An Island of Entrepreneurs– Grit and Resilience in the Face of Catastrophe

An Island of Entrepreneurs– Grit and Resilience in the Face of Catastrophe

We’ve mentioned before just how impressed we are with the local businesses that have either reopened or opened completely new businesses post-hurricanes IrMaria, and we will say it again. Going into the next hurricane season, we want to applaud the resilience that has been made so apparent of the Virgin Islands. It is not the pristine beaches, the perfect sand, or the year round “ideal” weather, it is the people that really make these beautiful islands, beautiful. Some of our advertisers that have reopened on St. Thomas have found some serious silver lining and have come back bigger than ever. There are new restaurants, yoga studios, property management companies, a plethora of construction companies, and much more. We are thrilled to see people contributing to the community in new ways: ways that they may have not prior to the storms. By not throwing in the towel or allowing defeat by the life-altering storms, these individuals have been able to give back to the community and help stimulate an economy in need.  All of these businesses (and so many more) are doing big things and we want them to know how much we appreciate them.

VI Children's Museum Reopening
The VI Children’s Museum team working hard on their reopening.

VI Children’s Museum (New Location): 

The Virgin Island Children’s Museum faced unique challenges post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Their beautiful space in the downtown area on St. Thomas was completely ruined and they, just like many others, were at a loss with what to do. Faced with personal decisions and recovery of their homes, they were continually urged and asked to reopen by the public. The Children’s Museum is one of the few places specific to children on this island, and there was a very large void after IrMaria. When asked about their experiences with reopening, Sarah Hughes, Co-Owner, said that finding suitable space to reopen was one of the largest issues:

“After the catastrophic damage the islands suffered as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, there were very few options for locations the would suit the needs of the museum. We were so fortunate to have found our current location, and to have such supportive landlords in TOPA Properties.”

The Children’s Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10A-5P and Sunday 11A-4P. You can contact them at: 340-643-0366.

The Movement Studio St. Thomas
The Movement Studio in Tillet Gardens.

The Movement Yoga (New): 

Katie Mayeux is a local yoga-celebrity on St. Thomas, known for her positive and vibrant personality and absolute talent in yoga and meditation. Katie has been taught formally and through retreats to India where she has practiced with some of the best, enlightening residents and vacationers of St. Thomas. People look forward to their sessions with Katie as a much needed break from their hectic weeks in order to clear the minds and center themselves. Some say it is almost more necessary than their morning cup of coffee! Before the hurricanes, Katie operated out of The Marriott which was completely demolished. As many others, she was forced to look for a new place to operate out of. It was then that she was lucky enough to discover some available space at Tillet Garden’s Center for Art, which could not have been more perfect for her. Tillet Garden’s is a place that honors creativity–and that has a lot of synergy with The Movement and Katie’s style. The Movement’s mission is to provide a sacred and safe space for self exploration and community connection through breath, movement, and awareness. The Movement focuses on a few different types of yoga which are: Asana, Pranayama, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa, and Hatha. If you are interested in learning more about these different practices you can read up on them at their website here. You can also check out their yoga schedule on their calendar here. The studio is open Monday through Sunday 6AM-7:30PM. You can contact Katie at: 214-850-9047

Island Dream VacationsIsland Dream Vacations: 

Amy Dukes moved to the Virgin Islands just four years ago where she landed her dream job with a leading VI real estate company, Sea Glass Properties, where she had the opportunity to run their St. Thomas vacations division. There she used her business management skills from previously owning two successful spas in Texas, her unparalleled customer service skills, and she treated the division as if it were her own. Two years later, Amy bought out the division and re-branded it as Island Dream Vacations. The company saw much success in its first year but then hurricanes came as an absolute shock and devastation. After the hurricanes, Amy focused her energy on making sure she could reopen business as soon as possible so she kept that on the forefront of her mind and actions. For her, leaving island was out of the question, so she powered through the hard times with visions of vacationers coming back soon. As fate would have it, her resilience has paid off and Island Dreams Vacations has been as busy as ever! As the island continues to re-build and the tourists continue to come back, Amy is just as excited as ever to welcome guests and be their on-island resource for all things vacations! Island Dream Vacations has an immense passion and expertise in assisting vacationers and guiding them every step of the way before and during their vacation. To book your next vacation, you can contact Amy at 340-227-1802 and/or visit her website at: https://islanddreamvacations.net/

Azul Shipwreck Cafe (New): 

Chaîne des Rôtisseurs inductee, and operator of Azul Cafe, Karrl Foster, is no rookie in opening restaurants. When faced with coordinating the massive cleanup efforts at the Greathouse and Blue Orchid all the while building a new restaurant, what kept Karrl pushing hard was his burning desire to get back to doing what he loved-creating and cooking. Karrl also had a strong desire to help get some of his kitchen staff back to work. Although it was hard and at times felt downright impossible, Karrl proved that passion and resilience always win in the face of hardships. Or as we like to call it–Grit. Azul Cafe was born out of the desire to feed Virgin Islanders, and travelers, with locally produced and organic (whenever possible!) food. They specialize in delicious bowls (try their Power Bowl, it is one of their most popular items on the menu) unique paninis (cough cough, a peanut butter, cheese, jelly, and BACON panini—aka dessert), sandwiches, and fresh juices. They also have a great happy hour and are within walking distance to the cruise ships. Open 11:30-7 Monday- Thursday, 11:30-8 Friday, and 11:30-4 Saturday. You can also place your orders to-go at 340-513-4969. Delivery options available for select locations and with STT Direct. 

Azul Cafe Salmon Power Bowl
Azul Cafe Panini
Photo of the Azul Cafe Power Bowl
outside looking in
late happy hour laughs
Azul Cafe Deck
cruise ship

Chicken N’ Bowling (New):

Chicken N’ Bowling is a brand new restaurant, bar, and bowling alley located at The Plaza at Havensight (formerly known as Al Cohen’s Mall) on St. Thomas. The bowling alley was built post-hurricanes along with the reopening of The Tap and Still and various relief and recovery efforts by Hooman Pedram and the companies. Before the hurricanes, Hooman promised the VI community that after they passed, he would build a bowling alley that would stand up to what you might find in the states. Not believing the thought that because it is on an island that is should be anything less than professional and well done, Hooman made good on his promise and Chicken N’ Bowling opened in May. It was not without a lot of hard work, and persistence and perseverance. Not to mention, he is building another Tap and Still on St. John (more info to come soon!). Hooman’s bio on Facebook cleverly states “imagine if I were not lazy” and we have to chime in and say that we disagree– he is anything but! Chicken N’ Bowling specializes in good eats such as a coal-fired rotisserie chicken, delicious comfort food sides, a great bar, and all for an affordable price! Chicken N’ Bowling is open Monday through Sunday from 11A- 12AM (or whenever people want to leave!) You can contact Chicken N’ Bowling at: 340-642-1587

Other new businesses include:

  • Rockstone Grille- Tutu
  • Sunny Days Ice Cream- Redhook
  • VI Press-Food Truck, Downtown
  • Abounder Fitness- Redhook
  • Hull Bay Restaurant and Bar- Hull Bay
  • Lilika- Yacht Haven Grande
  • The Box Bar- Yacht Haven Grande
  • Northside Quarter- Northside
  • Mel’s- Yacht Haven Grande
  • The French Quarter- Frenchtown
  • Breath St. Thomas Yoga- Havensight

If you want to add your business to this list, please send an email to info@whattodo-vi.com and we will get it added right away! If you are currently working on building a business also let us know, we will add you to our new “Coming Soon” category. You can also create a business profile here for free.

To all you aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs, a word of advice from Sarah Hughes, VI Children’s Museum,

“Never listen to people who tell you you can’t do it. When a person says no, you keep asking until someone says yes. Its was years of our lives to get this museum started and to prove ourselves. Only you know what you are capable of, and if you just keep moving forward, you will surprise even yourself at what you can accomplish.”

If you are looking for more guidance on starting a company in the VI stay tuned for more tips and resources coming soon.

Happy building!

Alison Hastings
Alison Hastings with her dog Millie Alison Hastings is a resident of St. Thomas and the new editor and manager of What to Do VI. Alison began her career in the Virgin Islands marketing for a leading real estate company. It was there that she realized her love for real estate, marketing, and work associated with building companies. For the last three years Alison has been working for an EDC company, where she has had the opportunity to learn and embrace the process of  building and operating small to medium sized local businesses. From developing a business concept, to working on a team planning the construction development, to operational and management practices, and her favorite–developing and implementing marketing strategies—Alison has a love for the whole process and is excited to apply it to businesses with What to Do VI.

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