Lowcountry Gal to the Core

After living the majority of her life on Hilton Head Island, Jody is the epitome of a “native” and describes herself as “Lowcountry to the core.” But Jody’s journey to South Carolina didn’t begin with her, or even her parent’s story. It all was made possible when her German grandfather was held as a POW by the Soviets during WWII and befriended an American soldier while in the prison camp. The American soldier promised Jody’s grandfather that if they made it out of the war alive, he would come back to Germany with his small private plane all the way from Butler, MO and bring her grandfather, grandmother and their two sons (one of which is Jody’s father) to America for a new life. Amazingly the American soldier kept his word! Jody’s grandfather was given a job at a bookstore in small-town Missouri and laid the foundation for a new future for his family.

At just six months old, Jody’s family stumbled upon a hidden coastal gem and relocated to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina from Kansas City, Missouri. Mind you at the time, Hilton Head could only be accessed by a draw bridge, had one grocery store, one payphone and little to no development. The community was comprised of dirt roads, a one-lane highway passing through (now hwy 278), and a small cluster of local living communities, or as they call them “Plantations.” Jody spent her childhood with other native children including many of the Gullah descent.

Jody and her family quickly became acclimated to their new low country lifestyle.  During early childhood, Jody found a passion for ballet and gymnastics. As she became older and equally advancing at both, her gym coach and ballet instructor encouraged her to choose one of the two to focus on primarily. Jody decided on gymnastics and became a competitive gymnast for the next sixteen years. Jody ultimately went on to attend Nationals where she won 2nd place on the balance beam and 11th all-around as a level 9 gymnast. She spent her evenings after school in the car to travel to Savannah, GA to train for intense 5-hour sessions. Having the utmost discipline, her car rides were designated for homework and studies, as this was the only free time she had and still managed to maintain straight A grades.

With high school approaching, Jody found a desire to find some freedom and try out for the cheerleading squad. As an 8th grader, she joined the varsity squad early and said “farewell” to gymnastics after finally feeling burnt out. She saw how they did a lot of dancing with cheerleading which seemed so much more fun, so she went on to cheer up until high school graduation. During those 4-5 years, her squad was in the Gator Bowl halftime show as an award for winning a national cheerleading competition.

After graduating high school a semester early, Jody was confident she would follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in graphic design. Jody’s father was one of the few graphic designers on Hilton Head in its prime stages of commercial development, so she was surrounded by her father’s work from gated community housing logo signs to restaurant menus, and much more. He was responsible for much of the design and branding of some of the island’s staples including Sea Pines, Daufuskie Island, Rose Hill, Melrose, Haig Point, Indigo Run and so much more.

While looking at colleges, Jody decided on Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. It was the ideal setting for her – close to home, on the beach, and had a notable graphic design program. Her freshman dorm was one of the rooms in the Ponce de Leon hotel, an allegedly haunted hotel on the campus designed and built by Henry Flagler himself.

Upon graduating Flagler in 2003 with a major in Graphic Design and a minor in Fine Arts and Advertising, Jody took her first dip into the industry. She began working for a printing company where she learned the operations of printing processes from start to finish. She became versed in color theory, setting up files, troubleshooting with files, and communicating with clients. Soon after, Jody worked as the Marketing Director for a startup Commercial Real Estate firm until the market crashed in 2007.

After a quick relocation to Raleigh, North Carolina Jody decided to return to her home town of Hilton Head. There she managed the Quarter Deck at Sea Pines and continued to pursue graphic design on the side. Throughout her various roles thereafter, Jody continued to maintain her love for graphic design and gained much more diverse experience and techniques along the way. She even briefly worked for a professional photographer where her responsibilities included photo editing, assisting in photoshoots and more. Jody became the marketing coordinator and lead graphic designer for the SERG Restaurant Group, an award-winning family of restaurants in the Hilton Head area. While she was thriving in her new role and enjoying her time close to family. She began communicating with an old childhood friend, “Adam”.

Adam and Jody grew up together and went to the same schools, as their mothers were close friends. Jody even babysat his little sister on several occasions in her tween years. Jody and Adam, both in their 30s, realized they may have a romantic connection. Jody decided to visit Adam in Charleston and immediately realized he was the guy for her. She quickly left Hilton Head behind after giving her work a quick “two-week notice” and moved to Charleston to be with Adam. While searching for a job in Charleston, she stumbled upon a role as lead printer for a sign company where she managed large Roland printers, plotters and lamenting machines. She received a call from a recruiter that shared a role made for Jody – a graphic designer and marketing coordinator for a commercial real estate firm in Charleston!

After receiving a job offer from Lee & Associates Charleston, Jody was eager to excel in her new role. While she was set to begin in early January 2018, the “snowpocalypse” shut down Charleston and Jody’s start was delayed a few weeks.

Jody and Adam were engaged in California in June of 2017 and married on October 13th, 2018 on the Isle of Palms beach by Adam’s uncle. The two are parents to sweet Luckie, a 3-year-old lab/pitbull mix rescue. The couple purchased their first home in October 2017 in West Ashley. Jody is the middle of two other sisters and a proud auntie to 3 nephews and 2 nieces! Jody enjoys rooting for the Clemson Tigers with her husband as he is a proud graduate. She is also a big animal lover; her favorite other than dogs, of course, are monkeys. She looks forward to every opportunity she has to visit her family in her hometown which luckily, is less than two hours away and also home to her husband’s family.

Jody and Adam two started a tradition last year with an annual vacation to a surprise destination of Adam’s choice. The tradition started with their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. Adam does the planning and sees just how long he can keep the surprise going. October 13th marks wedding anniversary number one for these two. I wonder where they will end up?

 

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