Casa Del Rio collection Xan models
Casa Del Rio collection sister Michelle models

One evening a friend  introduced me to a woman in a local restaurant in Fort Pierce.  We began a conversation and I realized that I had found my next Treasures of Fort Pierce ‘Discovery”. That’s what I love about this amazing town, you never know what you will find right under your own nose. The remarkable local woman I met was Misty Padrick Minton. She and her 3 daughters started a small business 4 years ago as a way to solve of problem, of course.  The timing and the connections could not have been more perfect. Shirelle Minton Sioui had been in the fashion designing business and as an intern designer at Kate Spade she created her 1st purse. Xan, another daughter is in marketing and Michelle models for the company. Misty is the mom, the investor, the photographer and business extraordinaire. The team of 4  make this woman run company a powerful family affair that is relentless in bringing luxury, quality and service to their exclusive customer.

Misty invited me for a visit at their home   “Casa Del Rio”  located on the beautiful Indian River drive and as  I pulled up to the estate whose name was used to brand  their business venture, I noticed the 1920’s old Florida charm. This is the home where Misty grew up.  I was greeted with the typical warm southern hospitality as I entered the stately “casa”.  Misty introduced me to Shirelle, her daughter and the “designer”.  I sat in a room with a view and was in awe of the magnificent home. My first question for my interview came from knowing that their merchandise was made out of Wild American alligator skins, so the topic seemed controversial. Misty quickly reported that, “Since 1988, the Florida Wildlife Conservation & Commission began what is now the most successful wildlife management program of the wild alligator”. As I prodded further, I found out that it was established to “emphasize the conservation of alligator populations for their ecological, aesthetic, and economic values while providing for public use and safety”. So, when Misty’s nephew Grayson Padrick, a former NASA engineer and Alligator Hunter, could not sell his hides during the 2009 economic demise, Misty approached her purse designer daughter Shirelle about a business plan that would achieve many goals. As they both told me their story, it played out like a modern-day movie. Misty bought some of the hides, had then tanned while Shirelle designed a prototype bag that she brilliantly pitched to Henri Bendel in New York during their annual open call to new designers. It was a shot in the dark. But,  Shirelle made it through to a trunk show, the rest fell into place. Our conversation included the topic of women entrepreneurs in America. That’s when Shirelle, beautiful and poised looked at me and said, “The recession of 2009, opened the door for women to take the initiative to step up and start a small business”. As a matter of fact, the women in their family are so inspiring that they included them in their brand by naming the handbag collections after a particular woman in their family ancestry.

What’s next for this relentless family? They want to expand their awareness, and designs but keep their integrity intact. They purposely give back by working in connection with the South Florida Water Management District, Casa del Rio aids in the preservation and protection of the Florida alligator’s natural habitat. 10% of all Casa del Rio profits are donated to projects aimed at improving regional water quality, hydrology and ecology.

http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/alligator/harvest/

To visit the Casa de Rio collection website click the coin:

Treasures of Fort Pierce
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Plythe Freedman holds a MA in Youth Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary. She is a mother of two. Her passion for small businesses and her community has been displayed through her many hours of volunteering and meeting with city officials to assist in promoting Fort Pierce. She is also a former board member of Grace Way Village, a non profit organization that helps clothe and feed disadvantaged children. She is a former member of the Chamber of Commerce and a former Royal Palms member. She served on the RDC advisory board at Suncoast Mental Health Center. And She was appointed by a City Commissioner to serve on the CRA Advisory Committee as the chair. She worked with Frontline For Kids as their public relations specialist and had her own column in the Lincoln Park Main Street Showcase. Plythe's goal is to promote Fort Pierce as a destination for families to visit, live, work and play.

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