the options are endless in her segment of business.
And now, she’s constantly studying new products and techniques. “The smallest things can make a difference, such as color-fast embroidery thread,” she says, explaining that it’s UV- and bleach-proof so it’s a superior option for uniform and outdoor items. “It’s small details like this that make a difference over the life of the product.”
Colgan gets her graphics and design background from her time in the architecture industry (which came before she entered yachting) and is able to work with clients one-on-one to come up with a custom design or application. If they don’t have the correct file type, she redraws and converts images herself, saving them money and time.
Her Yachting Background
She first entered the yachting industry in 2012, where she started as a solo stewardess in The Bahamas and the Med. Overall, she spent six years as crew by the time she left in 2018. “Although I was planning the business, I left my boat when I got pregnant. A baby and a pandemic slowed things down but I got there in the end.”
The former stew was first inspired to create Nautilus several years ago while on board her last vessel, M/Y Island Heiress, a 145-foot Cheoy Lee. “We were switching from private to charter and I had some challenges in finding some appropriate options, such as high quality, hard-wearing bath towels that didn’t break the budget,” Colgan says. It was hard to find skorts that didn’t drag down with their radios and shorts that her female first mate was comfortable in. Colgan was also coming up short on finding high-end giveaways that she hadn’t seen before — with products that were easy to stow — as well as matching shoes that fit the whole crew from women’s 5.5 to men’s 14.
New Designs on the Horizon
After some time spent working on approving samples with a manufacturer for her new line of shorts and skorts, they are now finalized. The UPF-proof lineup is moisture-wicking and stretchy. Also on the horizon is a line of yachtie yoga gear that’s currently in the design phase after feedback from stewardesses on what they require from a legging (to work in and to work out in). Her production partner is working on samples, which will be color matched to their shorts and skorts.
Crew safety and wellbeing are key to the founder, which is why she’s trying to get boats to commit to switching out the standard boat tee for a long-sleeved sunproof shirt for their exterior crew. “We have options that are endorsed by the American Cancer Society and any vessel that commits to this change will receive a discount,” she says. “We even have UPF options made from recycled plastic bottles.”