San Pedro, Belize is a quintessential tropical island with sandy streets that line the shore and the cobblestone roads that carpet the town square. It’s a Caribbean city where tourism flourishes. The beaches are lined with wooden piers, and boats power in and out of the Meso American reef, as long as the sun is shining. As picturesque as the landscape is, it’s the people of San Pedro that give the island its charm. I find my inspiration when I’m outdoors, sitting among the locals, listening to their laughter, engaging in camaraderie and Creole banter.
This is how I met Hailey, sitting at an open air bar of a small hotel, Sand Bar, sipping on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I had my laptop open, editing one of my short stories. We started chatting and I learned that she was the owner of the adjacent hotel, Drift Inn. Within weeks of our meeting, she commissioned me to paint a mural on one of her walls. Our working relationship blossomed into friendship. She and I support one another as we navigate through new adventures in Caribbean lifestyles.
Her support doesn’t stop there, though. Hailey is an advocate for Hope Haven San Pedro, one of the five shelters connected with The Love Necklace Campaign, and as soon as she learned about what I do to support women on the island, she joined me on this mission, and now serves as a Director for The Love Necklace Campaign Organization.
I was thrilled to feature her as an Image of Love, and when I read her responses to my interview questions, I got chills.
Hailey, you’re so active in island life and you have an aptitude for developing genuine relationships. What is it that inspires you?
My mother came up from nothing. She started her business in her 20's with no one's help. She has helped me set up my first business and I just aspire to be as strong and business minded as she is.
What are things that interest you within your community?
Honestly, as a student of entrepreneurship and business, the grey and black sectors in foreign countries really intrigues me — how people make ends meet and survive, even thrive, with such hard circumstances around them. There is often a ‘white savior complex,’ when Americans go abroad, and someone from the US believes they know the ‘right’ way and better way to do something, with the assumption that people in developing countries need to be taught how to do things. I do not understand this because there is so much to learn from Belizeans here, and from each other as humans. The thought processes, the tools, and the conclusions may not end up the same, but there is no less merit.
What does being a part of the Love Necklace Community mean to you?
Since I was young I have been passionate about causes, and taken on charitable projects. I worked with a purse project that partnered with a school in Uganda. I love social entrepreneurship and ‘for cause’ shopping, when every purchase someone makes can make a difference. Whether it be investing in a small business owner, alternative or eco-materials, locally manufactured items, or profits that benefit charitable causes. The Love Necklace Campaign and Community give me the opportunity to connect with women in shelters in Belize, and around the US, by wearing a symbol of love and compassion. My sister necklace has been given to a woman who has worked on herself, left a bad situation, and is making her way through the world stronger than she was before. I hope that she and I can both feel stronger and more interconnected with women through, participation in the Love Love Necklace Campaign.
Which women's shelter did you choose for your donated necklace to go to, and why?
Hope Haven in San Pedro, Belize. I chose this location because it is in my home community. San Pedro has been a second home to me since 2017 and I see the struggles people face here. I am glad to invest in another woman on the island and promote a social entrepreneur/artist.
If you could say anything to the woman whose wearing your donated necklace, what would it be?
The world is a hard place, but the way it effects you is entirely up to you. Look to this necklace, and to yourself, to find the inspiration and power to live to your fullest potential. Do not let other people interrupt your path to success.