We had what many people would consider successful lives. My husband Eric and I enjoyed long, successful careers in the fashion industry working in New York City. He was involved in merchandising, design and sales and ran his own company, and I was primarily in sales management. We enjoyed our life; on weekdays we navigated the fast-paced world of Manhattan, while weekends were spent relaxing at our home in the Hamptons.
Then came the recession in 2008. Like most industries, the economic downturn caused uncertainty in the fashion world and we were faced with the prospect of losing our jobs. We kept thinking, “If we get let go, who is going to hire someone at our age?” I was 48-years old at the time, while Eric was 67. The recession forced us to think about a later-in-life career overhaul where we could take our futures in our own hands. It wasn’t an easy decision after enjoying years as executives, but the thought of waiting for something to happen felt worse.
Reinventing Yourself Post-Retirement
A serendipitous moment occurred in 2009 that set the course of our lives in a completely different direction. We attended the opening night of the film Julie and Julia, the story of a woman who chronicled her attempt to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year on her blog. Seated two rows in front of us was none other than Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa.”
Being a fan of both women, a thought occurred to me: Aside from their love of cooking, what else do they have in common? Then the answer struck; they completely reinvented themselves. Child worked in intelligence during World War II, while Garten was positioned in the White House as a nuclear policy analyst. If they could do it, why couldn’t we?
Envisioning the Business
Although the idea of running a B&B had been floated around by friends, we never dreamed of becoming innkeepers. But it would give us the opportunity to pursue our passions of food and wine. We had initially decided on a B&B in Cape Cod, but the deal fell through last minute. That’s when a B&B consultant we were working with alerted us to The Inn at English Meadows, a former farm house built circa 1860, located in Kennebunk, ME. We had never been to Maine before, but once we visited we knew it was right. In 2010, we purchased the inn.
It was in bad shape when we took ownership, including décor that was worn out and dated. My husband and I took our time transforming it into a chic, modern getaway dressed in plush furnishings and offering luxurious, top-shelf amenities including Frette fine linens, Vera Wang hyper-allergenic mattresses, Malin & Goetz toiletries and complimentary Wi-Fi along with delicious, epicurean breakfasts. Guests can walk to the shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants in Kennebunk’s Lower Village, Dock Square in nearby Kennebunkport, or take a sunset stroll along the picturesque beaches.
While becoming innkeepers was truly unexpected, bringing our vision of The Inn at English Meadows to fruition brought us such joy and satisfaction. Our transformation was finally complete.
By Liz Brodar
Liz Brodar owns and operates The Inn at English Meadows located in Kennebunk, ME, with her husband, Eric. Formerly an executive in the fashion industry, Liz now gets to share her passion for hospitality and cooking with her guests. Their Goldendoodle, Bailey, can vouch for it.