Finding Creativity and Curiosity Between Two Coasts
I found the start of my career more challenging than I imagined. It was 2008 and the start of the financial crisis. I studied environmental design at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, but jobs in that field were hard to come by.
Eager for an opportunity and driven by a calling to the west coast, I moved to San Francisco with my then boyfriend, now husband, Rich. I was inspired to learn more about UI/UX design and started freelancing in the field, finding that it wasn’t so different from Industrial Design after all. I was learning a lot, creating experiences, and I loved it.
After taking a full-time job as a UI/UX designer, I craved the freedom of my former freelance lifestyle and so badly wanted to create something of my own. Rich and I asked each other a two important questions: “Is this what we want to do forever?” “Is this where we want to live forever?” The answer to both was no, and with that we were free to try something new. We could always come back, always get new jobs… but if we didn’t try creating something of our own then, when would we?
So, with freelance work in hand, we took a road trip. We spent a month or so driving cross country, followed by six months in Brooklyn and eventually two months in Southeast Asia. During that same stint we visited Joshua Tree, experiencing its magic for the first time. After that, we couldn’t get it out of our heads. So, after our travels, we searched for a place in Joshua Tree to permanently call our own and bought a 1949 home with not much of a plan—just a desire to create something with our hands.
My passion for design reignited in the desert, inspired by the surrounding landscape. Nearly every plant, animal, and sunset sparked a newfound sense of curiosity. Over the next four years, we renovated three properties and I wrote a book alongside my husband Rich, At Home in Joshua Tree, while still freelancing to fund these new passion projects. When we put our first place up on Airbnb as a second source of income, we learned that others craved a place to reflect, reset and create just as much as we did. What was originally intended to be our personal oasis to enjoy ordinary moments in nature, grew into not one but three desert getaways we can share (four including our own home!).
It wasn’t until last year that we were able to stop freelancing and focus 100% on our properties and building our business in the desert, The Joshua Tree House, full time. We also newly opened Posada, a five-suite inn bordering Arizona’s breathtaking Saguaro National Park.
There have been countless sacrifices to pursue this life in the desert. While I may not take many days off, my surroundings are a constant reminder to slow down and enjoy the process of it all.