Have you ever heard of Tracy Porter? I learned about her a few years ago from my sister-in-law who said I had to check out her blog and her videos. At the time she was living near Princeton Wisconsin with her husband and their four boys (Max, Finn, Siggy and Gus) on a small hobby farm and selling homewares, clothes, handprinted plates, etc. through their online store Tracy Porter.
She also posted videos of her favorite recipes and gave advice on how to style her home, etc. Although her style was too much for me with LOTS of layers and layers, it was in keeping with her bohemian brand and it was always fun to see what she was displaying. Her videos were upbeat and enthusiastic as she pitched her lifestyle brand, style and merchandise. In fact, here is a link to her video showing how to make the most delicious cheese appetizer with brie, bacon and marmalade – you will LOVE it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE7ciKU5KM4
Her online catalogue was ever-expanding and she had built a huge following and was also selling her wares through major retailers.
Tracy and her husband John were both models, starting their company in 1991 in a chicken coop behind their house in Wisconsin. Their promotional information declared that they had built a “multimillion dollar business” under the Tracy Porter label. Things seemed to be going gangbusters and my friends and I speculated that she was trying to land her own national TV show like a boho-Martha Stewart.
Suddenly, out-of-the-blue, they decided to put their Wisconsin house up for sale and move to the Santa Barbara area where they opened a Tracy Porter shop on State Street. I actually visited the shop as my business takes me to Santa Barbara frequently. The shop was fine, selling their Tracy Porter clothes and wares and it was run by her sister and her husband who had also moved to CA from Wisconsin. They continued their online presence and retailing when a mere 10 months after opening the shop they closed its doors and the Tracy Porter brand went “poof.” This apparently left a LOT of unhappy customers who claim they never received refunds for their purchases and if you want to read the online rants of their disgruntled customers, just Google it. In reality, businesses fail all the time and the end result is bad for everyone. I wondered whether they had made a mistake leaving Wisconsin and moving to a city that boasts the most expensive real estate in America. Cha-ching to live there for sure.
Tracy took a brief hiatus from social media but then seemed to come back to life launching her newest business iteration which she dubbed POETIC WANDERLUST. This new Tracy Porter brand was really just a continuation of what she did before and she highlighted her products and her artful way of living. Here are some of the images she posted under this moniker:
Her stuff is colorful and densely decorated and once again she built a throng of admirers. All seemed to be going well when suddenly she announced that she and her family had sold all of their belongings, given away their animals to friends and moved to Big Sky Ranch in Nicaragua. She has posted dozens of videos and photos featuring their new life which seems to involve riding horses, drinking, swimming, drinking and drinking. It appeared like one long extended vacation in the jungle and she declared they moved there with a backpack full of clothes and a “tech-pack” with their electronic devices. It is difficult to do justice to her posts so here is a link to her Instagram page:
You really have to watch her videos to get the gist of her banter. In one of the video clips she describes the process of designing their new home in Nicaragua as follows: “It is so fun! It’s like an Easter Basket and a Pastry shop and Christmas and like all delicious things all rolled into one. Mmmmm, it’s like so fun and so yummy.” All with hands waving punctuated with her machine-gun laughs. The woman is enthusiastic for sure.
All I kept thinking as I saw her post was how in the hell will her boys (all in their teens) would like living in such a remote location and how would they adjust to leaving all of their friends behind in America. She continued to promote living an adventurous life and posting stories of how everything was rainbows and unicorns and acknowledged that although moving to a foreign country wasn’t for everyone, if you have an adventurous spirit and a little bit of wanderlust then it might be perfect for you. All seemed to be going swimmingly so when she announced yesterday that they had left Nicaragua behind and moved back to California after 6 months, it gave her followers whiplash. For months she had gleefully posted about their fabulous/”delicious” life in the jungle and given no indication that anything was a challenge but suddenly her Nicaraguan adventure is kaput. Here is her post:
This post obviously got a reaction from her followers who were surprised by her move after listening to her extoll the virtues of living abroad and loving it. What had happened? Why did they move back? People were posting comments when one woman posted the following comment:
sallysmith2: I’m just wondering why you make everything sound so wonderful and everyone is soooo happy and you are building a home and all this wonderful ness and just like that you are back.. doesn’t sound like you are as “real” as you say you are. Nothing wrong with moving back but admit what it was instead of saying nothing!!! I guess you want to be real but only with everything being just wonderful!!!! Seems insincere to me!!!!
Tracy’s response to the ONE comment that was snarky? Was it filled with deliciousness and love? Hell no! Here is Tracy’s response:
tracyporter_poeticwanderlust@sallysmith2 darling the “real me” is telling you to go fuck yourself. I’m a mother of 4 children and I decide what to post about my family. That’s what’s wonderful. Cheers .
Huh???!!!! Apparently Ms. Porter has a thin skin and a potty mouth. Her throng of followers rushed to her defense saying how fabulous she is and how terrible @sallysmith2 was etc. etc.
I decided to post a comment as well and I have no idea whether Tracy Porter will read it or care but when a person promotes their lifestyle and their brand and builds their clientele by positioning themselves front and center and makes money off their followers buying their merchandise then you have opened yourself up to people having an opinion. It can be unpleasant and ugly at times but to be incensed that someone asks you to explain what happened seems disingenuous and naive. In the world of social media there is always an element of schadenfreude.
In this new world of social media, people only seem to post things that are carefully edited and seldom post the pic where they look like a hippo. I get that, but I think people crave authenticity and honesty. They want people to KEEP IT REAL. Particularly when you are promoting a lifestyle brand and asking people to invest in it. I am sure Tracy Porter will continue to thrive and prosper and good for her but if there is one piece of advice I would offer it would be to keep it real and honest and understand that there will always be people who won’t agree with you.
Here was my comment posted to Tracy Porter’s Instagram account:
tonkadutch: I am reading these comments and I am perplexed by all of this. You have built a public persona/brand and a business based on your “poetic wanderlust” life. You post videos providing advice as to how to live a more adventurous life and extolling the virtues of following your heart. People become vested in your brand and in following your adventures so that when a major change happens (leaving your life in Nicaragua and moving back to CA), it is only natural for people to have questions. Maybe they were blunt in the way they asked for an explanation, but telling someone to go “fuck themselves” is uncalled for and not consistent with your brand. I am neither a hater nor a troll but someone who has followed you and wished you the best. We need a return to civility and kindness and I hope you can understand why people are curious.
Here is her response posted this morning:
- tracyporter_poeticwanderlust@tonkadutch what she whipped at me was far from curiosity. I’d rather people unfollow me than call mean cheap swipes curiosity. Not that I need to parade every inch of my life out there for anyone, just because I share a window of my life. My free use of language, truth be told is most definitely like it or not- is who am. And I’m good with me, even if some people are not. Thanks though for your comment! Cheers x
Yikes. Thank goodness she is happy with herself. Something that is supremely self-evident.