Style

Island Fashion: Simply Sisters

 Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack
Photo by Michael Vossen

SIMPLY SISTERS

7 years after Lola Miller began designing island-inspired dresses in Hilo for her local hula group at church, the humble line known as Simply Sisters has transformed into a prominent fixture in the Hawai’i fashion scene. Drawing inspiration from friends and family as well as the endless inspiration of her tropical surroundings, designer Lola Miller shares her insights on how Simply Sisters has grown from an annual fashion booth at Merrie Monarch to a beloved fashion brand with a must-stop brick and mortar in Hilo town.

First of all, mahalo nui for sharing your story with us, we are so excited to feature you on Pikake Pursuit! We are so thrilled to feature you as Simply Sisters was one of our favorite finds of Merrie Monarch 2014-we will never forget the first time we met you there! We immediately connected with you and couldnʻt wait to support your new business, so it is heartwarming for us to see how much you have grown! For those who may be new to Simply Sisters, how would you describe the design aesthetic of Simply Sisters from the prints to the clothing styles?

We have a modern take on aloha wear.  We would like to think we are trendy, fashionable aloha wear and contemporary in style and influence. 

 Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack
Photo by Michael Vossen

How has Simply Sisters evolved over the years?

We have evolved by providing more styles and sizes to accommodate all ages from keiki to adults, both men and women—we have sizes up to 3X today! We travel to do pop-up events in Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui quite often and our collections can also be found at Parker Ranch Waimea and Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo. One of the most exciting updates is the recent opening of our boutique in Hilo, Hawai'i, Simply Sisters Boutique (961 Kilauea Ave.), which includes fun and affordable accessories as well as our clothing collection. 

What were some of the greatest challenges you overcame in your first years of business?

Our biggest challenge has been trying to maintain the balance between work and play.  Building a business is very challenging.  We are constantly trying to find a way to separate our business from our personal time. Another biggest challenge is finding manufacturers to work with. There are many companies that offer great assistance, but if you find the right one that you have great rapport with, that helps tremendously. 

What have been some of your most thrilling milestones you have achieved?

One of our most thrilling milestones has been finally opening our boutique in Hilo. We have been doing craft fairs and pop-up events since 2011, so it was such an amazing experience to open our shop during the Merrie Monarch Festival this year.  There is nothing like having the freedom to design your own shop, to meet new customers each week that come from all over the country and to just have the satisfaction of using the shop to promote other brands. Our mission is to also use the business to help our community raise funds for charitable functions whenever possible. 

 Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack
Photo by Michael Vossen

As a designer and business owner you are incredibly supportive of others in the industry. How would you describe the values of the local fashion community in Hawaiʻi?

The local fashion community is extremely supportive of each other, as we all know firsthand how difficult it is to be in the fashion business. We are all different in regards to our aesthetics and collections, however, we are all ‘ohana in this business of fashion and that is just part of showing the aloha spirit.  We have a lot of respect for other designers, brands and are always there to support if needed.  Simply Sisters welcomes anyone interested in having a pop-up shop at our boutique, we love to show our support to other local businesses! 

What inspires you to create your designs?

My inspiration comes from the beauty of the Big Island—I am inspired by the beautiful tropicals all around me. I try to stay creative by always looking for new and refreshing things to bring to customers whether it is a haku bar at the boutique or new bags I discovered at a trade show.  We stay inspired by getting customers excited with new and fun ideas.

 Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack
Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters has become a fixture in the Merrie Monarch craft fairs in Hilo. What do you look forward to most about that festive time of year in Hilo?

Merrie Monarch is the biggest hula festival in the world, and it’s grown so much since we started doing craft fairs in 2011. Today we get excited about the new designers coming in to showcase their collections. We love the fashion shows, concerts and live music, not to mention the beautiful hula that is showcased at the stadium. There is such a wonderful, beautiful energy in Hilo during that week and we are so blessed to be a part of it.  

Congratulations on the recent opening of your brick and mortar store in Hilo! What has it been like owning a store and having a home to share your designs?

 Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack
Photo by Michael Vossen

It has been so much work but so amazing! We love our little vintage looking shop and are still pinching ourselves that we actually have a shop. I enjoy bringing fresh flowers on Saturdays and bringing in new apparel and accessories from local vendors as often as I can. The shop is also used for charitable projects within our community.  It is a place to give local vendors a place to host pop-up shops and to support other businesses.   

How do you envision Simply Sisters evolving and what are some of your goals for 2019? 

Simply Sisters is constantly evolving because we are always learning. For 2019, we are excited to showcase new designs and styles as well as bring fun new accessories to the shop. I’m interested in opening a bigger shop in the future! I would love to have a bigger shop where we can enjoy fellowship in workshops and community projects. I am always looking for ways this business can bless others. We are a family of aloha! 


What are 3 things you have learned as a business owner?

I have learned that having a positive social media platform is the most powerful way of connecting with people. I have learned that you have to really love what you do to make anything work. As long as you’ve got passion, faith and are willing to work hard, you can do anything you want in this life. I have also learned that the secret to growth is helping others grow.  It is not what you have accomplished but what you can do to bless others. 


What are your top 3 Pikake Picks, ie local businesses, restaurants or activities you highly recommend in Hilo?

 Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack Photo by Michael Vossen

Simply Sisters Fall 2018 Collection at The Surfjack
Photo by Michael Vossen

Oh dang…only 3?!  Everything in Hilo is amazing! My top 3 favorite local businesses would be Hana Hou Hilo, Kapohokine Adventures Shop and Aloha Grown Shop. I love them because they support local vendors in Hilo. For my favorite Hilo restaurants I love Hula Hula’s at the Grand Naniloa Hotel. You can’t beat the atmosphere right there on the bay and the food is excellent.  

My second would be Ruebens Mexican Restaurant for our favorite comfort food and margaritas.  Number 3 would be Chapter 27, which has theeeeee best appetizers, and 4 for the best breakfast place is Paul’s Café… can’t beat the breakfast waffles and jazz music!  Lets go when you come! For activities, I enjoy riding bikes and kayaking on Banyan Drive provided by Kapohokine Adventures. I also enjoy making lei with Hakus by Bunny who does workshops in Hilo or workshops like macramé making, sip and paints etc at Circle of Life Studio.



What is you favorite post-hula meal and where can we find it? 

Post hula meal is Reubens Mexican or Noris. You will always see the ladies there. Haha! 


What is your go-to shave ice order?

In Hilo, it’s “ice shave” at Wilson’s By The Bay. It’s the cutest vintage ice shave shop that has been in Hilo forever!

Lastly, where can we follow Simply Sisters and purchase some of your beautiful designs?

You can find us at Simply Sisters Boutique (Saturdays 10-2 or by appt.), Parker Ranch Store, Kapohokine Adventures and the Grand Naniloa Hotel. 

Shops We Love: Driftwood Boutique

 The breathtaking scope of Driftwood Maui boutique in Upcountry’s Makawao town

The breathtaking scope of Driftwood Maui boutique in Upcountry’s Makawao town

DRIFTWOOD

Proud upcountry girl and Pikake Pursuit co-founder Jade has known Driftwood owner Carrie Gebb for over a decade on Maui. She watched in awe as Gebb evolved from an aesthetician to the owner of Paragon Salon and now doubling her boss babe status as the founder of Driftwood, Makawao’s most chic and elegant boutique! We got a chance to chat with Gebb about her journey as an entrepreneur and how she manages her own personal growth and self-care with a family and two thriving businesses.

Mahalo nui for sharing your story with us, we are so excited to feature you on Pikake Pursuit! Let’s set some groundwork for our followers and give them a bit of insight into your story. Tell us about your background growing here on Maui.

Mahalo to you both for including me! I moved to maui in 1995 to chase the sun and surf. Mother Maui has been incredibly accepting and generous to me from day one. I met my husband surfing at Ho’okipa beach, had 2 amazing children at home in Huelo and have the good fortune to own 2 business in Makawao. I feel very grateful and blessed.

You have been a longtime fixture in the Makawao Town community as the owner of Paragon Salon and now the owner of Driftwood Boutique next door as well. What is it that drew you to Makawao and has kept you there expanding your businesses?

I grew up in the San Juan mountains of Colorado and although I love the seaside I feel most happy upcountry where the weather is cooler and the views are spectacular.

I had been a patron of Paragon Salon before I became the owner so that was a natural transition. When I decided to open Driftwood I never even considered another location. Makawao is such a charming town! I love that it is quant and the businesses unique, being locally owned and operated by some very talented people. Makawao is not on a main thoroughfair which makes it a destination town, we do not get the throngs of tourist that other towns experience but rather a well traveled visitor. It’s refreshing.

 Carrie Gebb Owner of Driftwood Boutique & Paragon Salon

Carrie Gebb
Owner of Driftwood Boutique & Paragon Salon

You began your professional journey in Maui as an aesthetician at Paragon before becoming the owner and renovating the salon to the beautiful space it is today. Was owning a salon a dream of yours and how did you ready yourself for that step?

I knew I wanted to be my own boss after working in previous jobs for people who were not good at being the boss. I thought I would suffocate if I was not able to find my own path. Luckily I worked very hard and the opportunity arose.

The transition from working in Paragon Salon to owning it came naturally as the previous owners moved on to other things. I realized from my past experiences that I would make a great business owner because my level of dedication is huge and I champion for the people working with me.

How did the idea of Driftwood come about and how did you come up with its name?

My dear french Grandmother, Lorraine taught me how to sew at the age of 8. I worked with her every summer until I was 16 learning, designing and creating cloths so fashion has always been a big part of my life. I was in great need of a creative outlet and another source of income so the idea of a boutique was born.

The name Driftwood came as a convergence of 2 things I hold very dear, the forest an the ocean. I love the idea that a tree can end up in the ocean travel thousands of miles, be washed up on another shore changed by the experience and yet the paradox is the tree remains itself. I suppose it’s a nod to my personal experience of moving the Maui.

 Photo by Driftwood Boutique

Photo by Driftwood Boutique

What is the aesthetic and vision of Driftwood and how has it been received?

The aesthetic of Driftwood is rustic modern. I’m a huge fan of modern architecture and interior design but it can get very sterile. I wanted to have a space that felt fresh but stayed true to the Paniolo vibe of Makawao Town. We poured white epoxy floors and painted the interior white then added distressed wood to the interior columns. I specially stained wood for the dressing room wood that resembles weathered barn siding.

My husband, Ariel, made a beautiful shelf system with 12 foot lengths of poplar anchored with 80 year old Ohia posts that were salvaged from a house in Kaua. Our desk is topped with an ancient organically-shaped piece of Pheasant wood that my father-in-law gave us. Every aspect of the space was carefully thought of and constructed by us. The reception has been phenomenal. Every day customers tell us that Driftwood is the most beautiful store they have every seen.

You have always been known for your style savvy so we were thrilled to hear you were opening a boutique. Did your experience as the business owner of Paragon prepare you for your new venture at Driftwood?

Absolutely! I’m not sure that Driftwood would have been so successful with out that experience under my belt.

 Photo by Driftwood Boutique

Photo by Driftwood Boutique

Driftwood has been expanding its online store and launched a wonderful Insider’s Guide to the Maui community and local businesses, what has that process been like for you
expanding your website?

It’s a ton of work!! Going online is basically like opening another store. I love the blog work be- cause it provides yet another creative outlet. And it’s wonderful to share friends and fellow business owners stories and endeavors.

You are also the mother of 2 amazing kids. What impact does motherhood have on your business?

Time - I need more of it. Being a good mom for me means having the time to be with my kids and that shrinks the time for work and vise versa. It means I must surround myself with amaz- ing supportive people that help me take care of things on both fronts.

How do you balance being a working mom while also growing Paragon Salon and Driftwood?

It’s not always pretty. I can probably contribute most of my grey hair and under-eye bags to lack of sleep and stress. I often work late into the night or very early in the morning to keep all my s*** together.

 Carrie & daughter Eden Sparrow  Photo by Driftwood Boutique

Carrie & daughter Eden Sparrow
Photo by Driftwood Boutique

With your busy home and work life, what do you do to nurture yourself and relax?

I turned 40 last year and really noticed a big different in my body. I need more sleep than every to function on all 4 cylinders and have a greatly productive day. I’m also nursing some injuries that I have ignored for too long so I’m trying to make a commitment and have regular self care, like body work and massage. Thankfully I have practiced yoga for the past 19 years which has seen me though all physical and mental hardship. I recently started doing Barre which I love, love, love. It’s so hard but highly effective and the class is only an hour long so it fits into my crazy schedule. My son is old enough to surf by himself and my daughter is getting close so I’m putting surfing back into my life which feels so great.

 Photo by Driftwood Boutique

Photo by Driftwood Boutique

What have been some of your favorite products or brands that you love?

Oh my that’s tough. I love every product from Herbivore Botanicals, it’s like having a flower gar- den in a jar. It is such an honor and joy to work with all the local Hawaii vendors, like Acacia Swimwear, Jasmin Honey Jewelry, Hay Hay Couture, Ella May Maui, Olympia Activewear, Clhei the list just goes on, it seems like the islands are a serious melting pot of creativity.

Who is the Driftwood customer and what kinds of products do they shop for?

Our customer base is very broad with equal amounts of locals and visitors. There is literally something for every one between our clothing, jewelry and accessories, home goods and beauty products. We are a one stop shopping experience.


What are some of your must-have items for a weekend adventure on Maui?

Defiantly our Acacia Swimwear exclusives which include a swimsuit, dress and beach cover up. Also the new Reef Escape Lux slipper made exclusively for boutiques, Kipa Beach turkish towels which roll up super small to fit in your bag and are so soft. One Teaspoon denim shorts and designer Joah Brown makes the most butter-soft basics, perfect for our island climate.

 Photo by Driftwood Boutique

Photo by Driftwood Boutique

What are some of your favorite treatments that customers should book at Paragon Salon for the summer?

My current obsession is the Dermaplaning Facial with a Glycol Peel! The Dermaplaning re- moves the peach-fuzz from your face and gives a lite exfoliation. The Glycol peel is an awe- some anti-ager, it adds a deeper exfoliation and helps the skin retain water to improve plump- ness and helps to remove dark spots. It leaves your face unbelievably soft...

What does it mean to you to live an authentic, healthy life?

You must do what you love and also strive but be happy where you are at. My husband is very fond of saying that ‘life is wanting what you have, not having what you want’.

What are some of your favorite Upcountry eateries?

La Provence for breakfast, the benedict is a must. Makawao Garden Cafe for lunch, they have outdoor seating, great sandwiches and salads and the best lemonade. Makawao Steak house for a drink in the lounge and Nuka for dinner.

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What are your favorite ways to unwind?

I’m not good at relaxing, it mostly comes down to giving myself permission to sit and enjoy the life I work so hard to cultivate. But I’m realizing more and more how truly important it is to watch the sunset, read and book or lay in the grass and listen to the birds sing and give myself the mental break.

As a woman who networks you’re all about building relationships and making connections. What advice do you have for individuals who want to get involved in their community?

Do what ever you can big or small it all helps!! Don’t be afraid to reach out with ideas and defi- nitely encourage others to do the same.