As you know, I started sirena + the sea in 2014 over 3 years ago when I was living on the North Shore of Oahu and running the visual merchandising for the Tiffany and Co. stores in Hawaii and Guam. I was on the Big Island in February 2014 for the moment of inception when the seed was planted. Shortly after in March I manifested getting fired from Tiffany and Co. and the rest is history. My boyfriend asks me if I manifested it or was late one too many times. My response, "What's the difference I still co-conspired in my own demise so I could rise." And, a week before said firing I told my neighbor that I was DYING. I said to him, "I need to be designing, writing, reading yoga-ing, meditating, dreaming, creating, surfing, and traveling everyday." His response, "Aren't you being a little dramatic?" One week later I was canned and I have been doing that everyday since. You can read a little more about that part of the story here: https://sirenaandthesea.com/pages/the-story
You, me, and the sea: A modern day pirate and his sirena.
The part of the ever-evolving story that is sirena + the sea and what I really came to tell you about begins shortly after in the Fall of 2014. After launching sirena + the sea in June 2014 I held on tight to the Island as long as I could before leaving my blue crush dream hale on Sunset Point. When the island says it's time, it's time. Looking back I had thought that was the greatest love I'd ever have and I was heart broken leaving in August of 2014. After a couple months of being back my brother was living in a huge house with 8 boys and asked me to come over and make them Chicken Parm. Being the classic Italian Jersey girl that I am I happily obliged and made the boys dinner. One of them ended up liking more then my Chicken Parm and that would be my now boyfriend and partner Mark. At that time I was just making my hand-woven silk necklaces designed after a Hawaiian ti leaf lei and I remember taking it off and putting it down on the counter and turning around to him thoroughly examining it with his eyes and hands as if he sensed its magic and that I believe was my initial siren song calling him in. After a few more times of making the boys dinner and some flirtation ( which my brother wasn't too stoked about ) we went on our first date to a little mexican dive for tacos and it stuck. On our second date I picked his nose for him, after some lady paid for our breakfast because both our cards declined. We understood each creatively as he is a carpenter by trade and I am an and artist and it helped that our level of ambition and drive was parallel. Mark at the time was a few years into pursuing a career in Scallop/ Commercial Fishing. Which, at the time was very entrepreneurial because just like it's hard to get discovered as an artist and designer, it's hard to finally get yourself into the circle of Scallop Fisherman. They're a salty bunch of men. It's a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and proving yourself. It sure as hell isn't for every man or ( woman ). We were both so broke at the time and hungry for our dreams, so it was special to share that bond. I remember everyone telling him he wasn't going to make it as a scalloper and he should just quit trying and get a job, just like everyone was looking at me thinking the same thing. I told him to keep going and that March before the season started he went to all the docks; Cape May, New Bedford, Barnegat, etc. and he taped his resume to every single boat and soon after he got a call and he went on his first 14 day trip out at sea.
Our first trip to Bali in 2015. Shortly after I took a massive set to the head and Mark watched from warong while eating Nasi Goreng and laughing.
So, after he got the gig life quickly shifted for him and the past 3 years he's spent over 600 days out at sea working EXTREMELY HARD. While he's out at sea I have been doing the same building sirena + the sea. Just like I supported him and told him to never give up and keep going, well he has done the same for me. It has actually been a difficult journey learning to let someone believe in you like that. It's actually kind of terrifying, because, what if they stopped? But, he hasn't and he has supported me and lifted me up every step of the way. Building me sets for shows, giving me gas money to get to said shows, feeding me when I couldn't, building me a home studio, making me look in the mirror and give myself speeches about how I'm #1 on my lowest days, taking me off my long stint on my Mom's couch, and the endless list goes on.
When he is out at sea and I am on land we don't really speak by choice. The other guys on the boat have children, so they are hooked up to call home and their wives, but us we like to do it the old fashion way. There is something very romantic about sending him off and calling him in. Like a true sailor and his siren. We talk to each other through sunsets, sunrises, full moons, and the sirena moon. My logo is a crescent moon so that's why we call it that. We have found a way to energetically communicate and feel one another and feed off of each other working hard. I know when he's about had it. Often times after 11 or so days when I've had enough I'll go to the beach and call him in. Haha, my siren song -- low and behold the next morning he is usually back in. Exhausted and covered in the sweet smell of scallops.
Since he spends so many days out at sea and I have the freedom to create my own schedule ( which is actually really important to us being able to maintain a relationship since he's gone so much ) the past two winters we have ran off to Bali for a month surfing and cruising. Aside from being a fisherman and carpenter, Mark is a surfer. Sometimes I feel like I share him with his other girl, the ocean, but what can I say, I love her too. So, I get it. We are in a polyamorous triad. You, me, and the sea. We both have centered our lives around the ocean and we wouldn't have it any other way. If anything we owe it all to her. She's our muse and our prosperity.
With that all being said, since before I even made my first silk necklace in Hawaii, I was dreaming of my swimwear line. It was actually the first sketches in my sirena + the sea notebook, it was pretty much the reason I started the brand, but I knew I had to take another path to get there, because I had no capitol and I was doing it all on my own. After a couple years of blindly throwing myself into the jewelry journey Mark and I were sitting at a bar in November of 2016 having wine and sushi and by the time we left my dreams of creating a swimwear line were coming to life. I had somehow spontaneously convinced Mark to invest in the line and partner up together. The next day I got to work, designed the suits and by January we were off the Bali to have them made. Which was a journey in itself. Another serendipitous and synchronistic one at that. Which I can elaborate on more in the future. We spent the next month stressfully searching for a facility in between waves of course, because, well, Mark getting waves is pertinent to my survival. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE waves too, but I'm just looking for the glide-y inbetweeners and shoulders at Uluwatu. We actually have several very funny Bali surf stories. Mark even made an instagram video titled '30 Days of surfing with your girlfriend by Mark Cavalieri' which probably needs to be watched by every surfing couple. It's that spot on. Anyway back to the swimwear...
After we left Bali, the learning and growing continued. I for sure got a few reality checks from the universe and several slow your rolls. Which of course all ended up being exactly what was needed. Once again, I blindly went into something new to grow this brand and came out the other side having LEARNED A LOT about the work and being a human!!!!!!! Just about a 3 months ago I drove myself in Mark's pick-up truck up to Newark Airport and picked up my shipment while Mark was remodeling and renovating the house we just bought blocks away from his favorite surf break Jenks on the boarder of Bay Head and Point Pleasant. I guess to sum up the meaning of this story, well -- Mark and I are your classic grassroots Jersey Shore born and bred kids. Kind of like Bruce, but not because, we're not BRUCE. BUT, like Bruce, we are just a couple of ordinary hardworking, determined, driven, dedicated, passionate underdogs looking to make a life for ourselves out of what we love and here we are doing it. Even though we know we could do it alone, we both wholeheartedly believe we are meant to do it together with our girl the sea. Instead of going to Bali together this winter we workd on our new home that still doesn't have a couch or bathroom sink, surfed in 5 mils ( for me by surf I meant found excuses not to put that thing on ), and got an Italian Mastiff Cane Corso Puppy names SABINA ( which I was on the fence about, because I am NOT ready to be a mom, but asbolutely in love with her ), and pushed SIRENA SWIM unknown legend collection as far as I could. Like Bruce said we're GROWING UP, but only a little....