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@Work: Tutu Much

Feb. 3, 2005 – Kiko Posada has the artistic flair and Tutu Singer, the business savvy. Both share the travel bug. This led the couple, both 50, to open Tutu Much, a jewelry and gift shop at the Bordeaux Overlook.
The couple spends three months of the year in Bali, Indonesia, working with craftspeople who create silver jewelry to their designs and enjoying a much-needed break away from St. John. They also sell other Balinese jewelry as well as hats and bags from Posada's native Colombia.
"People are surprised to find this sophisticated stuff in the middle of nowhere," Singer said.
Much of the jewelry features larimar, a blue stone mined in the Dominican Republic that mirrors the color of the Caribbean sky and sea. Numerous pieces sport the petroglyph symbol, used in the Caneel Bay Resort logo and throughout St. John. Tutu Much even carries black beaded purses with the petroglyph symbol on the front.
Tutu Much has branched out into shell and freshwater pearl jewelry – some of it their own design and some created by Balinese craftspeople.
Posada met Singer on St. John nearly a dozen years ago soon after he arrived. Singer's been on St. John for about 24 years. Both teachers by trade, Singer was honing her gift shop skills at a Cruz Bay shop when the two hatched a plan that would allow them to earn a living and travel.
Initially, they brought back small amounts of jewelry to sell here and there, but business began to blossom. Soon, they opened the shop at the Bordeaux Overlook. The overhead at the tiny spot is much less than if they had a store in Cruz Bay. And the view can't be beat.
Tutu Much gets lots of traffic, including busloads of tourists who stop by on island tours, other tourists who come for the view and stay to shop, folks heading for lunch or dinner at the adjacent Chateau Bordeaux, and of course, locals who like their products and their prices.
Except for help on Fridays, the two work the shop by themselves. They close for three months during hurricane season and head for Bali.
Both Posada and Singer said they love Bali and its people. However, they worry about the post-tsunami effects on the country's tourism. Although Bali was far away from the area hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami, Singer said that tourists assume all of Asia suffered.
The couple has made many friends in Bali. And they've come to love the culture and the lifestyle.
"The spirituality is what really gets to me. It's part of their life," Singer said.
She said that if shop owners have a bad business day, instead of blaming themselves, they assume it was the Hindu gods who caused problems. They then adjust their prayers to different gods in hopes of increasing business.
"It takes the pressure off," she said.
Singer said that children apprentice at a young age to learn crafts such as silversmithing. This gives them a way to earn a living.
Although the couple likes their St. John lifestyle, they fear that they won't be able to live in pricey St. John when they retire. They're thinking of somewhere like Bali, where the cost of living is low.
"We'll need a place where our money goes further," Posada said.

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