Creative director, fashion designer & farmer
NYC to St. Lucia
Photos by Junior Sealy
I’m excited to share my conversation with Shala Monroque. Shala is a Saint Lucian native who moved to NYC in the early 2000s to chase her dreams in the big city. While working as a hostess at popular restaurant frequented by folks in the fashion and art industry, she began mingling in their circles and was celebrated for her refined and eclectic style choices. Shala got offered a position at a fashion magazine and raised through the ranks quickly.
In a matter of a few years, Shala became an "it-girl" of the fashion and art worlds, a covergirl, and a street-style darling. She was a creative director at Garage, an independent fashion magazine, Town & Country covergirl, and worked as a consultant for Prada. Shala was, by all accounts, on top of the world but in reality she struggled deeply with burnout, depression, and homesickness.
In 2012, Shala returned to St. Lucia after her brother was in a near-fatal car accident, staying for a few months while he returned to health. This wake-up call reminded her of the fragility of life. She returned back to NYC and started to ask herself hard questions about how she was living and whether it was fulfilling and what she wanted for the long term.
One morning in 2014, Shala woke up and decided she had grown weary of her jet set life. The city was becoming unbearable and she didn’t want to be away from family, friends and nature any longer. She packed her bags left her sought after career in fashion to move back home to her family's farm St. Lucia.
"I kept hearing this voice that said ‘you only have one life. One. You only get one shot as far as we know. At least you have this one life. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to be happy? Are you going to be happy if you died five years down the road and you didn’t do what you wanted to do?"
Since moving, she has built a small organic farm and food forest, taken up diving and photography, and has slowly found her way back into the fashion world on her own terms. Along with occasional Fashion Week appearances, Shala takes on freelance consulting work for brands that she believes in. Shala’s determination, and commitment to herself and native land has allowed her to reimagine a future in fashion defined by balance, wellness, and ecological consciousness.
It takes a lot of courage to tune into yourself and realize that where you are isn’t where you want to be anymore. This is especially true when you’ve reached a level of success that others strive for. It can be extremely liberating to make a radical change. We only have one life to live, so live it in a way that feels right.
Shala's bravery in following her heart, despite what the world was telling her is an important lesson. Material success has its limits. It can't give us deeper meaning and life purpose. Sometimes a terrible event is an opportunity to tune in and make a shift. Manifesting a life rooted in purpose requires listening to our inner voice, connecting and maintaining meaningful relationships, and being willing to make hard choices from the heart.
This is a story about following your intuition, prioritizing joy, and nurturing a relationship with the earth.