Rehabbing a shipping container into a stylish boutique is just one of the many ways Mara and Desirea are doing things different with their retail concept. Guided by core values these ladies are offering goods that have mindful practices, support local and honor the land. Learn more about this powerhouse duo that got their start in the fashion industry and now are focusing on a new way to do good through their business practices and offerings.
Tell me about your mission of your biz, how does this define what you sell?
When I (Mara) first moved here I wasn’t as in tune with my health, well being and connection to nature. But being here, in the midst of the beauty inspired me to become more active and connected to myself and the natural world. It also nurtured a desire to care for this place in a way that is mindful - this has shaped our filter of what we sell. We want to help the environment and leave as little of a footprint ourselves as possible. There are so many aspects of this that we influence; our choice of food, what we use at home (cleaning, laundry, parties), our beauty routine and more. We are all learning and growing and we have lots of room to improve but its enough to start with one step at a time. Since we are both into fashion and passionate about the environment we had many ideas of what to sell and we wanted to educate in so many areas - but this is a small space! We had to narrow it down, deciding on a mix of things that are aligned in values of slow, sustainable, up-cycled, and ethically made fashion. The ethical piece was added in because we are both passionate about loving and encouraging other women of any size, color and ethnicity and supporting communities globally as well.
How do the two of you make a good team? what strengths do you bring to the table?
Desirea has lots of experience in running big corporations as she had one herself for years that specialized in payroll, HR, and so on. She also started her own clothing line Gypsy Rain and has great taste as she used to collect vintage items from a young age. She was a partner at Kaikini Bikinis and knows the back end of producing clothing and the work that goes into it. My background started in modeling and experiencing lots of fashion and designers. I've always loved the art around this business. I used to make T-shirt bags, dyeing them, sewing them and screen printing on them. I also worked as a house cleaner for awhile and saw many beautiful homes. This lead to me managing a rental property that I remodeled utilizing thrifted finds, vintage hotel furnishings and even the dump, along with new pieces mixed in. It was incredibly successful and the renters loved the unique look and artistic feel. We both have a passion for beautiful things that come from different places and are curated thoughtfully. We also balance each other out, Desirea running business aspects, marketing, events and design while I focus on the shop, staging the pieces we have, social media and design.
What has been challenging in the pursuit?
The location here has been very challenging and getting the foot traffic we desire. We hope to host more and continue to gather community together for events. It’s also challenging to learn a new business with inventory and how to balance when to order what along with timing.
Share a moment that has reassured you that your doing the right thing at the right time?
So many people have come in and love and support with what we are doing here. Its encouraging to see the way the word is spreading and when people come in they are sharing that so and so said they had to visit. Our customers identify with our purpose and understand the value of being mindful in their purchases. That has been so affirming for us. We also love all our local artists! Their joy and happiness when we sell their things means so much. We love that we get to support women who are as passionate as we are about what they do and value the environment.
What do you wish someone would have told you?
All the things that are different about opening up a store in a container! Like how hot it can get and that there’s only certain materials you can use when retrofitting because its metal walls. Its a totally different thing to work with and has forced us to be more creative in how we build.
Whats next and what are you looking forward to?
Next is the Aloha Aina Festival! Really excited about this with over 40 vendors partnering with us to make it amazing. Its all we are working on right now. Also looking forward to making our front porch of the store more friendly and building a hangout zone so more people can gather here.