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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.