How Drift Came To Be An Island Chic Fashion Company

Most great businesses have a great story. There is always some tale of immense passion that sparks the first stages of a new company.

Drift On Island is one of those great businesses with a great story of passion, talent, and just a splash of serendipity. We’re going to tell you how it all began.

Drift On Island Vice President Chelsea Combrink (left) and President Roberta Hurlburt met while living on Boca Grande, and now their business partnership is one-of-a-kind.

Drift On Island Vice President Chelsea Combrink (left) and President Roberta Hurlburt met while living on Boca Grande, and now their business partnership is one-of-a-kind.

The Beginning

Let’s backtrack to 2011 when Drift VP Chelsea, a Florida girl with a family history of antique boutiques and a passion for fashion, moved down to Boca Grande from Central Florida to run her parents’ boutique full-time and attend night school at Edison State College. (For those who don’t know what Boca Grande is, here’s the sitch: It’s a small island community off the southwest coast of Florida where people drive golf carts to each other’s houses, kids grow up exploring the waters, and locals radiate with good vibes.)

Then there’s Drift President Roberta, the creative mind whose designs sparked the basis for Drift’s signature island style. Roberta is from New Jersey and spends summers in Cape Cod, but the free spirit that she is, she ventured down to Boca Grande in search of an island getaway. She bought a condo on Boca Grande and soon enough began making friends all around the island and even became one of Chelsea’s greatest customers at the boutique. But Chelsea and Roberta’s journey had not begun yet.

Later that year, Chelsea moved to South Florida to attend the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale for a 3-year bachelor’s program in fashion merchandising. After those three years, Chelsea moved back to Boca Grande with her degree and her eye on the prize: a job in the fashion industry. It turns out that during that time, the friends Roberta made included Chelsea’s mother, her brother, and a couple of the other island locals. So when Chelsea returned, her mom suggested they stop by to see Roberta, because “she makes these hats that are natural and super funky.” This is the moment Chelsea formally met Roberta.

A Shared Passion

It wasn’t long after the initial hello’s that Chelsea realized Roberta’s talent extended far beyond her ability to make groovy hats. Roberta had spent the past few years making unique island fashions as a hobby, and Chelsea’s ripe business savvy saw an opportunity. She was blown away by Roberta’s designs, so she turned to her and said, “These are too beautiful to stay hidden in a closet for any longer.” She then went on to tell Roberta how she just graduated from the Art Institute and how it was her dream to take a talented designer such as Roberta and make her creations known.

Well, as you can imagine, Roberta was intrigued. She had been wanting to begin a business venture to keep her busy, but she wanted it to be fun, too. Chelsea’s idea for a fashion company sounded like the perfect fit. Roberta asked Chelsea to come back with her portfolio and completed work for an interview.

Cocktail Hour Creativity

The next day, Chelsea was hired on the spot, and as the two began working together on first steps for the business, it was obvious that this business relationship would be one-of-a-kind. When it was time to brainstorm a name for the company, the process was a bit unconventional: Roberta told Chelsea, “I need you to come over and drink some cocktails as we discuss business names, because if we can’t drink together, it’s not going to work.”

Clearly, the two can drink together.

The cocktail hour/ brainstorm session turned up a host of possible names for the company. As the two women scoured everything from seashell information books to nail polishes to magazines to flowers, the first few possible business names were things like White Birdy, Somewhere South, and Pow-Wow. And then came Drift On Island—the perfect, idyllic state of mind that embodies their passions.

Forever "On Island"

Ever since Chelsea and Roberta joined forces in 2015, they have been unstoppable. They already have over 40 new designs to share with you all, their lovely readers and customers. They’ve hired an outstanding design team that brought you the iconic, everlasting Drift logo. And they can’t wait to continue expanding as Drift reaches new shorelines and beach boutiques. Because there’s nothing quite like Drift On Island.

The saying rings true for these two entrepreneurs: You can achieve anything you put your mind to with a little hard work. Although, for Roberta and Chelsea, Drift is not considered work, because when you love what you do, it’s not a job. And when your studios are located in Boca Grande and Cape Cod, indulging in the “on island” lifestyle is exactly what they want to bring to you. Because in the words of Chelsea, “No one ever likes to be off island.”




The Drift Babes