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interracial couple running together on the beach in Sarasota Florida female wearing pink bikini male wearing white shirt and pants

W.T.F ( Welcome to Florida )

W.T.F ( Welcome to Florida )

"I wouldn't want to be on this journey with anyone else"

<img src =" IMG-5895"alt= "Man and Woman On Beach Black and White">

It was early November, we were very stressed but hopeful with Holiday season coming up. Our last trip was to Jamacia at the end of the summer. We told each other that the next six months would be nothing but work, hard grueling work. Jamaica was our relaxation trip before relaxation became an afterthought.

It was now early December, both our birthdays passed, and to be honest we weren't thinking about celebration. This was going to be our first Christmas with a live, brand new website, a location in Soho and, to top it off, we were opening a second location in Grand Central in less than two months.

Orders were coming in, shipments were going out and sometimes nothing at all. Long hours at the office for me and long hours at the store for Jon. We were constantly going, staying true to the grind. If it wasn't work-related, we passed on it. Staying up late brainstorming, waking up early to test our midnight ideas was the norm for a while, besides the occasional dining out because neither of us cook.

<img src="IMG-5870"alt="Man arm around Woman interracial">

Then one day Jon heard from Todd, a long time friend of his. He told Jon that he just closed on a penthouse condo in Sarasota, Florida, right on the beach! Todd said that whenever we wanted to visit, he'll leave a key. I noticed we became a bit repetitive, almost like robots moving at the same consistent speed. We wasted no time taking Todd up on his offer. After we made plans to go to Florida, we decided it should be about fun and work that way we wouldn't feel too guilty. I mentioned to Jon that it would be Dope if our friend and photographer Stephen could somehow join us and shoot while getting some Dope footage for a video.

<img src="Jon-hand-on-bike-wheel-beach"alt="male hand on bike wheel beach">

Jon loved the idea but wasn't sure if the schedules would work out. A few days go by and Jon confirms the trip without mentioning it to me. He told me sometime between talking about the trip and confirming it that it was all called off due to work piling up. During early Christmas dinner with Stephen and his wife, Anna, when Jon pulls Stephen aside. I'm assuming they're just talking about business so I don't think much of it.

<img src="Jon-sitting-on-siesta key-beach"alt="male sitting on siesta key beach">

It's now Christmas Eve and we're celebrating at a friends house, when right before we head to sleep, Jon comes out with this small, black wooden box. Inside was a small orange sitting in sand with a tiny piece of black decorated paper. I rip the paper off and it reads, Sarasota, Florida January, 10-15, and on the back it reads, "Stephen joining us January, 12-13". I could not believe it! I looked at Jon with this expression like, how did you pull this off? He just looks at me, smiles and says surprise! It was a surprise. I mean, I thought the whole things was off. I completely put it out of my mind.

<img src="IMG-4883"alt="Man and woman reading newspaper">

Well, now it was time for me to get to work with planning five days of stories, posts, BTS videos and two full days of on-location shooting with Stephen. I had two weeks, no big deal, no pressure. A week goes by and I call a meeting with Stephen and Jon to discuss my progress with mood boards, inspiration and locations I wanted to shoot. Don't give us too much credit, we held this top-secret meeting in the lounge area of our building. I spent a week looking at everything from how-to blogs, beach fashion, the weather and countless hours on Pinterest. I wanted to make the most of this trip by using all of the research that I've compiled to create a story using all the inspiration I've researched. This was important to me.

<img src="IMG-5871"alt=" African American woman portrait on beach black and white">

<img src="IMG-5872"alt="Caucasian male standing on siesta key beach shore">

January 10 is finally here! We land at 8 pm in Sarasota, Florida. Jon's friend Todd, picks us up in his silver Maserati! I said to myself, it's time to start putting our story together. A short 20-minute drive and we arrive at Todd's condo. It's beautiful, on the 19th floor and has a direct view of the ocean... I mean a direct view, not to mention a 30ft long balcony. Both bedrooms have sliding doors opening to the balcony, which was directly above the building's in-ground heated pool. The entire 3,000 square foot condo was big enough to bike through! Jon and I kicked Todd out of the master which had an en suite bathroom accompanied with his and her vanity sinks and a walk-in closet.

<img src="IMG-5875"alt="Drone shot of residential area in sarasota florida">

I felt as if Jon put this whole trip together as a surprise for me and Stephen was flying out to work, however, I wanted to prove to myself that I could direct a great story. The first morning we unpacked and began to put different looks together. Our go-to's were beachwear casual and anything that stayed true to our social media themes. I coordinate our jewelry with the climate we were currently experiencing as well as with our brand. Everything had to be "On Brand". Todd lent us two bikes so we hopped on and headed out. This was our way of seeing the town and picking locations before Stephen arrived. I knew right away that the beach was an obvious choice to spend the most time. I figured why not kill two birds with one stone, content for now, content for later.

<img src="IMG-5869"alt="clothes folded on blow up bed">

(Looks we pulled together for Jon)

<img src="IMG-4861"alt="Caucasian male hand in sand bracelets on">

After exploring the beaches I chose Siesta Key Beach because it had the best natural light and white sand. A couple of days go by of light relaxation and morning workouts and afternoon smoothies, Stephen finally lands and meets us at a diner for breakfast. A quick welcome meal and we head back to the condo. We were super excited to show Stephen the view! We open the door and Stephen is blown away by the ocean-front view and finds it great for Drone shots. Stephen immeditely begins to unpack and set up while Jon tries on different looks and I do my make up. Jon being the hyper person that he is couldn't wait for me, so he heads down to the beach with Stephen and they begin shooting.

<img src="IMG-5861"alt="Caucasian male African American woman laying on beach drone shot">

This was the first time shooting content out of New York. So much of our brand and lifestyle is dedicated to New York. Our mentality, style, and social media reflect that we love New York. The challenge was; "How do we convey that same emotion on a beach in the middle of winter?" That's when I decided to let all of this go, just be consumed with the moment. I had to balance myself between work and play while working constantly. We didn't come all this way to say the same things, do the same things and fit a bustling, overpopulated vibe into a beautiful white sand beach with palm trees in the middle of winter. So I trusted myself, Stephen and Jon that we would create Dopeness. We all knew how to stay " On Brand" but we didn't let it control us.

<img src="IMG-5862"alt=Caucasian male African American female standing on beach shore">

<img src="IMG-5863"alt="Caucasian male model sitting on bench on the beach">

We have amazing products, we have great ideas and big goals. Let's tell a Dope story. One that we wear our Dope jewelry the whole time because that's why we're here, but it doesn't have to be the only reason we're here. We spent hours shooting while listening to each other's ideas. Jon and I raced up and down the shore causing a scene and it was amazing! We pulled pranks on each other and Stephen captured all of it. In the beginning, we planned everything out to the hour, but once we began shooting, we lost track of time and came up with more creative ideas than we probably would have if we stuck to a schedule.

<img src="IMG-5865"alt="Caucasian male leaning on bike on siesta key beach">

The video you are about to watch is the Dopest Vacation Video Ever! We mean that. This video captures everything we wanted and so much more. It tells a beautiful story about love, teamwork, patience, dreams, and partnership. It gets very personal, then it shows a wild upside. Our Dopest friend Stephen created an incredible, emotional and fun story that takes you from the beginning to the end. ~ Welcome To Florida~

Photography and Videography by Stephen J Mihalchik

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