Each month we feature one extraordinary woman, living here in paradise, making her own mark in the world around us and this month I am honored to bring you Sharon Drager, September’s Island Jane. From her fiery red hair and beautiful green eyes to her adventurous spirit and obvious zest for life, Sharon is an all-american girl that feels like a breath of fresh air. I first met her at a meeting to coordinate my trip to dive the Atocha and I knew right away we’d be fast friends. She does the marketing and media relations for Mel Fisher’s Treasures here in Key West. When she talks about treasure hunting, the history of those treasures and her love of the ocean, you can’t help but get caught up in the excitement.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Sharon has been spending time in the Florida Keys since she was a child. She had family here so summer vacations in the Keys were easy. They went out on the boat, jet skied and swam in the canal. In the wintertime, when it was cold and dreary up north she dreamed of the next time she would return.
She grew up and got her degree in marketing and business administration from the University of Delaware. Thinking it was best to stay near the family she interviewed for jobs near home but everything she found seemed boring. She longed for a life of adventure in the tropics. Lucky for her, she had connections with the Fisher family – a treasure salvaging company based in Key West and she was offered a job doing the marketing and PR for Mel Fisher’s Treasures. Excited that she had actually landed a job in the field she had her degree, she eagerly made the move.
Who do you live with?
“I met my husband down here about a year and a half after moving down. He is from Detroit, MI. He was coming down to work for the summers and that’s when we met. We have a condo in the salt ponds.
“We have one cat – Squeaky Pete. He is white and dark gray and named for his unusual squeaky meow. We rescued him from a pet store.”
My favorite thing(s) to do with my free time:
“I like to bike and enjoy the beach side of town. It’s easy to ride bikes and you can see the ocean every day unlike when you live downtown.
“I love boating with friends. I get to spend a lot of time on the water either on work boats or with friends and I am thankful for that.
“I’m also on a softball team, we have practice on Tuesdays. I play first base and I’ve gotten fairly good at it! I also like paddle boarding, diving, and I try to go to the gym.”
A typical day:
“When I’m in the office at Mel Fisher’s Treasures I work on the website content, Facebook page or on videos and try to figure out something fun. We create investor emails to keep them up to date on what the boats are doing so they feel in the loop even if they are far away. We have radio communication with the crew on the wreck and one fun thing we do is check in with them at least once a day to see what they’ve found.
“I do media relations so whenever the media, film crews, etc. come to the site, I will accompany them out there. We also plan events like Mel Fisher Days, Annual Investor Division week and throw parties for the investors.
“I also work at Key West Gallery. I love learning about the history of a piece and the stories of the artists. I am lucky that I have two jobs that I enjoy very much.”
Any tips for treasure hunters diving the Atocha?
“The most important tip I’ve learned is that nature doesn’t work in perfect circles or straight lines – so if you see either, you’d better take a closer look. It’s all about hard work, perseverance and not giving up. The Fisher’s have that instilled in them from Capt. Mel and so does the crew.”
Have you found any treasure?
“I found an emerald at Emerald City, an iron spike from the ship and some pottery and ballast stones. I would love to find a gold bar or a coin.”
What are your goals?
“I would like to continue to grow and develop and figure out a way to continue doing what I enjoy which is a lot of what I’m doing now, but also to grow personally. I’ve bounced around the idea of continuing my education. I’m interested in learning more about photography, websites and developing other aspects of what I already do. Even sales, which I enjoy very much. Figuring out what people love and how to make them happy is what I like about the gallery. You can’t talk someone into something they don’t love so you just wait for them to fall in love with it and then you simply figure out how to make it work.
“We’ve got 50 artists at the gallery, all internationally published. I am very fortunate to get to go on trips to visit their studios. I’d like to continue to travel and learn some things education-wise and not be stagnant. Continuing to learn, grow and never remain at the same level – continuing to be curious and not just plugging along through life.”
What advice do you have for other Island Jane’s looking to create a life they love:
“Don’t take for granted what we have in Key West. It’s easy to get in a rut. Take time to look at the old architecture, really see the ocean. It’s something we are really privileged to be able to enjoy. It is a special place. Go outside, explore, take it in and really appreciate what’s around you whether you’re underwater or just around town. Some people think that Key West is just a bunch of bars and t-shirt shops, but it is really so much more than that. That is part of it and if that’s what you focus on, that is all you will see. Have fun and remember to get out on the water. That’s why we all live here. Get into groups of friends that are interested in the same things you are. Just get out of the house and find an adventure!”