Travels With Jim and Rita

Episode 20 - A Journey of Renewal and Creativity in San Miguel de Allende

May 31, 2024 Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast Season 1 Episode 20
Episode 20 - A Journey of Renewal and Creativity in San Miguel de Allende
Travels With Jim and Rita
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Travels With Jim and Rita
Episode 20 - A Journey of Renewal and Creativity in San Miguel de Allende
May 31, 2024 Season 1 Episode 20
Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast

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What if you could leave everything behind and start anew in a vibrant, culturally rich city? Join us as we wrap up our incredible journey in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This week, we reminisce about our adventures at the bustling Tuesday Market. Our special guest, Phyllis Gordon, provides an inspiring narrative about her spontaneous move from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta and finally to San Miguel. With over 20 years in Mexico, Phyllis enlightens us about her integration into local culture, her work in an antique store, and the creation of her bespoke clothing line, FlirtsSkirts.

We'll also take you behind the scenes of the vibrant Dia de los Locos festival, filled with handmade costumes and an undeniable sense of community. Through our discussion, we touch on the impacts of tourism and the growing expat community, reflecting on the importance of preserving local traditions. From personal anecdotes about the joys of fresh produce at the local market to the close-knit friendships we've formed, this episode offers a rich tapestry of stories. Whether you're passionate about travel, culture, or creative entrepreneurship, you'll find plenty to inspire and captivate you. Tune in for a memorable journey filled with heartfelt moments and valuable insights.

Instagram for FlirtsSkirts: @Flirtsskirts

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What if you could leave everything behind and start anew in a vibrant, culturally rich city? Join us as we wrap up our incredible journey in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This week, we reminisce about our adventures at the bustling Tuesday Market. Our special guest, Phyllis Gordon, provides an inspiring narrative about her spontaneous move from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta and finally to San Miguel. With over 20 years in Mexico, Phyllis enlightens us about her integration into local culture, her work in an antique store, and the creation of her bespoke clothing line, FlirtsSkirts.

We'll also take you behind the scenes of the vibrant Dia de los Locos festival, filled with handmade costumes and an undeniable sense of community. Through our discussion, we touch on the impacts of tourism and the growing expat community, reflecting on the importance of preserving local traditions. From personal anecdotes about the joys of fresh produce at the local market to the close-knit friendships we've formed, this episode offers a rich tapestry of stories. Whether you're passionate about travel, culture, or creative entrepreneurship, you'll find plenty to inspire and captivate you. Tune in for a memorable journey filled with heartfelt moments and valuable insights.

Instagram for FlirtsSkirts: @Flirtsskirts

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
https://www.youtube.com/@jimsantos508
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

Jim Santos:

Welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita. With Jim and Rita, I'm your host, jim Santos, and in this podcast series you can follow along as my wife Rita and I work out our crazy plan to outfox the real estate market in the US and actually increase our retirement nest egg by spending the next three years or so living abroad and exploring the world. Are we bold, forward-thinking pioneers or just plain nuts? Let's find out together, shall we? Hello everybody and welcome. I'm Jim here with my lovely wife Rita and you're listening to Travels with Jim and Rita. Well, we're finishing up our stay in Mexico. In fact, as this episode airs, we'll be packing our bags and getting ready to spend most of the following day traveling back to Knoxville for some doctor's appointments and to tie up a few loose ends. We've packed a lot into this last week in San Miguel de Allende and there will be at least one other podcast episode recorded here to follow. We'll also take some time to go over our impressions of Mexico in general and San Miguel in particular and catch you up on the nuts and bolts of our plan to explore the world while growing our nest egg. But that's in the future. This week we made another trip to the incredible Tuesday Market here and, if you're interested, you can see some pictures and video on our YouTube channel or on my blog at jimsantosbookscom slash blog. We also managed to meet up with a couple of special people here this week, and you're going to hear from one of them today.

Jim Santos:

Phyllis Gordon has been living in Mexico for over 20 years, most of that time here in San Miguel de Allende. We were lucky to meet her while having dinner with friends and even luckier to get her to agree to appear on the show. You know, one of the best parts of slow travel is that you have time to meet interesting people. It's amazing how quickly bonds can form between strangers who share a common love of travel and exposure to new cultures. Although we've only spent a few hours with her, we feel a closeness that's difficult to explain to those who have not experienced how the shared love of travel can bring people together. She's lived a fascinating life and she's also the designer of Flirt Skirts, her own line of bespoke clothing.

Jim Santos:

She joined us at our Airbnb to talk about her experiences here in this recorded interview. Now, it's been very warm here in Mexico, although the temperature has come down out of the 90s the last few days. So when we chatted with Phyllis here in our Airbnb all of the windows were open. So sorry in advance for the bird songs and occasional firecrackers, church bells etc in the background. Just makes it more authentic, right? At any rate, here's our interview with our new friend, phyllis Gordon. Phyllis, welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita and thanks for agreeing to speak with us today.

Phyllis Gordon:

It is really a pleasure to meet you both and to have some time with you.

Jim Santos:

I understand from our friends that you've been in Mexico for quite a while now, correct?

Phyllis Gordon:

Over 20 years. 20 years Full time.

Jim Santos:

And was that all in San Miguel de Allende?

Phyllis Gordon:

Nope, I started off in Puerto Vallarta on an adventure. Knew I was going to end up here somewhere, just wasn't sure where. Yeah, wow.

Jim Santos:

Let's go back a little bit. When did you first start thinking about living abroad?

Phyllis Gordon:

Didn't, didn't, I'm sorry. I really didn't. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I gave it no thought, no planning, absolutely nothing. I gave three days' notice at my job, jumped on a plane and went to Puerto Vallarta without knowing anything or anyone. So you knew you were going to move there. I knew I was going to stay in Mexico somewhere, okay.

Jim Santos:

Had you been to Mexico before?

Phyllis Gordon:

I had been. I had visited Vallarta before, but just a vacation kind of a thing. But, fell in love with the Mexican culture immediately.

Jim Santos:

Had you done travel to any other countries?

Phyllis Gordon:

Just very little the UK. That's all I've ever done besides Canada and Mexico. Those are quite different.

Jim Santos:

Yes, quite different and lovely. So where were you living when you decided to move to Mexico?

Phyllis Gordon:

Los Angeles, los Angeles. I had been there for close to 20 years as well, and it was time for a change. So that's almost a Mexican culture Almost yes, and in my neighborhood I did learn to speak Spanish.

Jim Santos:

So you did have some language before you moved.

Phyllis Gordon:

Just a little. Just enough to get by, but I needed a lot more.

Jim Santos:

When you moved, obviously 20 years ago, you were a much younger person and still working and everything. How did you support yourself when you first came to Nice?

Phyllis Gordon:

and Fun, I ended up finding work. I was fortunate enough that when I did get to San Miguel, enough that when I did get to San Miguel, I fell into a job situation in an antique store that was owned by a family from San Luis Potosi. They had beautiful, beautiful things. This was back in about 2003, 2004. They had an enormous store and great inventory, really just tons of antiques religious icons, santos for tableaus, colonial furniture you've been in a few stores like that.

Jim Santos:

Yes, there are still a few.

Phyllis Gordon:

This one is operating more out of the Lotus in Calco okay so they don't have a presence here in San Miguel.

Phyllis Gordon:

so I started there and it's probably the best education I've ever had, learning all about the history of Mexico and the furniture and the antiques and the retablos. It was really a lovely situation and I started there and that was the first job. Well, it took me. I had some clients from Puerto Vallarta that I had not known before. They owned a restaurant on the beach and he was an interior designer. They had a design showroom in Vallarta, in the old town. So they would come twice a year to San Miguel to buy antiques and such to take back to Puerto Vallarta to sell in their business. So I met them and on a couple of occasions when they would come they would say why don't you please come back to Vallarta and run our show? And one day they just caught me and it was like okay, and so I went back and it was a really wonderful decision I made because I was only in Vallarta the first time for a short amount of time and hadn't really connected with much of anything, and this led me to a whole new adventure.

Jim Santos:

There's two very different places in San Miguel and Puerto Vallarta.

Phyllis Gordon:

You're not kidding, and I really love the beach. I like being close to the water, right, and I'm not sure how familiar you are with Vallarta, but the expanse of that bay is breathtakingly beautiful from wherever you are in Vallarta. It's just, it's incredible. So I do love being close to the water, but San Miguel usually is a lot more comfortable weather-wise than Puerto Vallarta Totally different.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we've been suffering through a bit of a heat wave.

Phyllis Gordon:

Quite a bit of a heat wave. It's going on almost a month now.

Jim Santos:

I think it's our fault. I think we brought it here.

Phyllis Gordon:

I think it is too. Well then, I'm ready for you to leave. Yeah, we brought it here from Playa del Carmen, oh yes, unless you want to bring us some rain real quick.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, Actually, when we were in Panama in January, February and a little bit of March, they had unseasonally warm.

Phyllis Gordon:

So it was you guys.

Jim Santos:

So it was just us.

Phyllis Gordon:

Okay, we're done with that. My Lord, it's following us. It is, that is true.

Rita Santos:

Because it has been a longer heat wave for us and the highest temperatures we've ever experienced consistently, and because most of these properties do not have air conditioning or heaters, or heaters, or the winters, do you?

Phyllis Gordon:

need heaters. I have lived without a heater. I'm someone who likes to sleep in a cold room Okay, but the mornings and our winter I mean, if you can call it that really only lasts about six weeks and we don't get Chicago cold by any means. You don't have snow. No, I've experienced snow here one time in all the years I've been here. So yeah, no air conditioning.

Jim Santos:

Given how much you love the beach. What was it that brought you back to San Diego?

Phyllis Gordon:

Okay, well, I was given an opportunity. It was really an interesting situation that brought me back. The businesses were slowing down in Vallarta at this particular time, which was around 2011, 2012 it was falling off a little bit and I had met a friend here before I went to Vallarta, a very good friend from Louisiana also, but we only met one another here. He had built himself a really lovely house. He was suffering from a very rare eye disease, so San Miguel was getting harder and harder for him to navigate, and he was single. Navigate and he was single.

Phyllis Gordon:

And so one day I got a phone call in Vallarta and Mark said I have a proposition for you. It's like I'm all ears. And he said I can no longer navigate San Miguel, and I'm considering going back up to Louisiana. I don't need to sell my house I'm not really sure what I wanna do with it but I'd like for you to come live in it. I would like to pay you to live in it and cover the expenses, and this was a really lovely 4,000 square foot house on 770 square meters of garden Wow. So I hung up the phone and ran over here as fast as I could.

Jim Santos:

Reluctantly agreed.

Phyllis Gordon:

Was it near Centro? It was. It was right off of the Ancha. As you're going up the Ancha, the left-hand side is the Instituto. If you continue going up, there is a pravada on the right which is Bay Instituto. Right If you continue going up, there is a probata on the right which is Bayonetta, and it was on this little dead end street. That's wonderful, it was wonderful.

Jim Santos:

Well over that time, there's certainly not a lot that large right now in the area that you described. You must have seen a lot of changes.

Phyllis Gordon:

Oh my gosh, it's hard the changes I've seen because I moved to San Miguel. I had never heard of it. Oh okay, I was in Vallarta. I was studying Spanish with this really lovely Mexican girl whose family lived in the Idubato area and also in the San Miguel area. Family lived in the Idubato area and also in the San Miguel area, and one day she woke up and decided she was tired of Vallarta and was going to move to.

Phyllis Gordon:

San Miguel. And when she told me this that she would, our Spanish lessons would be discontinued I said where are you going? And she said San Miguel de Allende. I said great me too. And she said, oh, you like it. I said great me too. And she said, oh, you like it. I said never heard of it, I just knew, you know, this is an opportunity to go check someplace out. As it turns out, she did not make the move and so I came and at that time like I said, about 2002, it was a tiny, dusty little town where you actually saw burros working every day, like several different little trains of burros you would encounter every day. There was absolutely nothing. It was a better experience back then, because now it appears it's all about tourism and it wasn't even a UNESCO World Heritage Site back then, so it wasn't on the map and I kind of had left Vallarta, also because living in a tourist city, We've done that before.

Jim Santos:

I bet you have.

Phyllis Gordon:

It really kind of kills it for you and I'm sorry to say that's what has happened here. It's kind of what's happened. Have y'all heard of Dia de los Locos? It's a very big fiesta here. It starts it's during the month of June and it is the the month of June. They celebrate San Antonio, Okay, the whole little area and the saint. The day itself is the 13th of June and whatever Sunday falls closest to that they do this enormous parade and it is one of the greatest things you could ever see, because it's like a much more humbler version of Mardi Gras. Way back when they have groups, they don't call them crews like they do at Mardi Gras. Way back when they have groups, they don't call them crews like they do at Mardi Gras, but they are different civic groups, they're different neighborhoods and they all plan their costumes around a particular theme. I think there were 3,000 participants in the parade last year and these are the most fabulous costumes, the greatest imagination they make their costumes they are not buying these Apple from Amazon or whatever.

Phyllis Gordon:

So lots of paper mache and just ideas and creativity. That is amazing. Now it's. It goes on and on and on, and it's usually the hottest day of the year and and they will be dressed in these costumes with these big hands as well. Supposedly last year, 100,000 people were here to win.

Jim Santos:

Now, if you can imagine that's a lot of people in these little streets.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yeah, it's a lot. So it's we're seeing the same thing. People come here. Well, there's fiestas in San Miguel, more in this city than any other city in Mexico.

Jim Santos:

Well, we've seen parades just about every time. Yeah right, We've enjoyed it People drumming and dancing.

Phyllis Gordon:

It is awesome.

Rita Santos:

Yeah.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yeah, but there is, so it's drawing more and more tourism and such.

Rita Santos:

But yeah, well, I tell you, those parades during New Year's and right before the beginning of Lent, yeah, oh, my goodness, when those people descended on the beach I know it's just so many people I mean they were able to take care of it, but the trash after they left.

Phyllis Gordon:

I remember Semana Santa in Puerto Vallarta. It was just a mess, yeah.

Rita Santos:

And it would take a week for the town to recover that is something we've noticed here, despite the number of people here. It's very clean.

Jim Santos:

The town is very clean and people really. When you go out in the morning, the first thing you see are people sweeping out of their homes, washing down the sidewalks.

Phyllis Gordon:

And they take pride in their work. Yes, I mean it's wonderful to see. Have you been to Mexico City? No, no, it's even cleaner. It's on the list, really it is, it is. It's such an enormous city. I look forward to y'all visiting.

Rita Santos:

Mexico City.

Phyllis Gordon:

Now Buenos.

Rita Santos:

Aires we have been is immaculate.

Phyllis Gordon:

Isn't it? That's hard to imagine.

Jim Santos:

With the changes you've seen here, do you think you're kind of falling out of love with Senegal? Are you thinking about moving to another location?

Phyllis Gordon:

I have lost a lot of that love that I started off with here. I've become disenchanted and I understand the newcomers and when they get here here, how they fall in love immediately because it is gorgeous, it is wonderful, usually the climate okay, we really do enjoy a lovely climate. I don't see myself going anywhere, but I'm open to any changes. But I don don't and that's how and that is how I live my life. I mean, as you can see, something comes up and it's like, ah, okay, I like that.

Jim Santos:

So if we run, across a 4,000 square foot home in Bavaria, you'd be interested?

Phyllis Gordon:

Right, exactly, why not? I mean that was, and I ended up selling that house out from underneath myself. That, and I ended up selling that house out from underneath myself. That was one of the craziest things I've ever done. I could probably still be in it today, but the market was heating up here in San Miguel and I just thought well, let's just, mark, are you interested in just seeing? And he came up with a price after I was told what it could go for. And he said I have nothing to lose by putting it on the market, but I'm not going to take one cent less than my asking price, so don't even come to me with these bids and these offers.

Jim Santos:

And he sold it for more well, I assume when you first got here, there also was not a big expat presence in the area.

Phyllis Gordon:

There wasn't. It was okay. Let me see if I can qualify this real quickly. When I decided to come here, I was so enchanted and curious about the culture in this country. What little I had seen of it had absolutely changed my life. It just opened my eyes. It brought more color into my world. It was just fascinating to me and so I came for that reason. I didn't come to stretch my retirement dollars and make them go further. I didn't come to have an American lifestyle. I'm very fortunate in where I live in San Antonio, For about at least a four block radius. I know every one of my neighbors. I've been in every one of their houses. I do my best to speak the language, so it was a cultural thing that brought me here.

Phyllis Gordon:

What has happened over the years is a lot of expats coming to stretch their retirement dollars and have a different experience than life in the United States. I get it, I understand. It's not so much like that anymore because of the dollar and the peso, but a lot of expats that go to foreign countries have a tendency to complain.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yeah, oh yeah, oh God. So I try. I really don't participate that much in the expat community, right, of course I have my own business and so it does, you know, feed into that customers yeah, but if you're living in a foreign country, yeah, you're gonna borrow a city. Okay, embrace it and don't complain. And if you have a complaints, then maybe go back to where you're from, because it's not. It's different here. It's not better, it's not worse, it's not. It's different here. It's not better, it's not worse, it's just different.

Jim Santos:

It's a different culture that's why we travel is to see things that are different. I love you guys for doing this.

Rita Santos:

I'm so envious of your lifestyle we enjoy it and honestly I know people think we're crazy, but every place we go we can live here.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yeah, I understand that. I do. I absolutely do.

Jim Santos:

Well, part of that is that Rita was a realtor for 32 years, so she can't go to the bathroom without looking at real estate possibilities around her.

Rita Santos:

Okay, the truth is out. That's what I made the most money in my life was the properties I had listed my own. You know, right, the most money in my life was the properties I had listed my own.

Jim Santos:

Right, right, so it's so we walked down the street and oh, that one's for sale.

Rita Santos:

And my dad was a developer.

Jim Santos:

Maybe we just haven't been here long enough to see it or haven't seen it in enough areas, but although there is a big expat presence, it seems more blended with the community than in some other places that we've been. Yeah, I think so. You don't have the massive like Gringolandia where this is all just expats living.

Phyllis Gordon:

No, there are a couple of areas.

Jim Santos:

We've seen some like condos and some gated communities, but they're small Like six or twelve places, but I think the Mexicans live in gated communities.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yes, they do.

Rita Santos:

So it's not just the Mex-pat doing that.

Phyllis Gordon:

No, you're absolutely right about that, and there's quite a few of those in the neighborhood and in the areas outside of Centro and stuff.

Rita Santos:

There's quite a few, and I don't see that as a bad thing. No no, it's about security, because you can leave.

Jim Santos:

But on the other hand, at the local Mercado, when we're in there, we don't see an awful lot of gringos.

Rita Santos:

No, right here where you're Because we buy from here and Tuesday market too.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, yesterday we went to the Tuesday market. How did you like it? It's wonderful.

Phyllis Gordon:

It is. It's like being dropped in an ant farm.

Rita Santos:

I know, but we kind of gravitated to that kind of thing Even in. Turkey. Even in Turkey we gravitated to markets. We gravitated to that. I would love to go to Turkey.

Phyllis Gordon:

Oh yeah, that's. It was a fabulous experience. I would imagine it was Did. Did y'all eat while you were up at the Tuesday?

Jim Santos:

Market. No, we had been there once before, but we didn't stay very long and we picked up a few things. Yeah, we bought those. So we really wanted to go back and spend some more time there, right, and we found it was much bigger than we thought.

Rita Santos:

The second time I couldn't believe how huge it was.

Jim Santos:

It is huge, but we had also wanted to stop and check out the mall over there at the Liverpool store Right the mall over there at the Liverpool store to get an idea of that. So we didn't really want to be carrying around a bunch of groceries, I understand.

Rita Santos:

But the other time we did buy from there.

Jim Santos:

But if we were living here, we would go there every week and buy as much produce and fruit and gas as we could.

Rita Santos:

Yes, and why people would go to Comair and City Market when they've got that is completely amazing to me.

Jim Santos:

Yes, it is the food was not only fresher, the produce not only look fresher and better and cheaper yes but they had things we couldn't find at the supermarket, like strawberries and blueberries.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yes, there's green beans. It's interesting because where I live, right across the street from where I live, on Tuesdays this garage door opens up. All the local neighborhood ladies start lining up and about 11 o'clock a truck pulls up, the garage doors open. The truck pulls in and opens his back doors and starts displaying and every Tuesday there is vegetables and fruit and it is so fresh and it's definitely less expensive than what you're going to pay, and it is an every Tuesday thing and there are a few gringos in the neighborhood that will get in the line with the ladies and everything. But I mean, how wonderful is that?

Rita Santos:

I mean, that's right to my door. That is like no different than European living. You go and buy your fruit, you go and buy your vegetables, you go and buy your bread.

Jim Santos:

There's the night market in Vienna, the little market in.

Rita Santos:

Positano or the huge one in Florence. All of these sound so amazing. I am so envious. Yeah, positano, the little market or the huge one in Florence?

Phyllis Gordon:

Yeah, oh my gosh, All of these sound so amazing. I am so envious the people who don't buy in the markets.

Jim Santos:

It's picked that morning and you're eating it that evening, Right, what would you say is the best part of your life here?

Phyllis Gordon:

My friend. Yes, I'm probably at the best place I've been in my life. I have such a wonderful close group of friends that actually feels like family and we're all pretty much on the same page with you know most of our lives and the support we have for one another. It is amazing and it is really a beautiful time. Yeah, so that that would be the best part, and I guess just having the opportunity to live in such an amazing country yeah that's pretty awesome yeah, it is awesome and having the wherewithal to want to do it yeah you know, I was having this discussion with my sister today.

Phyllis Gordon:

She said well, you've always, you've always jumped and you've always landed on your feet well, let's talk about flirt skirts oh my let's did you have a background in fashion? No, no, yes, very early on, when I was in high school, before I went to college, you know, just a retail job and. But then I was able. They asked me to go to market and do the buying for their stores.

Rita Santos:

I was 17 years old. Oh, that's crazy.

Phyllis Gordon:

So, and you know that was a period of my life that you know, in 17, 18, you don't know really what you're doing, and it wasn't something I wanted to make a career out of. So, way back when Flirt Skirts started in Puerto Vallarta, when I had agreed to go back with Terry and Peter Bowman to work in their business, I got there and it was really, really hot. I enjoy looking nice. I don't enjoy wearing pants when it's 100,000 degrees out and humidity, and so I couldn't find much of what I would like to wear. It's amazing, though Some fabrics are tough, no, and especially how they're made and how they're cut, and that gives them a flow.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yeah, okay. So I had seen this design for a wrap-around skirt that's been around forever and it's reversible, and so I thought, well, that would be a good skirt for me to have to work in and look nice and feel nice. So I found some fabrics and then I decided to make one myself, and it's six yards, so there's a lot of fabric, and I cut it out on my bed and I cut the. I accidentally cut the bedspread all up and all that stuff it wasn't mine, but that's okay.

Phyllis Gordon:

I replaced it and so I finished it. It wasn't made to sell by any means. It was so shoddily done but you couldn't tell it. You know it's what they would call a 10 footer.

Phyllis Gordon:

It looks good from 10 feet yeah so with about walking out of my house that day first time, I wore it. Within five minutes I was stopped on the street by two lovely ladies saying that's such a beautiful skirt, thank you. And so I did it again a couple months later, because it was difficult to find the fabrics that I liked. Um, did it again. Same thing happened. So I started paying attention and this was a high-end design showroom and just beautiful, beautiful things everywhere.

Jim Santos:

So I wanted to play the part.

Phyllis Gordon:

Anyway, it was just a skirt and a t-shirt. Well, I finally found a wonderful seamstress that could actually copy and make the skirts professionally for me. So I would spend my time in the store and then I would seek out fabrics Fabrics, right, and that's not as easy as you think and then she would make them for me. So she would deliver them or I'd pick them up, like once a week. Well, I would have them. Okay, this is with no internet. I mean internet, yes, but no social media, no Facebook, nothing, alright. So I would wear these to work. I would have a tag hanging from my skirt, I would have three or four extra ones just in a chair, because I needed the emphasis to be on the store where.

Phyllis Gordon:

I was working, not me and my inventory. And people would say do you know you have a tag hanging from your skirt? And I would say did you know that this skirt is for sale? And then that would start and I would wear my skirts. I mean, if I had to run an errand or go to lunch, I would always have the tag out, yeah, and so it always caught attention.

Phyllis Gordon:

So I was invited to big fashion shows and this, that and the other, and it just kind of took off. I had no business plan whatsoever. No, no thought to a business at all.

Jim Santos:

So it started on its own Seems like a major theme in your life. Yeah, yes.

Phyllis Gordon:

There's a reason for all of that. So during one high season, which is approximately five months, I sold and I have the records 477 skirts, all one of a kind yeah, okay, with no advertising, no social media, no. So then it was like maybe I need to, yeah yeah, focus on this, yeah. Yeah, so Flirts has developed into. Now it's more than just the great skirts, it also I came up with the concept for reversible dresses, and it's amazing our parents, our mothers, didn't have reversible dresses for us as kids.

Phyllis Gordon:

I know, isn't it? I mean really, and truly because it would have made their life so much easier. I use polyester fabrics, which are so sustainable and they're so easy to care for and the packability is amazing. I do the reversible dresses and now I'm doing these really flowy tops, that I do the skirts and for people that don't want to do skirts, I do the dresses. For the people that don't want to show their arms, I do the tops, and they all go really well together.

Phyllis Gordon:

They travel beyond anything. I put 96 pieces of my line in one suitcase with a rack. Okay, that is so amazing to me. So, yeah, I do really well and have a lot of fun with it. Yeah, pop-up sales.

Jim Santos:

Do you sell any online now, or is this just for the local market?

Phyllis Gordon:

It's mostly local, but I have clients in the States and so I will reach out to them.

Phyllis Gordon:

When I get new merchandise and I have people, um, there's always someone coming and going to the States from here and I will have them mule up my the skirts or whatever's being bought and have them mail it off for me. So that's cool. Yeah, it works. You know, I've had a lot of problems with. I just need to figure out the manufacturing part of it more. Right now I'm dependent on some local seamstresses and a tailor who have become family to me, um, but to support themselves they, they suffer a lot of other people and they're not always available and that's been a little snag, but I'm okay.

Jim Santos:

But you know something else we meet a lot of women at the international living conferences that we talk at who are thinking about a life abroad but just can't bring themselves to make that leap. Do you have any advice? I mean, you've been so courageous to just go ahead and take chances and move and jump in your life. Do you have any advice for women, especially who are considering a move?

Phyllis Gordon:

Well, first of all, I would say you can do anything you really want to do. Any situation that I am presented with that requires a decision. I have gotten very comfortable in the question why not? Because we're so quick to say, oh no, I can't do that, and I just mean in general, not even regards to moving to a foreign country. Why not? It's like, well, you can always come up with a reason, but if you sit with that for a second, you can usually work through that and go.

Rita Santos:

Well, yes, yes, yes, I can, I absolutely can, you know because it doesn't matter if you make a boo-boo, you can readjust.

Phyllis Gordon:

I agree completely. Now the advice I would give or the suggestions I would make I would visit different places and if you think there's a particular place that you are interested in spending more time in, I would rent, rent, rent for six months minimum to test the waters and see how it works for you, because so many people have never lived in a foreign country and feel like, yeah, I can do this, and they get here and other places and buy houses and it doesn't always work.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, we've done that, but it's always worked out. Yeah, exactly, but those people normally who jump. We've known people who have moved close to us in Ecuador bought something, stayed six months and the woman had such phobia she couldn't even leave her condo.

Phyllis Gordon:

Oh my, I can't even believe they were able to make that move Unless her husband went.

Rita Santos:

And when she first came I never noticed that behavior. But the longer she, so people do change and sometimes it's not tolerable for them to live among a different culture.

Jim Santos:

Well as you know, there's a difference between visiting and living.

Phyllis Gordon:

Yes, absolutely. I'll tell you something else that is really important on adaptability yes, that's super important, and I think most people would consider living somewhere else. I've had friends that say well, I don't speak the language. Well, I didn't either, and there's ways around that. And if you're going to stay, then it would be a good idea to learn the language. We would certainly appreciate it here in Mexico, san Miguel. Yeah, so I would just say rent and get your bearings and see how you like it, and if it doesn't work, you can always turn around and go back or find another place.

Rita Santos:

Yes.

Jim Santos:

Well, we've been talking with Phyllis Gordon, long-time resident of Mexico and San Miguel de Allende and the creative genius behind Flirt Skirts. If you want to get your flirt on, you can check out some of her collection of women's wear on her Instagram by going to @Flirts Skirts. And that's two S's in the middle, and, don't worry, the link will also be in the show notes. Well, Phyllis, thanks for sharing your story with us on Travels with Jim and Rita.

Phyllis Gordon:

First of all, thank you for asking me. I am grateful for that opportunity, but getting to know you two better and having some time and just exploring these areas and these ideas with y'all is just a real pleasure.

Jim Santos:

So I thank you. And we certainly hope, our paths cross again.

Phyllis Gordon:

They will, you know they will.

Jim Santos:

Before we go, a reminder that Rita and I will be at the 2024 Ultimate Go Overseas Boot Camp coming up in Las Vegas, nevada, october 26th through 28th. If I don't freak out from stage fright, you can see me give a couple of presentations and we'll both be in the exhibit hall to answer questions about slow travel, the places we have visited and our plans for the future. There will be expats and experts from around the world and if you're interested in attending, check out intliving/ events that's intliving. c/ events for more information or to make reservations. That's it for this week's show. Keep listening and keep spreading the word on social media. If you can, please take a moment to leave a rating and review and, of course, subscriptions are always welcome. If you have any questions or you'd like to tell your own story, email me at jim@ jimsantosbooks. com. You can also find my books and short stories on my Amazon page at jimsantos. net. Until next time, remember we travel not to escape life, but so that life does not escape us.

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