We recently caught up with Dee Hardy, owner of Dee’s Tropical Paint Parties, who has hosted fun paint parties for Point of View guests. Read on and treat yourself to a healthy dose of inspiration from her magical story.
1. You visited Negril, Jamaica for the first time in 2017 and said to yourself that you would be back to live. What clicked for you?
I visited Negril for my 33rd birthday in February 2017, just three weeks after being laid off from my full-time job. I had no idea that this birthday trip would change the course of my life! It was mid-flight on my return to the United States when I turned to my girlfriend and said, “I have to return to Jamaica.” There was something special about the island that was calling my name. During the connecting flight, I drafted and sent an email to a resort owner in Negril, asking him for a meeting to discuss bartering my art services for lodging. I was tired of the 9-5 life and had a deep longing to do something more, so I dreamt bigger, took a leap of faith, and reinvented my life. Instead of bartering, I decided to start a business in Jamaica.
2. Many people set goals, but life gets in the way and one year turns into two years and then maybe never. How did you make this happen?
In July of 2017, I wrote a journal entry to myself promising that a year from then, I would be finalizing my move to Jamaica. Here is what I did to keep my promise to myself:
I prepped my mind with motivational messages each morning. I knew that in order to make such a radical change, I would need to be mentally prepared. For a long time, I lived with the fear of not having enough, but I learned that there is abundance in the world, and the universe conspires to give you what you desire
I made major moves and sacrifices, so it was difficult to turn around or even stop. I started 3 jobs in order to save. I moved out of my apartment to room with my sorority sister for 6 months. I made six more business-related trips to Jamaica to network, create partnerships, secure venues, find an apartment, and transport business materials and my belongings to the island. I took action the entire time.
I shared my dreams with just a few people. I encountered a few naysayers, but they were primarily people who unintentionally put their own limitations on me. My biggest supporter was my sister Crystal. She was always in my corner, believing in me, rooting for me and brainstorming with me since day one. I will forever be thankful for her. I also had close friends and line sisters who were instrumental in supporting me then and now!
3. You say your talent for painting is God-given. When did you realize that you could paint?
The funny thing is that I had no idea that I was artistically inclined until my senior year in college. One evening, after praying to God about finding my talent, I went to Walmart and picked up a cheap canvas panel and cheap paints. I was aching to release some creativity, but I didn’t know where it would come from. I went home with my materials and painted for the first time. I created a landscape scene, and I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that I could paint.
4. You paint and teach various forms of art, but your specialty is erotica. Why erotica? Why is this important to you?
Erotica is important to me because I love beauty. I feel that eroticism touches the most sensitive part of human nature, and if I can capture that on canvas, then I feel like I can communicate with people on an intimate level. When I create erotic art, I feel excited and fulfilled. A lot of times, people sexualize erotic and sensual art, and I must admit, it irks me when people see the crude versus the beauty. But, I have come to accept that I have succeeded at being an artist if the art has an effect on people, whether positive or negative.
5. We are so tickled that you met Stan. He has been a tried and true member of the Point of View Team, transporting guests all over the island. You met him on one such pick-up! He drove you to the villa for your first paint party with Point of View last summer. If you don't mind sharing, what was the spark?
I met Stan about a month and a half before my big move to the island. As my driver, he was refreshingly professional and respectful. On the drive to and from the villa, we talked about our goals and dreams. I was intrigued by how goal-oriented he was. We stayed in touch and it soon became clear that with Stan, I could check off the majority of the items on my partner checklist. I had never been supported the way he supports me. I had never met anyone that "shows up" for me the way he does. He has made my transition to Jamaica even sweeter!
6. What do you love most about island living?
I love being just footsteps away from the beach or driving on the highway and being surrounded by water. Also, as an American, I was always in a rush to do something. Here in Jamaica, island time is a real thing. I can breathe and slow down. If I am running late, it’s not a problem because usually the person or business that I am scheduled to meet, is running late too!
7. Visiting a place is not the same as living in a place, right? What is the thing you like least about island living?
Funny enough, the relaxed pace that I appreciate is also the thing I like the least! I am learning to live with what seems like a lack of urgency from others. No one is in a hurry to do anything! Sometimes that can be frustrating, especially when trying to handle business.
8. What have I missed? What story do you want to tell?
Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. No one is coming to save you. If you want a change, you have to be that change.