Refresh, renew, repeat

Refresh, renew, repeat

This may be a bit long so stay with me.

Many of you that have followed my blogs on Island Contessa, have probably noticed that I have been off line for a while. Since September of last year to be exact. Some of you may know why but a lot of you won’t. On September 20, 2017, a Category 5 hurricane named Maria took aim at my tiny island of St. Croix. It was devastating and bad as you might expect. No, actually it was worse than you might expect. Following the hurricane was what felt like plague and pestilence—drowning rains; large and ravenous bugs and waves of crushing heat during a time when the entire island was without power. It was a time that tried many people and some left island life behind. My family chose to stay and during those next months, most of what we focused on was survival. Because of Hurricane Irma, that occurred two weeks before Maria, Island Contessa lost all of her brick and mortar stores that were located in St. Thomas, St. John and the BVIs. After Maria, the business took a back seat to everything else; but it was never far from my thoughts.

You see, last summer, before the hurricanes, when I was back in Kansas City, I reconnected with a friend, who had a remarkable marketing company. Before all of this terribleness that happened; her amazing company had taken on Island Contessa as a client to help me rebrand, refocus and take the business to the next level. In spite of everything that had happened, they were still committed to helping me and while I was digging my way out of the fog of hurricane survival; they were working to help me build my business—even though it now meant basically starting over. That involved having conference calls with me when I could get to a hot spot. Ditto on responding to emails or documents they wanted me to review. Helping me stay on point when, at times, I had a hard time focusing.

What you are seeing now, today, is the fruits of their efforts. As a partner, as a guiding force, I can’t speak highly enough of Bonfire5 and their leadership team of Lois Brayfield and Brent Niemuth. They’re taking ownership in their work and my success as a partner not as a brand agency. That is rare. That is a gift.

I am incredibly proud of my collection which came together before, during and after the hurricane. In spite of some overwhelming odds—did I mention my manufacturer in Florida also went through a hurricane—it is ready for you, my loyal customer base. I want you to wear it with the same pride and love you always have, knowing I do it for you.
Which brings me back to the title of this blog. Every day, everywhere, people go through scary, sometimes terrifying events. What happened here, happened in Florida and Puerto Rico and islands throughout the Caribbean. Scary things happen. People ask me all the time what I learned from the experience of living through a Cat 5 hurricane. I have no mysterious fount of wisdom, but here’s what I know.

Some of it is cliché (but true) and some of it may be new to you. Live every day like it’s your last. It might very well be that. If you have a good group of friends and family and you need help, tell them. Most people want to help; it’s just that sometimes they don’t know how. I was touched, overwhelmed and candidly surprised by some of the people who turned out to be the biggest helpers to us during this difficult time. Find something every day to be grateful for, to smile about or just laugh. Even in times of diversity; it’s there. Some of the best, funniest and most heartwarming conversations that occurred in my house happened when our neighbors/friends were living with us and for four days we had no power because our generator died. We cooked on our gas range and ate dinner by candlelight and swapped life stories. I’ll remember those forever. Ironically, I had bought a gratitude journal the previous summer and even during this period, I made myself, find gratitude. Eliminate anything toxic in your life—people, situations, habits. If going through this has taught me anything; it is that we all have a choice as to who we allow in our lives, etc. We can’t control how other people behave but we can control how we respond. Find the people that lift you up; not tear you down. Do something you love. The jury is still out as to whether Island Contessa will be a success (however you want to measure that). That said, I love what I do. I love the design. I love the creation. I love the customers and their response to my collections. It is a rare, rare gift to find something you have a talent for and a passion about and do it as a ‘job’. Finally, and this is an important one, realize this. Everything happens for a reason. It is a favorite quote that my step-daughter and I share. And boy, is it a true one. If I hadn’t met my friend last summer, Bonfire5 wouldn’t be helping me. If I hadn’t developed this amazing collection; you wouldn’t be shopping it now (you’re doing that next, right?). If Bonfire5 hadn’t believed in me after I lost everything; you wouldn’t seeing this amazingly revamped website. If I didn’t live on an island; I wouldn’t have gone through this hurricane. Yes, while I would never want to do this again; I’m actually grateful for the experience. It taught me a great deal about myself and how I want to live my life.
So I hope you continue to go with me on this creative journey. I hope you find the renewed Island Contessa, everything you loved before and more. I hope you see, in these new designs, a kindred soul on the outside that reflects you on the inside.

Thank you for all the love and support you’ve given in the past.


Share this post