St. John residents Karin and Bob Schlesinger.
While most Love City residents know St. John is one of the best islands to live on, Islands Magazine has made it official and spent a day with two relocated New Englanders to prove it to the world.
Karin and Bob Schlesinger have called St. John home since moving to the island from Massachusetts 13 years ago. While the two have accomplished quite a bit, including running their own successful photography business Tropical Focus, the Islands Magazine story is their first glossy magazine spread.
Islands Magazine profiled the Schlesingers as part of its “Best Islands to Live On” spread in the July/August 2010 issue which features transplanted residents living on each of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Your Caribbean dream life has never been easier than in the USVI. What are you waiting for?” is the tantalizing headline of the 11-page feature which introduces Corby Parfitt and his family, originally from San Francisco, who moved to St. Thomas to enjoy a “more adventurous life.”
On St. Croix, Ben Jones — a former “lone wolf” from Georgia — who runs Creque Dam Farm’s Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute with his wife, is the featured expatriate.
“Fresh Finish,” was written by Dave Herndon and profiles the Schlesingers, a couple who fell in love with St. John on vacation 16 years ago, and started planning their move as soon as they returned to their suburban Boston home.
Karin Schlesinger detailed their migration in a book titled Desiring Paradise, which she published 12 years ago and which actually led to this month’s magazine spread.
“This whole thing came out of the blue,” said Karin Schlesinger. “It was really a result of social networking on Facebook, believe it or not. A guy who lives in Florida named David Balmforth visited the islands and bought a copy of the book I wrote.”
“So years later he’s on Facebook and the editor of Islands Magazine was bemoaning the fact that he was trying to find the perfect St. John couple for an interview for an article on ex-pats,” she said.
“This guy suggested that he find us and talk to us. So Dave Herndon, the editor at the time, found Bob on Facebook.”
Even when the couple found out about the article, they were surprised by the attention.
“I couldn’t believe that anyone would be interested in us,” Bob Schlesinger said.
“I thought it was a joke,” said Karin Schlesinger.
Far from being a joke, the magazine sent down photographer Zach Stoval, who followed the Schlesingers to several photography shoots over three days and gave Bob Schlesinger a new point of view.
“He followed me to a beach wedding and on a villa shoot,” said Bob Schlesinger. “It was a unique experience being on the other side of the camera. It changed my perspective of taking photos of people.”
“I will definitely be much more sensitive of how they feel and how they’re perceived,” he said.
The three page spread boasts photos of the Schlesingers — and their two cats — at rest and at play, including a shot of the couple at Sheila’s Pot food stand with Sheila Liburd herself.
After the photographs were taken, writer Dave Herndon came down to Love City and spent a day with the Schlesingers.
“He came down to the island and was scouting St. John, so we decided to be his tour guides for the day,” said Karin Schlesinger. “We took a day off, which was fantastic for us, and we went all over the island from Sloop Jones to Sheila’s Pot downtown. A photo of us at Sheila’s is in the spread which is really fun, she’s such a sweetie.”
The couple also showed Herndon the finer points of wine sampling, bringing him to the Wine Club gathering at Ocean Grill.
“We wanted him to meet some locals and enjoy the island,” said Karin Schlesinger.
The Schlesingers are thrilled with the exposure although they were a bit surprised by being referred to as “semi-retired,” despite routinely working 12 hour days, Karin Schlesinger explained.
“The final draft is definitely different from the initial draft that we saw,” she said. “Apparently they needed to make us fit the concept they were going for with us being semi-retired and relaxing.”
Despite the poetic license taken by the writer, the Schlesingers are pleased with the central message of the piece.
“We really just wanted them to show how St. John is a great place to live and a great place to settle,” said Karin Schlesinger. “It’s a great place to come and live your dreams.”
The Schlesingers are definitely living their dreams. For more information on the Schlesingers check out their website www.tropicalfocus.com and be sure to check out their blog.