BY QUEEN CHESS & JAUMESSE
Let us take you to a neighbourhood in New York City, in Brooklyn, where we walk down Nostrand Avenue and stop in front of a small storefront with a display of textiles and dresses of vibrant colours and patterns. Crossing the doorstep, a woman with a brilliant smile and a gorgeous chocolate complexion in a yellow flowing dress like the sun greets us.
This shop called Martine’s Dream seems to transport us to a space without time that feels both alive in adventure and warm in community. Indeed, it is reflective of Debbie Hardy, the owner, who is a traveller in the purest sense. She is a free spirit and wanderer of this earth, oftentimes taking off for a destination based on a strong feeling after reading a line in a book or seeing a photo. As a matter of fact, strong feelings, intuition and gut instinct as we call it, are what moves Debbie to act in life.
There is an energy to everything and it is important that she brings energy around her that exudes love and connection with others. In her native Jamaica, they say “It’s a vibes ting,” and it was many remarkable vibes that led to Martine’s Dream. It began with Debbie as a little girl basking and daydreaming in the rays of the sun where even now she finds her best self. She moved as a teenager to New York City to join her mother, then came to work as a fashion stylist touring Europe which ignited her travels across the world in earnest. Over the years, she made her way to India, a place she desired to see based on being drawn as a child to a photo of the country that was just saturated in colour.
This is where the idea for Martine’s Dream gained shape. It was on a particularly hot, dry, and dusty day in New Delhi, Debbie was on the phone with her sister Connie, who is also her best friend, and decided to create a line of dresses in different flowy shapes such as caftans and wraps to start. She would design clothing with a Caribbean and international flavour using printed cotton and hand-done textiles. The designs would not be based on trends and would allow each individual to create their own unique style that fit their personality. The clothing line would include mostly women’s clothing with some offerings for men and children.
Initially starting at markets and street fairs, Debbie transitioned to a physical store in 2013 and it came to be in true Debbie fashion with her being in the flow and following her intuition. It was a series of events featuring the symbol of the circle as a sign of the power of love, connection and community, that brought her in front of her soon-to-be shop. It may be said to have started with a simple gift to her grandmother when she was a pre-teen where she hand-stitched concentric circles on a red pincushion. To her amazement, her grandmother kept and cherished the gift until her passing a few years ago. That pincushion now hangs in her home as a reminder of the power of the circle, and her grandmother’s role in connecting Debbie with a friend in Brooklyn who became a neighbour and who let her know about a particular property for rent. When Debbie arrived at the address, there stood a tree in front and a circle embedded on the sidewalk. She felt the vibe of love and knew that she found her “soulmate” of locations. She said yes to the space the same day.
Martine’s Dream also known as #TheDreamShop is a space beyond clothing and accessories. It is for all to come to experience love and music, to discover art and other creatives, to find their village, and to exchange with others from diverse corners of the world. Many people helped to build and continue to build the store. She still remembers the first person who brought something. Her village in Brooklyn shows up for her as she tries to show up for them with love. To highlight how more of a home it is then a business, she will close the doors or someone from the community will volunteer to mind the shop when she desires to pursue other priorities including going to see someone who is sick, protesting for justice, attending celebrations, serving those who are struggling, or going on a new adventure.
Debbie and Martine’s Dream are ever evolving with both free to go the way they want to in the flow of life. She has the greatest confidence that all will be exactly what it will be. It is important to her that she takes nothing for granted and works to give as much as she is given along her journey on this earth. A guiding quote her mother would say in Patois is “what is fi yuh cannot be un-fi yuh!” Debbie desires others to know that the universe is available to us, it is us that needs to make ourselves available to the universe and then alignment comes – ONE LOVE.