How Shopping Can Help The U.S. Virgin Islands Recover
We're all devastated by the damage recent hurricanes have wrought in the Caribbean. And most of us are looking for ways to help, if only from afar. One way, of course, is to donate to relief efforts (the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel Association both have established funds.) But another way to offer financial support – and to get something tangible in return – is to shop online with local Caribbean businesses.
I've rounded up some retailers on St. Croix who, while they repair their brick-and-mortar stores, are selling merch online and donating part proceeds to their respective islands' hurricane relief. And I’ve also included a talented artist on storm-ravaged St. Thomas and a recent St. Thomas transplant, both of whose work is definitely worthy of your dollars. Let’s help the U.S. Virgin islands help themselves. Let's shop!
ADORN Less than a year old, this Christiansted boutique is a trove of gifts and accessories for men, women and home, many made by independent designers and artists. While the Queen Cross Street is still closed after the storms, the online store is up and running, and Adorn will donate 10 percent of sales to relief efforts by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands and the Tim Duncan Foundation.
CRUCIAN GOLD This family-run jewelry store is known for its signature Crucian knot bangles and for pieces made with “chaney” (pieces of pottery left over from the Danish Colonial era). And now they’ve created the “VI Strong” cord bracelet and sterling silver pendant (both $45), with 100 percent of the proceeds going to hurricane relief through the St. Croix Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
IB DESIGNS The hook bracelet is the iconic Crucian souvenir, and on my first visit to the island I left with four of them! After snagging the original at Sonya Ltd, my second stop was at this red-doored Christiansted store, which offers a cool and contemporary spin on the classic with silver and gold hooks inspired by nature and Taino symbols. Ten percent of sales of all IB's collections will go to the Tim Duncan Foundation and to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
ISOLA BELLA I first came across Gina Feddersen’s work back when I was an editor at Caribbean Travel + Life, magazine and since then I’ve continued to admire her pieces. Gina’s diverse collection – watercolors, home accessories, ceramics, stationery and jewelry – is inspired by the organic forms and natural colors of her Caribbean home. And there’s something here for everyone, from pewter rings to pineapple-embellished greeting cards. But I’m a big fan of her cute and capacious island map totes.
JOYIA INSPIRATIONAL JEWELRY Can jewelry inspire happiness? Joyia Jones and her team believe it can, and, for the last five years have been producing joy-bringing trinkets at their Christiansted storefront. While the building is being repaired, Joyia’s online store is still operational, offering silver and gold rings, bangles, pendants and earrings. I fell in love with the feminine form of the Mariposa cuff when I saw it, and I’m pretty sure that at least one of the store’s 14 collections (check out the St. Croix set) will catch your fancy. A percentage of sales of Joyia’s new "V.I. Love" pendants, earrings, rings and bracelets will go to helping the Crucian school system’s post-hurricane recovery and to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
JEN PAPATAROS I met this former USVI resident on a cruise ship call in St. Thomas, where her port kiosk, Art Haven, was an oasis of authentic Virgin Islands art and handicraft in a desert of international duty-free brands. Turns out that Papataros is also an accomplished artist herself, and now she’s relocated Stateside, she’s using her talents to benefit her former home. Jen’s “In The Eyes of the Hurricane” series of four oil pastels (one each for St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Water Island) will be up for auction online from October 10 to 20 during the Adorn the Virgin Islands Art Auction. There’ll also be a live auction at Elysium Studios in Grand Junction, Colorado on October 20, with all proceeds donated directly to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. After the auction, Jen will also give 35 percent of sales of originals and prints from her Etsy store to the CFVI.