After achieving prominence on the New York stage, Sleeper left abruptly in 1949. She sailed from New York on a 40-foot schooner. Her destination was the Virgin Islands and a vacation with her husband. However, when she reached Puerto Rico she fell in love with the island and opened a hand-made clothing shop there in 1950. Sleeper sewed native dresses in San Juan and resolved never to return to the US mainland. Before World War II, Sleeper designed jewelry, selling many of her ‘”Martha Sleeper Creations” to stores in neighboring islands and on the United States mainland.