Kodiak women are tough. Hunting, fishing, foraging, and raising a family through icy winters without so much as a Target. Just sayin'. Those of us not born and raised here traded in our high heels for brown rain boots, our flat iron for headbands, and our summers for...well, we're not sure what after this past summer. Not everyone sticks it out.
Photos by Alicia Sharp
Still, there is something that draws people to this island, calling them home. Rosi Simmons is one of those people. Rosi is a 26yr old college graduate from Arkansas City, Kansas. We met a few years ago when she first came to Kodiak to volunteer at the Kodiak Baptist Mission [KBM], an organization serving the families of Kodiak with a food bank and a range of children's programs. Rosi is lead teacher at Sonshine Preschool at KBM.
I asked Rosi to model my jewelry because, well, look at that smile! Ladies and gentlemen, that's called joy.
You’re from Kansas, a few hours from where I grew up. As a midwestern girl, I know first hand the culture difference between there and Alaska (insert cliche OZ reference). What drew you to Kodiak?
Initially what drew me to Kodiak was a calling to be a summer camp counselor at the [Kodiak Baptist] Mission. I felt pulled to go and I had a friend who previously had been to Kodiak, so she was my connection. Growing up surround by fields I never got the chance to see the ocean until college. I fell in love with it and wanted at some point to live by the water. So I went from being surround by fields to being surround by water!
So you decided to stay. What has kept you here for the last four years?
I felt called to be here and that calling from God has kept me here. Being so far from family has had its trials, but each year I stay Kodiak feels more and more like home. I have found that the people on this Island are some of the friendliest, most supportive and kindest people I have met, which says a lot since where I am from everyone waves when you pass by them! I also love the adventure that seems to be waiting right outside your door. All you have to do is gear up! The beauty of this place with mountains, ocean and wildlife never grows old. I wake up and look out my window feeling blessed.
What advice would you give to young women who are presented with an opportunity to stretch outside of their comfort zone?
Do it! Friends and family may not understand or even support you, and it may be the hardest decision to make. But if you feel in your heart that you are called somewhere or to do something, do not ignore that feeling! I have found that by going outside of my comfort zone I have grown in areas that I did not even realize were weak spots. Know that God is with you every step of the way and feel empowered by that!
Wild Island Studio News
This is the first in an ongoing blog series featuring the women of Kodiak. The series will be released in conjunction with my Junkyard Beach Collection, transforming beach-found metal from Kodiak Island into wearable art. Each piece is completely unique, representing the grit and beauty of Alaska and the Kodiak women they are named after. The one on the right is named for Rosi. She doesn't know this is happening, so it will be a fun surprise (wink).
My passion for transformation and redemption comes to life in these pieces. I will donate 10% of profits to aid Priceless Alaska in the fight against human trafficking.
Left to right: Hailey, Steph, Rosi
These pieces will be released to the public here later this week, but members of my VIP email list will have first dibs during an early release exclusive tomorrow, Wednesday, October 18. To join as a VIP member, click here and enter your email to sign up.