Her Own Dream Catcher
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
Photography by Christian Lee
Most would agree Regina Maguire Kirshbaum is a New Yorker. She is a native of Ridgewood, Queens. And, she did have a long and storied career, in which she worked her way to the top of the fast-moving, high fashion industry in the City--her dream. She met her husband there, too. So in the strictest of terms, Regina is definitely a New Yorker. However, somewhere along this hard-core, driven, fashionista’s path, she became an island girl. It turns out, Regina has a spirit for the exotic and a soul for the Lowcountry. Fact is, a flock of white birds gracefully flying over the morning marsh fills her soul more than garment racks whizzing down long corridors.
What makes Regina, well, Regina, is she knows how to have it all. She has cozied up in her new Lowcountry home, where she admits she is living her dream, and brought all her savvy fashion know-how with her. Perhaps you have seen the word Agabhumi, floating around the Lowcountry over the last year. If not, you will. But, surely you have noticed the fashion-forward, spiky blue hair, heavy-rimmed glasses, funky, chic dressed woman having a cup of coffee or glass of wine around town. That is Regina.
Agabhumi (Ah-gå-BOO´-me), meaning ancient earth, is Regina and her husband Michael’s collection of island inspired jewelry, apparel and accessories impeccably constructed and affordably priced. Regina is the designer behind it all and it all is made in Bali, known to many, especially Regina, as “heaven on earth.” Their company brings hip, designer Balinese pieces to the rest of the world, while the ideas for most of these pieces are created right here in the Lowcountry.
“Bali has opened up my eyes and my heart, taught me to embrace slowing down. It is a culture that celebrates all the time. Working with the people of Bali allows us a business climate where nobody gets hurt, everyone has fun, everybody wins,” she said.
Regina’s stories of her and Michael’s travels to Bali are fascinating, handpicking textiles, beads, stones and metals, and working with local sewing rooms. It is exhilarating to see the sketches and finished products side-by-side. What is more enlightening is the heart behind it all. Regina and Michael have a spirit of connection and zen, which is present in their products, their home, their philosophies and their dog, Nyo, or I should say fur child.
Nyo is a black and white King Charles Cavalier spaniel, with an impressive collection of frisbees. Regina formally introduced me and my daughter to Nyo when we arrived, “Nyo, this is Elizabeth and this is Jacie. Give your frisbee to Jacie.” Nyo, understanding everything she said, offered the frisbee to Jacie. “I set no limits, he understands what I am saying because we get each other, we connect,” Regina said. She then asked Nyo to be a ninja. He crouched, moving one paw at a time very, very slowly just like a stealth ninja.
As we toured their beautiful, bright, colorful home, filled with eclectic art and worldly treasures, we made our way down to Agabhumi world headquarters and showroom. Merchandised to perfection, the showroom is a fashionista’s candy store, and there are stories behind many of the products and lines. Three of the lines give back to causes near and dear to the Kirshbaum’s hearts. "What you give to the world, you get back," Regina said.
While all of this seems like a dream, none of it came easy. Michael and Regina have been through many struggles to get where they are today. In fact, Michael had Model Endstage Liver Disease with two thwarted attempts at liver transplants. Living on the edge of life and death was touch and go for a long time. Finally, a viable liver came available, and Michael was able to have a successful transplant. Then he was hit with tonsil cancer and won. Then lung cancer just a year ago, and so far he is winning that battle, too.
Regina said, “As weak as I have felt though these challenges, there is rebirth and it is inspiring. White birds are a symbol for Michael and Regina that everything is going to be alright. It was a found white feather that gave her heart wings on a day she wasn’t so sure. “Be open to the messages. Open that third eye. That’s when things come to you. When you’re third eye blind, you miss out on the best things in life.
Regina’s First Job: The Godiva counter at Bloomingdales at age 17. “I’ve never eaten a piece of Godiva since; I ate so much!”
Hidden Talent: She loves to garden. “It’s my happy place.”
Favorite Flower: Casablanca Lilies and Passion Flowers—they create flower riots!
A Goaldigger’s Advice: “Never be afraid to be true to your passion and don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from achieving your goals.”
Not in my Hair! Blue, purple, black, gray, turquoise--all good. People get the biggest kick out of my hair. Blonde or Chartreuse Green! Never!
Her Vice: She is addicted to novels by Southern female authors, such as Dorthea Benton Franks, and detective stories. “Janet Evanovich--hilarious.”
Funky Foundation? “All the credit goes to my mother, who is a hard-core New Yorker. She made me a nonconformist. She literally cried the day I came home from the mall with a rugby shirt.”
The Coolest: They have a full-size, vintage Skee Ball machine in their den.
Signature Pieces: The Shoulder Stopper and the new feminine-side cargo pant. Both shown in the main photo.
Shop Agabhumi: www.agabhumi.com or locally at So Sandra, Park Plaza, HHI