People: Tracy Abalos, Fleur de la Mer

The surf and sand of Naples’ beaches have had a place in Tracy Abalos’ heart since childhood. Now, they’re the inspiration behind Fleur de la Mer, a line of natural linen clutches and wallets—each undeniably influenced by the Southwest Florida lifestyle—that the Naples native sews and paints by hand. Here, she shares how she’s seen Naples grow, her idea of Naples style and advice for other young entrepreneurs.

Tell us a bit about your history with Naples. What’s your favorite memory?
I was born and raised in Naples. My family has been here about 50 years. My grandpa discovered it in the end of World War II when his Navy boat was waiting for parts, so they had time to hang out on the beach and explore nearby towns. He remembered this paradise and finally convinced my grandmother to move from Connecticut some years later. I remember all the farms around here and no traffic lights … I remember the old Naples.

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What led you to start your business?
I started my business because I needed a creative outlet. I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and I grew up with my family having small businesses, too.

Do you have any artistic training or background?
I learned a lot from my grandmothers. One sewed clothing; my other grandmother painted and could draw. My mother does a little bit of it all, too, so I guess it’s in my blood. I also went to college for art history and fashion design.

People: Tracy Abalos, Fleur de la Mer

How would you describe the “Fleur de la Mer girl”?
She is independent, loves nice things and cares about quality. Enjoys some sparkle but doesn’t overdo it. Refined taste, loves detail, and she is always on the go.

What inspires you?
Just about everything can inspire me … anything that catches my eye. Nature, the fine arts, a song. It’s a process, and I didn’t understand it until I was older and learned that other artists think the same way as I do.

People: Tracy Abalos, Fleur de la Mer

What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
Test your ideas first! If it works, it works, but do your homework, and don’t produce a million items right away. It’s not only about good product but the right timing, too.

What’s your idea of Naples style?
A part of Naples is preppy, and I can be preppy, too, but that’s not Naples. If I go back to when my grandfather found Naples, then original Naples style is very simple: cotton and denim. This was a destination fishing town—T-shirt, swimsuit and denim cutoffs.

People: Tracy Abalos, Fleur de la Mer

Where can we find you in Naples on the weekend?
At the beach—waaaaay down away from the tourists!

Fill in the blank: ___ is always in my fridge.
Cheese.

Next stamp in your passport:
Some island … not sure which one yet.

Fleur de la Mer
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