Homegrown and Local
By Diane McMahon
Photography by Anne, Inc. – Sloan Bragg
For most people in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area the Lowcountry is a place to be discovered and returned to…sometimes permanently. It is not generally a place of origins or deep roots. To meet a “native” is rare; like unearthing an exotic being whose life has been the inhalation and exhalation of the sounds, smells and rhythms of this layered land of sea, river, marsh and tide. Robin All grew up on the May River in Bluffton, SC. She left after high school searching for things the Lowcountry isn’t. But she came home. This is where she will raise her family.
Robin All Blair, a statuesque young woman (5’10” without shoes) moves towards me with the streamlined grace of a gazelle. She shines with sophistication lit by wholesomeness. She describes growing up by the river on land where her family grew fresh produce and she and her older brother, Jason, took off in their jon boat to fish, shrimp and crab, or just for adventure. She went hunting with her father and brother and learned to skin and clean animals while thanking them for providing food. “Living off the land” was as unself-conscious as rolling in the plough mud or tubing. Robin smiles, “In the summers I delivered fresh vegetables to Scott’s Market in Bluffton. “I could make about $100 for the summer and I felt like the richest girl in the world.”
It is hard to reconcile the beautiful woman talking to me today with the young self she describes.
“I was just a raw rough natural Bluffton girl. I was awkward. I had buckteeth, bright freckles and was nearly this tall in middle school. I was also painfully shy and so I hunched over. I had really poor posture.”
With no public school options in Bluffton, she was sent to Hilton Head Christian Academy. At the time, Bluffton was “country.” Hilton Head was just over the bridge, but it was a world away. When I ask her why she doesn’t have an accent (meaning Southern) she says, “Oh, kids will beat a country accent out of you pretty fast.”
Clearly, there’s been a nearly mythical metamorphosis. She credits the Millie Lewis Modeling and Development Center in Savannah. At 16 she took a class at the agency. She started modeling and over time became deeply connected to the family owners and the business. “They enabled me to find my self-esteem and confidence.” After graduating from The College of Charleston, she went to work with them full time. Beyond modeling, she participated in every aspect of the business, becoming a top trainer, organizing major scouting conventions for international talent agents in Florida and emceeing special events throughout the Southeast.
She had found her career. Several years later, life presented a difficult choice. Because of family circumstances, Robin decided to return to Bluffton. She has taken her highly developed people skills and organizational expertise and is utilizing them in her parents’ residential/commercial custom security company.
Robin owns a house in Bluffton. Six months ago she married Aaron, who she dated for five years. She says, “Aaron completes the parts I lack. My husband taught me something that changed my life. He said, ‘You can get rid of 95% of the drama in your life if you just trust that the other person’s intentions are good.’” Aaron has a job in Charleston where he also owns a home. She tells me they have ironed out the details of how life, career and children will work and they are both happy with the plan. He is in Charleston part of the week, but he can work from their home in Bluffton. This will be their children’s home base, with regular excursions to Charleston. “Town and Country.”
I ask her to tell me something she loved about growing up in the “country.” “I loved getting up really early—while it was still dark—and going to the deer stand. I would stand in the silence and then listen and watch as the forest came alive with sound and light from night to morning. It’s just beautiful.”
So is Robin.
Late Bloomer: Robin had her first kiss at 18. Then she became a self- described “serial monogamist.” Aaron broke the pattern.
Double Date: Robin’s friend met a guy on Match.com. She asked Robin to come on the first date as safety backup. The guy also asked a friend. The friend was Aaron. The other couple fizzled. Robin and Aaron sparked.