One of Us

Michelle Smith


Can you please briefly tell us about your background? 

I am the U.S. operations manager for Ocean Sole Africa, a local 501c3 nonprofit. I have been married for 23 years to my wonderful husband, David, and we have an amazing 12-year-old daughter named Greysen. I have spent most of my 25-year career in customer service and sales, although I am having much more fun selling art made of upcycled flip flops!

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I like the fact that my job has purpose now. I’m not just selling to be selling. I’m selling our art to help provide care for our workers in Kenya. Plus, our art makes everyone happy. When people purchase a piece, they leave my studio with a huge smile on their face. Then each and every time they see their purchase, they smile again and again!

What are some of the challenges that your industry/company is facing? 

Most of our work is done through in-person sales in our studio at 5150 Palm Valley Road, Suite 406 and at festivals and art events around Florida. All of our retail festivals and events have been postponed this year, due to the pandemic, and most of our wholesale events have either been postponed or have gone virtual. We are looking forward to big things in 2021, just like everyone else! We have events planned at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Party for the Planet at the Miami Zoo and the Right Whale Festival in Amelia Island.

What are your primary roles/responsibilities?

I wear many proverbial hats at Ocean Sole. I am the U.S. operations manager. I also oversee the distribution center, where we fulfill our online orders. I attend local events to bring awareness to our mission, sell our art out of the studio/at events, provide support to our retail space in Sawgrass at Coastal Elements, and I also help our U.S. wholesalers throughout the U.S. and Canada with new wholesale orders.

What do you enjoy most about Ponte Vedra area?

We have received a ton of support from our local Ponte Vedra residents. This community is crazy about art! We were a part of the PV Holiday Shoppes at the Cultural Center just last week. Everyone I met had read about us in the Ponte Vedra Recorder and were excited to support our cause. Many of them have children and grandchildren and are excited to give them a gift with a purpose this holiday season.

What upcoming event are you most excited for and why?

The Deck the Chairs event in Jacksonville Beach. Ocean Sole has partnered with Beaches Go Green this year for an amazing art exhibit on the main stage at Seawalk Pavilion, running through New Year’s Eve. We are proud to be sponsors of this amazing event for this holiday season. We are raffling off one of our XXL Sea Turtles at the event, and all proceeds will go back to Deck the Chairs. Please come out to support this artfully fun event! We will have a booth there every Friday and Saturday night from 6-9 p.m. (weather permitting) throughout the event. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like spending time with my family and friends. I also love to walk the dog, walk on the beach, read and complete art projects with my family!


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