Her husband's love of surfing is what led them to leave their jobs in the mid-2000s and embark on a year-long trip chasing the world's biggest waves.
But Angela and Jim O'Brien's vacation, somewhat serendipitously, led to a much-wanted career change.
Angela now designs and runs a burgeoning accessories line, Cleobella, which is popular with the Hollywood set.
Cleobella opened its flagship boutique this month in low-key, cozy Sunset Beach. The couple resides five minutes away in Seal Beach, and Angela grew up in Huntington Beach, where her family still lives.
The inspiration of the line really began in Bali, the Indonesian island where the couple went to chase the surf in early 2006.
The O'Briens arrived in Bali shortly after the 2005 bombing. The island was quiet and still recovering, recalled Jim, 38.
Angela said she was inspired by the people — their kindness and welcoming nature — and by the island's natural beauty and simplicity. Adding to its influence were the rich patterns, colors and texture of its vintage ikat fabric.