From beaches to cards

Greeting card shoppers may have noticed funky, colourful, Cayman-inspired cards on display at book stores throughout the island.


Juliet Austin, wit daughters Georgia and India, front, and dog Marley sit underneath Jalily greeting card artwork.
Photo: Norma Connolly

The Jalily collection, now in its fledgling stage, is the brainchild of Juliet Austin, a teacher on a year’s sabbatical who has found an outlet for her creative juices in the new cards that display Cayman beaches and sea-life in vibrant, eye-catching, cartoonish glory and prominently feature Mrs. Austin’s muses, her two daughters.

‘The whole concept was to show a real Caymanian childhood. My children just love being here. We love the ocean, and sailing and swimming. My kids are always in the water,’ she said.

The first three cards released last week show her six-year-old daughter India, a curly-haired moppet with a penchant for tutus and Wellington boots, diving for starfish in a phosphorous sea; snorkelling with fish, conches and crabs; and making a sand angel on a pristine beach.

The family dog Marley, a black Labrador, also makes an appearance on the ‘Curly Girl Collection’ cards, although he is disguised as yellow Lab for the purposes of brighter colouring.
Artwork for future cards on Mrs. Austin workshop – her living room table at the family home in Red Bay – show Georgia, 10, wearing her trademark beanie and pyjamas with her head in a book, with Marley, as ever, napping nearby.

The idea for the cards, which are blank inside so can be used for any occasion, was inspired by the numerous birthday parties to which her girls get invited every weekend.

‘I am constantly on the lookout for lovely cards that reflect the unique experience of growing up and living on this beautiful island but that also aren’t too expensive. For this reason, I have purposefully kept the retail price low as I know how expensive it can get buying cards for dozens of little socialites,’ Mrs. Austin said.

The cards, available at Books and Books, Book Nook, Hobbies and Books and Pure Art, among others, started life as watercolour paintings done by Mrs. Austin. Printed locally, she has done a print run of 1,000 of each card and sells them at $2.25 to $2.30.

Next step for the creative mom is a range of Christmas cards that incorporate elements of festive seasons past, when seafarers came home from sea to spend Christmas with the family.

Among the Christmas designs she is considering is one featuring the requisite little girl snoozing in a hammock strung between palm trees under which lie beautifully wrapped presents. In another, a little girl awaits the return of her father outside a traditional Cayman house, the front yard covered in white sand into which swirl designs have been brushed.

She said that while she hopes the cards will appeal to tourists, they are mostly targeted at people who live in Cayman who will recognise the scenes and relate to the carefree childhood images displayed.

Mrs. Austin called the company Jalily after her two daughters, a phonetic combination of Georgia and India’s second name Lily.

Having attended art college year ago, she took a year off from teaching at St Ignatius School to rediscover her creative side and spend more time with her children.

Exploring her creativity, she started out with a song which went on to win third place in a song contest and that is now being recorded by a local artist. Then came watercolour painting and the cards, then a giant mosaic of a mermaid, which she has built on the landing floor of the stairs at her home, and next comes a children’s fantasy fiction book of which she has already completed seven chapters.

And she claims it’s something everyone can do, taking time out of a day to paint, draw, write, play an instrument, write a song or knit, adding: ‘We get so caught up in being grown up and responsible, we forget to enjoy the wonderful things around us or to do what we truly love to do.’