How one couple fled the Big Apple, eloped, and started living their countryside dreams.
Written by Jennifer Gray | Photographed by Kyla Jeanette Photography
“During Fashion Week, you expect to fall in love with the clothes and newness that designers and their teams have worked on for months, but during Paris Fashion Week, the unexpected happened, we fell in love,” Jackie Skye Muller says.
Jackie Muller is Middleburg’s newest resident, wife to Marlon Muller, and co-founder of the equestrian lifestyle brand Recreational Habits. The couple navigated three years of long distance dating while Marlon split his time between Hong Kong, New York City, and Washington D.C. while working on investments. As Jackie worked as the women’s director at Kith and as associate fashion director of Barneys in New York, the couple reached a crossroads during a year that shook the foundation of everything we once knew.
There’s no denying the pandemic has had a remarkable way of bringing some closer together despite the fact we are physically separated from so many loved ones. It made Jackie and Marlon reprioritize everything. “We always wanted our family to have a robust life, and it became evident that we needed to get out of New York in order for us to make that a reality,” Jackie says.
In fall 2020, the couple eloped in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with a courthouse wedding and guest list which included only their dog, Dallas. “It was perfectly intimate and sweet,” Jackie says.
In October, the newlyweds moved to Middleburg, after fleeing New York City like many others during this life altering year. “I had discovered Middleburg several years ago when I was invited to the opening of The Salamander Resort,” Marlon says. “I quickly fell in love with the charm of this transient community. I felt Middleburg was a low-key gem, and after having been in quarantine in New York this past year, Jackie and I began entertaining the idea of moving to Middleburg. So we would take weekend trips down from the city and walk around and look at farms. It didn’t take us long to decide we wanted to build a life here.”
Their new life in Middleburg included the launch of their lifestyle brand Recreational Habits (RH). “We created Recreational Habits to bring the exclusive world of the preppy elite and their hobbies to the historically excluded,” Jackie says. “We believe that all people, regardless of color, should be able to experience the joys of recreational sport and living, from equitation to golf, to hosting and galas.”
Currently, the duo is focused on bringing regular content to their RH following, which highlights the diversity found in these elite sports. This spring, they will release their first women’s wear apparel collection along with several items for the home. The spring collection is inspired by places like New England’s Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket’s lifestyle of sailing, clam bakes, and sun bleached dresses.
While building their lives here in Middleburg, the Mullers have not wasted any time, already developing their passion for riding by taking regular lessons. “I love working with horses — from tacking to mucking to jumping them (only over cross rails at this point!); it’s incredibly fulfilling,” Jackie says. “Our daughter has also ridden for a few years, so I get to learn a lot from her riding as well.”
Marlon and his son are taking polo lessons too. “I didn’t really expect to enjoy it as much as I have,” he says. “Because I am naturally competitive, I find this sport to be one of the most challenging, and at the same time, fulfilling sports I have ever participated in. Fifty different things are going on at the same time while you have to control a large animal. You have no time to think about anything else, so naturally, I’m addicted!”
In the future, the Mullers plan to create a program through Recreational Habits allowing inner city D.C. students to participate in camps that will expose them to various activities like riding, sailing, and golfing. The Mullers will continue developing their horseback riding skills, and have mentioned the possibility of planning a wedding for friends and family to attend when the world is a safer place to be together again. ML
Look for more on Marlon and Jackie in the next February episode of “The Middleburg Life” docuseries. Visit our YouTube or IGTV channel www.middleburglife.com/igtv for special behind the scenes video footage of this cover shoot and additional interviews.
Art Direction: Jennifer Gray
Photography: Kyla Jeanette
Hair: Michelle Lay (Ash Salon)
Makeup: Artistry by Lexy Higgs
Floral Design: Sarena Floral Designs
Vintage Automobile: 1963 Lincoln Continental by Callaway Classics in Marshall
Gowns: Designer: Dany Tabet sold at Middleburg Bride
Designer: Barbara Kavchok sold at Soliloquy Bridal Couture
Jewelry: Mystique Jewelers
Venue: Private Middleburg home