Hope Colling is a native New Yorker who has spent the last ten years living in Marin County California and working as the Creative Director of Marmalade, the apparel + home decor shoppe she opened on San Francisco’s trendy Union Street in 2007. She’s also worked as a visual merchandiser for Anthropologie and as a freelance interior stylist with a string of high profile design gigs under her belt. Hope's work has appeared in Elle Decor, Better Homes and Gardens, Dwell Magazine and on the front page of the Style Section of The New York Times. Next up on her resume: designing and building an eco-chic cottage with her husband Pete on beautiful Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. This blog chronicles the trials and tribulations of that adventure!
Follow me on Instagram @hopeonthefly
On December 1st, 2015 my dad turned 70, and instead of a big party he wanted to celebrate with a small family vacation. Since it was his birthday, we let him pick the destination and he decided on Elbow Cay; a remote island in the Abaco chain of islands in the Bahamas.
For my husband Pete and I, it was a long journey to Elbow Cay from San Francisco- almost 24 hours; we had to drive an hour to the airport to catch a red eye to Miami, then taxi to another airport in Ft. Lauderdale where we'd catch a little puddle jumper to an island called Great Abaco, then from there we had to take a ferry from Marsh Harbour to Elbow Cay. It was around 7pm when we finally arrived on Elbow- we'd been traveling since 9pm the night before and we were stressed, tired and hungry. As we stepped off the boat onto the island with the candy-striped lighthouse and colorful gingerbread houses, we were welcomed by the smell of night blooming jasmine and powder-fine pink sand that felt like a warm blanket beneath our tired feet. Gulls were singing softly overhead and in the distance, the big, round, setting-sun hung like honey in the sky...and all of our cares melted right away along with it. In that moment we both turned to look at each other, took a deep breath and without saying a word, made the decision that we were never leaving.
It might sound crazy, but it's not unlike Pete and me to make big, life changing decisions without much reasoning (or conversation, for that matter!) Eight years ago we ran off to Mexico and got married on a beach after only knowing each other for a few weeks and not telling a soul...and that's worked out pretty well so far. We also both left comfortable jobs to start our own businesses, which you can read about here, here or here. I think we share this innate ability to tune out the rationalizations and the background noise and just really listen to (and follow) our instincts. Some people have called it bravery, some called it insanity, but when we came back from that vacation and announced that we were moving to that remote tropical island, no one was really surprised.
It took a year to make it happen; I had to sell my business to help fund the move and there was a lot of stress around that. I loved owning Marmalade, but after nine years I was burned out. I was ready for a new adventure and fortunately Pete felt the same. It's not like we were running away from anything, we had an absolutely wonderful life in California- successful careers that we loved and were fulfilled by, an amazing network of diverse and interesting friends...we were really happy exactly where we were. I think Pete summed it up best by saying "It's not that I'm hoping the grass will be any greener, I'm just tired of looking at the fence."
So off into the sunset we go to begin a a brand new and exciting chapter of our lives together....come along with us and share our adventures, no passport required!