Outer Banks Articles & Shorts - Issue 20: Summer 2019

Publisher's Letter

Does your life typically go as planned? I would be one of those people who would answer yes to that question … that is, until last week at the gym when I tore my meniscus and connector. What? This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me! I have a plan!

But then it started me thinking in an interesting way when I sat down to write this hello to all of you readers of this summer issue. I began to consider all the ways that so many of the business owners who are highlighted in this magazine have had to respond to change, dance in the moment or creatively figure out how to deal with what seemed like one of life’s curve balls.

People like John Harris from Kitty Hawk Kites who had to convince the world that hang gliding was the new sports craze by being the first to fly off Grandfather Mountain. Can you imagine the courage that took?!

People like Vanessa Foreman, owner of the Crystal Dawn, who has had to learn every aspect of running and maintaining a massive head boat following the death of her husband.  She has persevered.

People like Gail Kowalski of Jewelry by Gail who came to the Outer Banks in the 1970s with only a plan to combine her jewelry making with her love for Nags Head but who had to adapt and change as storms blew through her space or when, yep, she once set herself on fire in her studio.

Or people like Liz Dowless, owner of Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet, who, like Vanessa, lost her husband not long after they bought the restaurant and who had to go it alone. Of course, she found out she was anything but alone.

Anyone who owns a business – as in every single person and their business featured in articles contained herein  – has had to be creative and courageous and tenacious to make it work here on the Outer Banks. They’ve figured out how to pay the bills in the winter, how to deal with employee  shortages, how to get it back together after storms, how to support each other’s businesses in a competitive, yet wonderfully connected, market.

I’ve long appreciated that the relatively small size of the Outer Banks means that we know each other’s stories better than would be possible in a city. We celebrate each other’s successes, and we offer heartfelt support when the unplanned happens. Like Liz, we sometimes don’t even see how wide our net is, how full it is of friends until the unplanned occurs. But the beauty is that, once seen, we don’t un-see, and these islands and people, however small in size they might be, stretch to fill every space within our hearts.



Dolphin Dreams Come True on Outer Banks Cruises

By Hannah Lee Leidy
Climb aboard the 55-foot Captain Johnny for the longest-running dolphin watch experience on the Outer Banks. As they enter their 25th season, Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours has the business of spotting bottlenose dolphins down to a science. Their 99% success rate for sightings has earned them a reputation for... Read More

All in the Name of Style

By Molly Harrison
In 1986 Billie and Jim Steese took a bet on Duck’s fledgling retail scene and opened a women’s fashion boutique on the northern Outer Banks. It was Billie’s mother who suggested the name Lady Victorian because it fits so well with her daughter’s design aesthetic, rich as it is with antiques and vintage goodness. “I... Read More

Classic Vibes and a Modern Menu

By Molly Harrison
Everyone longs, in varying degrees, for the way the Outer Banks used to be. Little pockets of that satisfying nostalgia still can be found in places like Old Nags Head Cafe. Situated in a 1930s building, this gem of a restaurant feels like visiting in a friend’s Nags Head beach cottage in the 1960s, with the welcome... Read More

45 Years of Teaching the World to Fly: Kitty Hawk Kites

By Molly Harrison
Before the age of 24, Kitty Hawk Kites co-founder John Harris never intended to pursue a career in recreational aviation, but he remembers the pivotal moment that sent him in that direction. Living in Winston-Salem, N.C., after college in 1973, John saw a photograph in the Winston-Salem Journal of a man flying an... Read More

Meet the Locals: The Outer Banks Dolphins

By Hannah Lee Leidy
Who else shamelessly interrupts your friends and demands that they look at the ocean the minute you think you see a dorsal fin in the ocean or sound? Like so many people, I grew up loving dolphins. I had no exposure to the actual creatures, which made them all the more intriguing to me. I learned the Flipper theme... Read More