Oct 22, 2014


In this series of interviews called “The Voices of Cayman’s Endless Summer,” we are speaking to well-known faces of the Cayman community about their favourite summer memories.
We welcomed Michelle Butler, Owner of the Design Studio and paddleboard enthusiast, to our Beach House and asked her about why she thought Cayman was the perfect place to start her business, build her dream house and raise a family. Read on to hear more about why she calls Cayman home and what inspires her. One thing’s for sure – she’s got style!
Her connection to Cayman has gone back decades. Michelle’s parents moved to the island in the late ‘70s and her uncle moved here even earlier than that. They all started in property development. She lived here until she was eight-years-old and then went to school in Canada. She reminisced: “I went to high school and university in Canada and did my Masters in Architecture in Toronto. During that time I would come back to Cayman every spring break, summer and Christmas so I have always maintained a close connection. I have many childhood friends that either stayed in Cayman or went to boarding school and we would always reconvene during the breaks.”
But Michelle never really thought that she would come back to Cayman to live. She elaborated: “It wasn’t the plan. But it was really an opportunity for us (her husband Dave and herself) as designers. It was a huge career opportunity to come down at that exact moment in time and be able to help the family business and to start our own as a parallel was amazing. My mom had the Design Studio in Turks & Caicos and my dad was developing some buildings and we thought why not come down here and see what happens.
That is what Cayman is all about – it has that entrepreneurial spirit and people come to make a success or don’t but have an adventure either way. The community has been really supportive of us. For instance, trades that I have known since I was a child who helped me paint my tree house are now working with us as painters on our projects. And clients who have known my family for years and years and know me now come into the store and support us that way. It has been a really nice reconnection.”
Coming back to Cayman was a big decision for Michelle and Dave but they have been thankful every day since they arrived that they made the choice. She said: “We have launched our own design firm, started our family, and built our home. Our reconnection to the island was really solidified when we had our son Russell because raising a family here is so fantastic and it couldn’t be more ideal for him. He is now growing up playing on the same beach that I grew up playing on. There is such a nice cycle to life to that.”
Their commitment to Cayman stems from a belief in the community here, a love of the ocean, and an appreciation for the safe, welcome environment that their child will grow up in. She continued: “It really comes down to the small, simple things to remind us of how lucky we are to be here; paddle boarding after a day at work to catch the sunset, seeing friends in (every) aisle of the grocery store on a Saturday, watching our son drink from a coconut from a tree in our own yard. There is much to love.”
When asked to describe her fondest memory of a summer day in Cayman, she had some difficulty picking one. Michelle said: “There are so many wonderful days here in our endless summer it is hard to narrow down! This summer was an amazing time with our three-year-old son Russell as he is just learning to swim and the other day we were able to paddle out to the reef by our house and snorkel with him. It was just incredible to see him chasing after the fish and asking which one was Nemo! It was a nostalgic moment too as I learnt to swim at the same beach and remember snorkeling the same reef with my mother. Time does fly.”
That is one of the reasons why she really loves the positivity of the message of Cayman’s ‘Endless Summer.’ She explained: “People always refer to going ‘home’ for visits or say that they miss this and that about ‘home’. It can sometimes detract from what we have here, which is so amazing. What Cayman offers in terms of lifestyle, safety and community is so positive and only going from strength to strength from local food becoming more of a priority to a higher caliber of design all around with all the projects going on here. All these changes enhance our everyday lives. It needs to be approached in a positive way, not that it is supplementing something that you are missing from home, rather it IS home and it is wonderful. Overall we have it made.”
When asked what her current state of mind is, Michelle describes it to us as active. She said: “There is so much going on right now with life in general with starting our family, to doing our own home, to expanding our business – I feel like my mind is sometimes on overload. There is that expression that ‘the more you do, the more you do’. I feel that on the one hand we are the most productive that we have ever been but on the other, also the busiest. Sometimes it feels overwhelming but most of the time it is exciting. It is a balancing act but you take it as it is and run with it. There is not a lot of time in my life for mediating, let us put it that way!”
Her greatest extravagance is food (she loves to eat out, eat well, and will always splurge on a good meal!) And the greatest love of her life is Dave. We couldn’t help but fall in love with her even more when she said: “I am lucky to have married a man that is my best friend, collaborator, and motivator. We have known each other since we were eight-years-old and have shared so much along the way that I can’t imagine life without him.”
Her most treasured possession is her home. She commented: “We call it our sanctuary and it really does feel like an escape from the world sometimes.” And her idea of perfect happiness? “Being with people that I love, having a good laugh, and being present in the moment,” she concluded. We agree, nothing can beat that!

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