The ocean called her to set up shop in Salem

Ocean Chic Boutique & Waterbar
Erica Kirwan Bourgault is surrounded by some of her favorite things at her beachy-brands boutique, Ocean Chic, in Salem.

In Erica Kirwan Bourgault’s life, every day is like a beach day, even when the snow falls.

Three years ago, she opened Ocean Chic Boutique & Waterbar on Pickering Wharf in Salem, where she sells clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Everything is decorated with lobsters, seashells, and ship anchors in nautical blues and summertime corals, greens, and pinks.

“I’m surrounded by all of the things I love,” she said.


This year, the recently married Kirwan Bourgault, 36, expanded the product line to include men’s and baby’s clothing and accessories. The store’s motto, “Big brands you know, local ones you’re going to love,” reflects the range of items.

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Also unique is a water bar with flavored waters guests can buy to sip while they shop.

While a director of marketing at Bain Capital in Boston, Kirwan Bourgault used to daydream about living near the beach and running her own business after she retired. But now, even busier creating a custom line of clothing, gifts, and jewelry out this June, the Salem resident said, “I wouldn’t have the energy to do this in my mid-60s.”

We spoke with Kirwan Bourgault.

Q. Target audience and why Salem?

A. I chose Salem because there’s a lot of tourists just walking by. We have a group of regulars from all over the North Shore, so it’s a nice blend of both.

Q. Hidden treasures?


A. We have a lot of locally made jewelry. One brand, Lovewell, is made by three sisters out of Wakefield who make layered necklaces. Also, Emmas Oysters on Etsy in Marblehead makes these custom-made oyster jewelry dishes with beautiful maps of Salem Harbor inside the shell. We can do any harbor though, anywhere in the world. The oysters come from the Sea Level Oyster Bar restaurant next door.

Q. A water bar?

A. We were the first ever in 2014. Now there are others. I want guests to slow down and enjoy their experience in my shop. It gives us a chance to talk and connect. At Bain, I used to drink coffee and soda all day. Now I’m a certified spin instructor and drink tea and water all day. We sell boxes — no plastic bottles, trying to keep the ocean in mind — of coconut water, spring water, and DRINKmaple, maple water that’s “hot” right now. It has one ingredient, sap, straight from the tree, and is filled with electrolytes and minerals.

People walking by pop in and say, “Water bar?” It piques their interest.

Kathy Shiels Tully can be reached at