The Voices of Cayman's Endless Summer
Speaking to Harriet Moon and Michelle Wight, both born and bred in Cayman, you can’t help but notice the creative energy that flows from them. Earlier this year they left their corporate jobs in the financial industry and founded Not Your Standard Agency, a boutique brand and communications company that is taking Cayman by storm. They are known for being design lovers, out-of-the-box thinkers, creative dreamers, experienced strategists, trained writers, travel bugs, food lovers and fashionistas – and that is only the tip of the iceberg!
Here we speak to these two impressive ladies about why they adore living in Cayman, their fondest childhood memories and the exciting projects they have in the pipeline.
When asked why they love calling this paradise island their home, Harriet and Michelle both refer to the wonderful lifestyle that Cayman offers. Harriet said: “You can’t beat the lifestyle here, having lived in London [and worked and lived at either ends of the city] the commute from West to East would take up to an hour each way. Here, you're never in the car much longer than 15 minutes door-to-door. The consistently great weather means there’s no excuse not to get outside for an early morning workout or after work sundowner. The sun always shining, it’s hard not to be happy in Cayman!”
Michelle added: “The weather! I miss seasons but rarely do you wake up and go, ‘oh wow, it's not blue skies, sunny and at least 80 degrees outside,’ in Cayman. It just makes life SO much easier! No pulling on and off jackets, making contingency plans or having more than one season in your wardrobe.”
It is no surprise why Harriet and Michelle, who were both educated in the UK, decided to move back home after their years away. Leaving Cayman to go to school in places like England, Canada or the US is a familiar story for some who are born here. But more often than not, the thought of coming back home is never too far away. Both ladies would often come back for Christmases and school breaks. When asked what their fondest childhood memories are, they both become nostalgic for the Cayman summer. Michelle described: “I think mine would have to be summers spent in the Kai. My family used to rent a house in Cayman Kai every year and I think we only used to have it for a week or so, but it would feel like months. There is nothing more peaceful than waking up on one of the most tranquil bays on the island – and when you have good people, good food and good vibes, it's always a great time! Just thinking about those summer days brings back the best memories and I still get giddy for Kai weekends. I love to travel but Cayman Kai has to still be one of my favourite places on earth. I count myself very lucky to still be able to spend time at the very same house we grew up holidaying in, as my brother married into the homeowner’s family!”
Harriet elaborated: “For me, that smell and sense of intense heat when you get off the plane after a long-haul flight will always be synonymous with Cayman summers. I have so many fond memories of endless summer days as a teenager in Cayman. Coming back from a long term at boarding school in the UK and meeting up with childhood friends that you may have not seen or spoken to in months, but it was like you'd never left each other. Carefree days at the beach, mid-week boat trips up to Rum Point or jet skiing across the North Sound – I'll never forget that sense of freedom and pure joy of long summer days [and nights!] in Cayman.”
When asked what their greatest extravagances are, their answers are quite telling of their passions and hobbies outside of their creative work. Michelle explained: “Well, I’m a bit of foodie so probably spend entirely way too much money at restaurants, supermarkets and specialty food stores. My travel itineraries completely revolve around the latest restaurants and must-have eats. My boyfriend and I have also love to entertain. He’s a mixologist so we get to be creative with pairing food with cocktails and are always rolling out 3-4 course meals for friends and family.”
Harriet added: “I’m a self-confessed shopaholic. My closet is literally bursting at the seams, but fashion has always played a huge part of my life and I love styling pieces and putting together outfits for both myself and styling project work that I’ve done in the past. When I used to work in London, I worked as a freelance stylist assistant and would literally take any styling job I could get my hands on - from taking a day trip to Birmingham to help on a photo shoot for Weight Watchers magazine to helping out on big budget campaigns for big brands like Marks & Spencer. It’s something that I still try to do here in Cayman when the opportunity arises, but I do love still documenting my daily outfits on Instagram!”
When asked who the greatest loves of their lives are, both women spoke fondly about those that are closest to their hearts. Michelle reminisced: “Probably my mum - whilst she’s no longer with us, she was the rock of our family, supremely organised, a lover of champagne and chocolate [traits that were certainly passed down] and the host to most of our family get togethers. I miss and still talk to her most days.”
Harriet spoke with admiration about her fiancé Simon, who she has known since their time in kindergarten together. She elaborated: “Simon and I got engaged last year on Christmas Eve. He gave me the most beautiful ring that he designed with my friend Gemma Critchley who is a jewellery designer back in the UK, and has her own inspiring brand, Cabinet Jewellery. She also grew up in Cayman and her designs are still influenced by the islands. We started dating when we were both back at university in the UK and when we get married in April next year we’ll also be celebrating 10 years!”
When asked what their idea of perfect happiness is, they both paint a beautiful picture of globe-trotting and collecting moments with loved ones. Michelle exclaimed: “Eek there’s so many things that make me happy - weekends in Cayman Kai, a glass of wine in the garden, reading a book in bed, but I’m probably most free and inspired whilst travelling so I’d probably have to say exploring other countries and being immersed in their culture as well as eating something delicious! My boyfriend and I just returned from a trip to South Africa, where he’s from, which of course involved a lot of good food and wine! We spent time in Kruger, along the Garden Route, the winelands and Cape Town, but South Africa is bursting with amazing fresh produce and fantastic vineyards so you can’t really go wrong wherever you are in the country!”
Harriet described: “While I’ve also been on some amazing travels with my family – from Antarctica to the Galapagos to Tanzania - my idea of perfect happiness is having all my family at home here in Cayman. It doesn’t happen that often anymore. I have two sisters back in the UK and my parents travel often, but everyone always comes together for Christmas. Christmas in Cayman is the best time of year - there’ s such great weather, so much going on socially, and everyone is in a festive mood. Every year we spend Christmas Day out on the water and then we host a big Christmas dinner at our house with all of our best friends, who are like family. Everyone contributes to dinners and we eat under the stars, drink good wine and play silly games. You just can’t beat it.”
So when asked what is next on the agenda for these inspiring ladies, they both get super excited for all the creative projects they are working on. Michelle said: “The marketing landscape globally has changed significantly over the last decade - people are consuming more and more content and small and big brands are all competing in the same arenas. Businesses now need to be smart, savvy – and a little sassy – to win their customers' attention. At Not Your Standard Agency, we work with entrepreneurs, small businesses and larger in-house marketing teams alike as an extension of their team, to provide brand development, content strategy and campaign management services.”
Harriet added: “It's been a whirlwind first six months of Not Your Standard business! We helped to kick-off Cayman's 2017 gala season with the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre's bi-annual fundraiser, Opa! My Big Fat Greek Gala, for which we were honoured to provide branding and public relations support. We got down and dirty in No.11 Spa to help spread the word about their menu of holistic treatments and trialed some delectable organic and biodynamic wines as Premier Crew geared up for the opening of its brand new retail store, tasting room and brew pub in Cayman Technology Centre. We formed the Media Relations division of 100 Women in Finance's NextGen committee to inspire 'Power + Presence' in female millennials by way of the association's sell out annual careers summit, held at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, in October, and developed a holistic brand for Janine Martins, a start-up wellness company on-island, and helped launched the business into the local market from the grassroots up. We worked up some branding and packaging for a soon-to-launch new booze product, headed out on the water for inspiration for an exciting new project, got back on the fitness wagon to get to grips with a brand spanking new brand, and considered redecorating our office after seeing another client's new digs!”
Michelle concluded: “Helping companies like these, as well as those that we can't name, to build their soul and purpose is the bread and butter of what we do - and the reason why we set out to do it. We hope others are enjoying following along on our Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as our blog, and learning from our journey as much as we are!”
We can’t wait to see what Harriet and Michelle do next! Check out all the amazing stuff that they are doing by visiting their website and following Not Your Standard Agency on Instagram.
In a Nutshell:
What is your motto?
Michelle: If you stumble, make it part of the dance.
Harriet: Never hope for it more than you work for it.
Brand of sunscreen
Michelle: Sun Bum.
Harriet: Kiss My Face. So gentle on your, unsurprisingly, face.
Michelle: A G+T, preferably with some cucumber + mint.
Harriet: Margarita on the rocks, all the way.
Michelle: Grapefruit + lavender aromatherapy blend
Harriet: Salt + sunscreen.
Brand of sunglasses
Harriet: Ray-bans, timelessly cool.
Michelle: Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins
Harriet: The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success by Jeff Olson.
Song of the season
Michelle: San Cisco – The Distance
Harriet: Dire Straits - Money for Nothing. We've been researching songs for the wedding so have been re-listening to some of our old favourites, like this!
Flips flops or bare feet
Michelle + Harriet: Bare feet, we're island children!