The Birth of a Brand

     When it comes down to it, people love a good story. Whether it's how your parents fell in love or a first time experience at Burning Man, how you tell the story and how much passion you possess will shine through in your expressions or writings. People ask me all the time how I started Jypsea Local and this is what I tell them.

     When I was 15, I taught myself how to sew. It started with handbags and clutches, little accessories, costumes for the plays at my high school, and then I ventured into clothing, making my own dresses, shorts, rompers and more. As an artist, I find it extremely important to never limit yourself to one medium. Growing up, I watched my mother draw, paint and mosaic amongst other things, always switching it up. So naturally, I fell in love with painting. Its all I did for days on end. When I wasn't studying or working, I was painting. I started selling them but It just didn't fulfill me. I gave away more paintings than I sold and I was struggling to make a profit doing what I truly loved. 

     Throughout college I was bartending, serving, catering, handing out flyers downtown (*insert cringe here*), sampling different liquors in little black dresses all over Fort Lauderdale and a plethora of other horrific forms of income. I had no idea that this would become my profession and I'm still a little uncertain of what exactly my profession is. The point is, I was doing whatever it took to make that cheddar and no one was going to stop me. I was a girl with drive and discipline. What a lot of people don't realize today is that you don't start at the top. You have to get dirty. You have to put yourself in some unique situations and get out of your own way.

      Since I was in my mothers womb I have been visiting the Islands of the Bahamas.  My heart is in the waters of the Exuma Cays and it's where most of my inspiration came from when I started sewing my own swimwear. It's also where my little sister told me, "We are like gypsy's of the sea!", hence Jypsea Local. Every summer my two sisters, mom, dad and countless friends would pack a boat or a plane and figure out a way to make it happen. Our sacred island was always waiting for us. As years passed and technology grew, I was still adamant on turning my phone off and using that time to decompress, reboot and find more inspiration. It was during one summer where my sister and I were simply fed up with the basic American full coverage bikini bottom. We were scrunching and pulling and doing whatever we could to get the ultimate booty tan. After searching all over and not getting the results I wanted, I decided to make my own bikini. I knew how to sew already, how hard could it be? Haha. 

It wasn't easy. 

     Before I knew it, I was in the corner of Starbucks with a paper bag and a bikini, like a common drug dealer, waiting for someone who had commented on an Instagram post. Between all of my friends, sisters and their friends, my new hobby started to take off and I thought to myself, "Could I really do what I love as a profession?". There were many sleepless nights of trial and error and I still make mistakes today. No one is perfect, but sometimes the mistakes you make turn into the most beautiful masterpieces. 

     It's now 5 years later and I have had my own brick and mortar boutique in Lauderdale-by-the- Sea for 3 years. It's safe to say I've learned A LOT about owning a company, running a retail store and most importantly, dealing with people. Nothing could have prepared me for this adventure. After all, I'm an artist before anything.

Stef Holtzheuser