Treasure Beach, Jamaica has a population of 3,500, including one French clothing designer who happily calls this out-of-the-way town—home. Sophie Eyssautier first moved from Cannes to Negril in 2000, and then to this quiet stretch of the south coast nearly four years ago. “I am a professional designer and have traveled everywhere, but my first time in Jamaica I simply said, ‘Here is where I want to live.’”
Sophie made 17 trips to the island before making the move she never could have anticipated. But that’s what Jamaica does for some people—it’s simply indelible. “It was mystical the first time I came,” she says. And beyond that, it’s hard for her, or anyone else, to explain—because it’s something that’s felt. “I opened my company in 2003, because as a tourist, I was fed up with everything for sale made in India and China. I wanted something made in Jamaica.”
Sophie’s first job here was designing t-shirts for the Spanish hotel chain Riu, but her boss soon insisted she stand on her own. The result is a glorious store featuring a broad offering of whimsical French silks, African-printed cotton and local fabrics—stitched into fluttering, flattering dresses, gorgeous children’s wear, adorable dolls, lavender-scented pillows and more.
Across the street is the earthy-perfect hotel and progressive community builder called Jake’s—and that’s definitely on purpose. Sophie says this town surprisingly attracts more Europeans and New Yorkers than the endlessly more tourist-centric Negril, and sales in this off-the-path enclave are good. Sophie employs a dressmaker up the road and two local women who sew while they work in the shop. Alecia Hamilton and Sheneka Gayle take turns stitching at the counter, which lets customers be a little privy to the process that gives way to these amazing wares.
Of her uncommon relocation, Sophie says, “I’ve never regretted it for a minute.” Townspeople recently traveled with her to Kingston to attain what’s perhaps her most prized possession: Jamaican citizenship. So this former Dior designer is here to stay, which couldn’t be more beautiful.
Digging Jamaica? Visit the 100m Shop and get your jerk-reggae-patois-sunshine fix. (Sunscreen recommended.)