Mick Moore’s journey was detoured by COVID-19, but the new road he’s on is providing plenty of memorable experiences and life lessons.

Moore, who graduated from Smith-Cotton High School in 2014, was working in New York City when the virus put the city in quarantine in March. In June, his job was eliminated. Rather than bemoan what he lost, he saw the moment as an opportunity.

“I’m just trying to figure out my life right now because the whole world changed,” he said in a phone interview from his current home in Hawaii. “Everyone’s life has been affected in some way. That made this the year for people to look at their lives and figure out what they were missing and what they wanted to change.”

What he figured out was that he had a long-standing desire to spend time in Hawaii. The route to the islands offered plenty of twists and turns.

After graduating from S-C, Moore went to New York City where he enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology. Afterward, he took a job in the city as a product developer, working on kitchen wares for two years. In his role, Moore would be the liaison between different departments, making sure everything was on schedule; he handled product testing, developed color pallets, and made sure items would be on trend with the season. He also worked on pricing, packaging, and sourcing products from manufacturers in Asia.

“It was a lot of things going on at once to get a product line going. It is one of those things where you have no idea someone is actually doing that,” he said.

Buyers from retail outlets dictate what is going to be sold. Once they let Moore know what they were looking for, he had to develop it and find a manufacturing outlet to fabricate it. 

“It takes anywhere from six months to two years to develop a product from concept to getting in on store shelves,” he said. That much lead time created challenges as he had to anticipate what the public would want and what would fit with ever-changing trends.

When his job was eliminated in June, Moore decided to remain in New York until his lease ran out in August.

“I was trying to find out the next journey in my life,” he said.

Moore grew up helping at his family’s business, Moore’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop, so he had knowledge of and interest in flowers. He connected with a friend who had spent two months over the summer working on a farm in California as part of Workaway, a program that allows participants to experience different cultures as they work for their room and board. 

“When I heard about it and didn’t really know what my next move was, I started looking at the website,” Moore said. “With COVID, I couldn’t really go across the world, but I thought of someplace I have always wanted to go to and experience, to be in nature. Then I found this farm in Hawaii called Hana Tropicals.”

A typical day for Moore now starts at 7 a.m. He works Saturday through Wednesday, five hours a day, harvesting flowers in the fields, washing and sorting them. Within 24 hours, the fresh flowers are shipped to customers on the U.S. mainland. Moore said if you place an order through hanatropicals.com, you will receive flowers that were picked no more than three days earlier.

The town he is living in, Hana, is on the east coast of Maui and has only about 1,500 residents, most of whom are native Hawaiian.

“Being an outsider, you must be very respectful and mindful of what is going on and make sure you are not infringing on their culture,” Moore said. 

He is learning a lot about people and different cultures, and he enjoys being in tune with nature. Moore encourages people to get out of their communities and experience life under different circumstances.

“It is so important to see how other people live and think. … Seeing how other people live and grow up in different communities is eye-opening,” he said. “I feel through travel and experiencing culture not as a tourist but as someone living there you are able to really view it and decide what you want to change in your life and what you have been missing.”