Take a TOUR of our Starfish Tunic March 22, 2017 07:01

Our number one seller for many years now has been our Starfish Tunic.  This tunic has been around forever, and we just come out with new colors each season, to work with the popular swimsuit colors for the year.  This year NAVY is the WOW color for swimwear, so we have the Navy Starfish Tunic.  So if you are thinking about buying a navy blue swimsuit to wear on your cruise or Caribbean / Hawaiian vacation, this is the perfect cotton coverup.

Now I wanted to give you a TOUR of this tunic, and explain to you why this style is SO good to wear on your vacation.  The first and most important thing to mention is the fabric.... it is FINE cotton voille.  No polyester, no nylon, no synthetic man-made fibres of ANY SORT, which means no sweating in fabrics that don't breath and no heat rash.  You just need to look at the photo above to see how light and flowy this fabric is.  

Below is a photo of my sister Amy in the crisp White Starfish Tunic, and yes you can see how lightweight and cool this fabric is.  Now perhaps you are worried about it being see-through, and the white is more sheer than the navy.  This is really not a problem when you are wearing this on the beach over your swimsuit and it is SUPER HOT.  However, if you were going to wear this in the streets or to go shopping, you would simply need to add cotton pants or a layering dress underneath it.  In this photo Amy is wearing it over our Vacation Slip Dress.


The neckline of this tunic is quite a high round neckline with neck ties, which gives you the flexibility to wear it tied up on more formal occasions, such as cocktails and sundowners by the pool, or dinner on deck under the stars.

When you are wearing the tunic on the beach or in more casual situations like around the resort pool, its easy and flattering to wear the neckline untied and open like this.

Now because some of us island girls like a bit of vacation adventure, we have added side splits to this tunic, so that it is comfortable to wear when hiking or biking.  Again Amy is wearing the tunic over the Vacation Slip Dress in this photo.  Which brings me to the length of the tunic.....

Amy and I are both TALL girls.... good Australian / Dutch blood makes us 5 foot 10".  So these tunics at 33" length for a size M can be a bit short for us to wear out n about - again its ok over a swimsuit but not out on the street.  So we often layer the tunic with this little slip dress underneath, or wear it with white capri pants.  So that Vacation Slip Dress is perfect for adding length if you are tall, or to help if you are worried about it being see-through.  Here is a photo of Amy and one of her island friends (who is 5 foot 6") and you can see where the length falls on them both.

And just so you can see how this tunic looks without these gorgeous girls inside them.  Here is a photo of the Tropical Blue Starfish Tunic on the hanger.  Pure cotton simplicity.

I do love this photo of Amy and her pooch going for a bike ride on-island....where even the roads are made of white sand !  YES, you know its time for summer when even white sand roads capture my imagination!!  

AND aside from all the FUN features of our Starfish Tunic, did you also know it is actually quite famous !!!!  YES last summer it was featured in British VOGUE!  Here is a photo of me just a little bit excited about that!




Sailing and designing March 17, 2017 07:00

My husband and I were exploring the Caribbean on our little sail boat, with our 2 year old daughter when my good friend (who was the Production Manager at Billabong while I had been the Head Designer at Billabong South Africa) said to me "well when are you going to start your own line".  Until that time the thought had never crossed my mind.

I had access to amazing pure cotton fabrics from India, I was sailing around some of the most stunning islands on the planet and I had nothing nice to wear !  At the time my outfits were rayon sarongs and nasty t-shirts.  Here I am being a "dolphin whisperer" to the dolphins who visited us as we sailed along.  

And so West Indies Wear was born.  I used our "rice and beans" money to buy a laptop and started designing prints & color ways for the islands.  When the first lot of samples were ready, we were on the island of Grenada.  I contacted an old St.Maarten friend of mine who is Grenadian (we later named our 2nd daughter after Evie) and asked if she could please put me in touch with some of her family members, in the hope that they might receive the sample package for me.  Once we had samples, we hiked all over the island trying to take photos.

It was slow going building the customer base, as sail boat is not a very fast mode of transport, and the internet was just getting going.  Luckily buyers in the Caribbean had limited access to trade shows, and relied quite heavily on websites.  Often we would arrive on a new island and we would go ashore in our dinghy to show the line.  My husband would have to keep our daughter entertained on the beach while I went to see the buyer.  Here we are on the dinghy.

My husband was snorkeling and looking for dinner one day and found this starfish.  My daughter and I were in the dinghy nearby, so he put it in the dinghy with us.  My daughter was AMAZED.  Yes I had to paint that bikini bottom on her, as it was always a real battle to get her to wear clothes!  She liked seeing that starfish, but it wasn't allowed to stay in the dinghy with us for long.

So this starfish turned into this SEA STAR SARONG, which is still in the line today.  Sailing around the islands sure did give me an endless supply of inspiration.

Have you heard of the island of Redonda? March 15, 2017 22:05

Have you ever heard of the Caribbean island of Redonda - it's actually a KINGDOM!  Not exactly a resort destination, it hasn't been lived on since the first world war, and even then it was only inhabited for a short period of mining.  It is really just a big rock, with nowhere to anchor and no easy access to get ashore.  No beach, no palm trees, the only thing it does have is some goats, and some unique species of lizards that can only be found on Redonda.  The thing that I find fascinating though is that some eccentric Irishman claimed it as his own, named it the Kingdom of Redonda and he was thus the King.  He then passed this claim down to his 15 year old son.  Somehow this "Kingdom" has survived and even though the island is now a dependency of Antigua & Bermuda, there are apparently 9 pretenders to the "throne" of Redonda.  Click here to read a blog post about it.

This photo shows how imposing the island is.  Not exactly the tropical island destination you might have in mind when you think of the Caribbean.

One time we were happily sailing by Redonda, until my ever watchful captain spotted a waterspout.  Oh how exciting I thought.... let me get the camera!  But this waterspout seemingly bee-lined it straight for us, even though we were the only thing out there, closer and closer it came.  It wasn't a stormy day, so how could that be dangerous!  Here is a photo I found that is similar.

Now as your imagination takes hold of the scenario of this thing hitting us, you kind of go into a panic.  We were frantically trying to pull the sails down and secure things on the deck.  Then my husband tells me to put our 2 year old daughter down below..... where can I possibly put her that is safe?  Here is a photo of her happily playing with her blocks while we were sailing along.

I put her in her bed - with all the pillows & comforters I could find.  Left her screaming to go and watch this thing coming.  As it got closer is fizzled out and passed behind us, whipping up the water on the surface, but not nearly as bad as my imagination after all.

That is the island of Nevis in the background, and Redonda is just to the right (out of the picture).  

You got to keep your crazy imagination in check when you go on an adventure.



2017 - Top 10 March 05, 2017 21:28

I have had a few emails asking me to list the top 10 sellers in our clothing collection for 2017, so I thought I would let you all know.  Now this is out of our "new" 2017 styles only, so it doesn't include the Starfish Tunic - which is in the collection every year and is always #1.  The new NAVY BLUE starfish tunic is the overall number 1, and the inventory is very low in all sizes.  Yes.... it will soon be sold out.


If you wanted more information about each style - such as fabric types etc.  Click here to visit the page with all of 2017 styles on it.

Have an amazing vacation island friends x

How another boat baby ended up living the island dream... March 02, 2017 23:11

Johanna van't Hof was born on the tiny island of Bonaire, and lived onboard the family sail boat for several years before they settled on the island of Saba when she was 8 years old.  I love this grainy old black & white photo of Johanna & her brother on the bow of the boat.
She grew up on Saba until high school, when she left to do her high school education in Florida and from there off to study at university in her parents homeland of Holland, but the islands were already flowing in her blood.  She met her husband Wim, at university and the two were bound to end up back in the islands.  
Wim also had an unconventional upbringing, having been born in Holland, grew up in California, high school in France, and then to university back in Holland.  As soon as the two graduated they moved straight back to Saba.  Saba is one of my most favorite islands, unconventional itself, as there is no typical Caribbean white sandy beach, however the views, rainforests, hiking and diving are the most incredible in the island chain.  Look at how stunning it looks from the air.
The pair got the amazing opportunity to purchase Juliana's Hotel and Tropics Cafe in January 2003, and they have been loving life ever since!
Now this is the cutest hotel on the island, all the rooms are built in traditional old Caribbean cottages.  Click here to visit their website.
It is a small intimate boutique hotel with only 14 rooms, offering incredible ocean views.  Then there are 3 adorable two bedroom cottages that are perfect for families.  How stunning is this room with its traditional West Indian mahogany 4 poster bed - and look at that hammock on the terrace with the most amazing view.  
These guys are very passionate about their business, constantly upgrading the hotel, and the attached Tropics Cafe. They're hands on owners, serving breakfast to their guests daily, so that they can get to know them all and take care of any questions they might have before they start their day of island exploring or diving.
Happy Hours at their outdoor Tipsy Goat Bar are island famous!  Here is Wim making some gorgeous looking cocktails.... YUM !
The island of Saba is not like the famous cruise-ship style islands of the Caribbean.  It's quiet and peaceful and traffic on the island is more likely to be goats than cars.  So shopping on the island when I was last there, consisted of dive shops and some ladies making traditional Saba lace in their homes.   Click here to read more about traditional Saba lace work.  Obviously everyone wants to take home from such a unique island so Johanna started a small gift shop with logo-ed t shirts, tank tops, koozies etc.  The basics sold well, so the next step was to give up their garage for a new front office with extra space for more gifts.
Johanna says "we came across West Indies Wear.  We love the material, colors and the island theme fits very well with our "keeping it island and happy" concept. We're very happy with West Indies Wear and our guests love it as well."  How cute do their employee's look in our clothing too!

Ocean Crossing before I was 30 - what could possibly go wrong? February 28, 2017 06:32


In my 20's I graduated Fashion School, did really well in Australia Fashion Awards, got a fashion industry job quickly and got valuable industry experience.... but once that education was done, I just wanted to go traveling and see the world.  I wanted to work in the rag trade overseas.

I worked hard and saved hard.  I had a job doing computer pattern-making during the day and then went home and did manual pattern-making on my bedroom floor at night for extra dollars.  A round the world ticket for a young person in Australia is not cheap, because being "down under" is a LONG WAY from anywhere I wanted to go.

Once I left home I worked in some incredible places and went on some amazing adventures, but my most reckless adventure was setting sail in a tiny boat across the ocean from South Africa to the Caribbean.  Here is a photo of our tiny boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

I have inherited this habit of recklessness from my father.  We have a saying in Australia ....."she'll be right mate", it just means everything will be ok.... without even giving any thought of what might go wrong.  No common sense perhaps?  or downright crazy?

Our little sail across the ocean was "alright thanks mate", but it sure wasn't without some scary moments.

The day we sailed around the infamous Cape of Good Hope, I stupidly got my 2 little fingers stuck in winch - squashed between the rope that held the sail, so the full force of the wind in the sails was on my little fingers.  My "Mr Careful" (now my husband) calmly took the pressure off the sail, released my fingers and told me all was fine - despite the fact that they were mangled into a rope shape, they were indeed fine.  I still threw up!  

Here is a photo of the treacherous Cape of Good Hope, at the southern tip of Africa.

We waited about 6 weeks in Cape Town before we found a weather window that we thought would give us enough time to get far enough away from Cape Town to miss that nasty weather it is famous for.... It is not called the "Cape of Storms" for nothing.  If you haven't heard about the strong winds at the Southern tip of Africa, google images of Cape Town wind, and you will get photos like this....

We finally threw off the ropes and motored out of the harbour, I will never forget how I felt that day.... sick at the craziness of what we were doing, but wanting to go anyway.  We got away ok and after about 2 days at sea, that Cape of Storms lived up to its name and we spent 2 days in a massive storm, with huge seas and strong winds.  We were in survival mode.  Looking back through the log book every entry says, "seas dropping, wind steady" and then  4 hours later "still rolly sea, but sea dropping".  Later again, "not comfortable on board, being thrown around heaps.  I just got thrown onto the stove - lucky it wasn't on".  And so it went on and on, with our wishful thinking "seas dropping" but all the while we were steering the boat looking backwards so that you could see the waves coming and surf down them.  The next day my entry in the log book says "Sea calm but rolly, storm is over, washed & dried everything, eaten now.  We just need sleep".

Sleep was definitely the most craved thing as we took turns to stay up all night steering the boat and keeping a look out for ships.  We had one close call with a ship.  "Mr Careful" spotted it and told me to get on the radio and make sure they had seen us on their radar.  So I call up "Big Ship Big Ship, this is the sailing vessel Miroba, do you see us, over", they come back saying yes they have seen us and they are coming in for a closer look.  I report that back to my Captain who says "How do you know you were talking to THAT ship" since perhaps I was talking to another ship that was just over the horizon out of view.  SO I had to get back on the radio and ask again.  Yes they are coming in for a closer look they said.... Well our engine wasn't working (it had broken down in that big storm), there was no wind, so we were sitting still in the middle of the ocean like sitting ducks.  This enormous container ship came towards us at 40 knots speed, and we couldn't move if we wanted to.

It was terrifying even though they passed 100 yards off, because with a vessel THAT BIG coming towards us at THAT SPEED, it looked like they were heading straight for us.  As they passed, all 10 of their crew members came on deck to wave and shout WOOHOOO at us.  Exhilarating, the first other humans we had seen in a week.  Here is a photo of that "big ship".

But my scariest mid-ocean moment was a close encounter with a whale.

So it was the middle of the night and my husband was coming onto shift.  We had a cup of tea together in the cockpit before I went off to sleep.  It was an incredibly clear night, no clouds, the moon was almost full.  We really couldnt see anything outside the cockpit, but I suddenly saw that the surface of the water right next to the boat looked weird.  Next thing there was a very loud blow of air and a strong fishy smell.  A whale had surfaced right next to us.  

Someone in the previous port had told us that if there are whales around, you should put on your depth sounder and they pick up those signals and stay away from you.  We got such a fright the 2 of us dived to go down below and turn on the depth sounder, but we were both wearing harnesses attached at the back of the boat, so we both just stopped dead in our tracks.  It was chaos, a bit like a comedy skit I suppose.

I don't know if that whale was sleeping and we just missed him, or if he saw us and came in closer to investigate, but my legs were like jelly and my hands shook for 1/2 hour.  If we had have hit him we would have sunk quickly.  Not a pleasant thought.

Best not to think of the "what if's" when you are 2000 miles from the nearest land.

How to prepare for a Vacation Boat Trip. January 23, 2017 00:38

I love the sea.  To me, the motion of sailing is heaven, but not everyone shares my love of boating.  When in the Caribbean however, it gives a whole new perspective to look back at the island from the sea.  

The Caribbean offers the most amazing boat trips, from full day sails to neighbouring islands, or snorkelling trips that stay within the calm waters, or romantic sunset cruises.  

A boat trip lets you experinece the different shades of turquoise from the aqua of a shallow sandy bay, to the dark indigo blue in the deep water.  To watch the sun set over the sea, keeping your eyes on the horizon to catch a glimpse of the green flash, and then return to port after dark, 
to see the islands sparkle in their night lights.

The thing about boat trips though is that they can be unpredictable.  
They can have you return to port, feeling freezing cold and wet from the spray, seasick or sunburnt and sloshed from too much rum punch.


My tips for your boat trip are.....

*  Enquire about the sea conditions as not everyday is postcard perfect out there.
* Take a wide brim hat.  It's ideal if it has a strap or adjustable tie so that you can tighten it to ensure it doesn't blow off in the wind.  
*  Wear a long sleeve top (preferably in cool cotton) as the sun is much harsher on the water.
*  Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after every swim.  Clear zinc for the face, as normal sunscreen runs into your eyes when you swim & stings.  
*  Take chapstick for your lips.
* Polarised sunglasses are fantastic on the water.
*  Take a wind breaker jacket (especially for sunset cruises) as it is often cold and wet on the return sail.
*  Remember to take your camera & ensure it is fully charged.
*  There are some great patches now for seasickness, so if you are worried about that, visit your pharmacy before your trip.

Have you heard of the "green flash" at sunset?  
Make sure you don't take your eyes off the horizon as the sun sets on a really clear day.  Don't blink.
I never managed to get my own photo, but this is what google images shows.

Be brave.... explore, see the island from the sea.  #totallyworthit

How to pack for your island vacation January 16, 2017 06:05

Today I want to give you some tips on what to pack and
what NOT to pack for your island vacation.

Take heed of the old rule for packing ...

Pack everything you think you need onto the bed,
then put half of it back into your cupboard.

You will seriously wear the same things over and over again.

WHAT TO PACK for your island vacation.

  • Passport
  • 2 Swimsuits
  • 2 cotton sarongs (they have a million uses)
  • 4 lightweight dresses (preferably cotton or linen)
  • 4 lightweight tunic tops (again cotton or linen are best)
  • Two pairs of capri pants to wear to dinner (cotton or linen) colors that work back with your tunics & tops
  • Two pairs of shorts
  • Two t-shirts or fine cotton tops
  • One pair of plain flip flops
  • One pair of sparkly sandals
  • One pair of shoes to hike in or water shoes
  • Sunscreen, bug spray & lip balm
  • Light cardigan for the evenings & airplane
  • Wind breaker (if planning a boat trip)
  • Hat - preferably with adjustable strap
  • Sunglasses
  • Day bag or beach bag
  • Phone & chargers
  • Pack some essentials in your carry-on just incase of late arriving luggage

Things NOT TO PACK for your island vacation

  • Towels - your hotel or cruiseship supply them in your room and around the beach or pool.... when you go out hiking to that waterfall, use your sarong as a towel.
  • Jeans (its too hot)
  • Synthetic fabrics - like rayon, polyester or nylon.... too hot.
  • HIgh heels
  • Hair dryer
  • Expensive jewelry
  • Take minimal make-up only.... the heat makes it melt of your face.

Eating out in the Caribbean January 07, 2017 20:32

Eating out in the Caribbean can be an experience not unlike eating out in the US, but only if you stick to the hotel or cruise ship buffet bar.  For me the highlight of eating out in the Caribbean is more about the setting, the view,  and the smiles.

Imagine sitting on the beach, with an umbrella overhead, your toes in the sand and the occasional wave washing over your feet and cooling your ankles.  The kids are playing happily in the water nearby, leaving you and your partner the peace to actually hold a conversation.  As a mother of 3 young children, peace features strongly on my wish list.

You watch the sun set over the sea, as you sip some incredible home made rum punch, or an ice cold Caribe Beer.  The snacks are amazing, and keep you going until you lazily order your mains after dark.   

 Often these little beach restaurants have a live band playing reggae music or even pan music in the more southern islands.  

When you eat out in the Caribbean I recommend making the setting and location your number one priority.  If I think back to all of my favourites, they are all on the beach or dock just footsteps from the water, or up in the rainforest with incredible views out to sea.  

What to wear when you eat out?  This is your opportunity to wear a synthetic fabric, as the evenings are cooler.  Go for some sparkle and sequins and some glitzy sandals.  You should remember to take a cardigan because in the winter months the wind can pick up in the evenings, and if there is no breeze you should take some bug spray, although most beach bars supply it.


So make sure you adventure out of your comfort zone, and try out the beach shacks with the best views..... you won't be sorry.

One Love island friends x

Arrival in the Caribbean... January 06, 2017 21:01

The first thing that struck me on arrival on my first Caribbean island was the smell.  The sweet smell of fresh earth after a rain, the fragrance of the tree's in full bloom, wood smoke, and OH MY GOD.... a bakery! I could smell fresh bread breaking.

We were making landfall in Tobago, after a journey of 55 gruelling days at sea.  I was finally arriving in the tropical heaven I had been dreaming of for 2 years.

After securing our little sailboat to the customs dock, we made our way on wobbly legs to the immigration office, where we cleared in to PARADISE.  We were granted a 3 month stay, who would have guessed this would turn into a 10 year stay!

I fell in love with the Caribbean.  Not just the clear turquoise water and palm fringed white beaches.  I fell in love with the easy pace of life, the laughter, the spicy food, the cheap rum and of course the people.

For those of you heading to the Caribbean for the first time this season, the number one tip is to leave your first world pace of life at home.  Accept the pace of island life is different.  Its unhurried, there is no rush, there are no deadlines.  As good as this may sound, if you are not used to it, this can be the most frustrating.  The Caribbean people are on island time, and when in Rome.... do as the Romans do.  So switch off your iPhones and switch on Island Time.

Accept that the sun comes up, the water is warm, the beaches are white and the beach bars are welcoming.  The Caribbean people are in no hurry, and if you try to hurry them up, they will slow down.  So make a joke with them, make them laugh, make them smile, and you will be served with the biggest smile and best service you have ever had.

One Love island friends... x



How to upgrade your vacation in one simple step.... January 04, 2017 04:28

Happy New Year island friends !

Let me help you plan a perfect vacation.

Don't you just LOVE the possibility of an incoming new year.  Have you set your goals?  Do you have some exciting adventures planned?  With so many of our friends heading south to the islands in February & March, I decided to create a special 10 day VACATION UPGRADE program for you all.  It's totally free, and I hope it helps you to plan and create an amazing vacation.

..... and if you stick with us for the full 10 day program, you will be in the running to win a $200 island wardrobe.  There are 5 of these $200 vouchers up for grabs, so 5 island friends will be heading off to paradise in clothing that is perfectly suited to the tropics.

It's a win-win.

I know from my 10 years living in the Caribbean that February and March were the craziest busiest months on the island.  A lot of my time in the Caribbean I lived in St.Maarten, which many of you will have been to or be planning to visit.  Some days in February and March there would be 9 ships in port.  Now if there are a few thousand people on each ship, thats quite an influx of people onto one teeny tiny little 37 square mile piece of land.  What are all those people going to do for the day?

Island residents love the excitement of these days, they know they are going to make money on those 9 ship days, and they will be stocking up and getting ready.  I loved to wake up and wander outside to our deck to have my morning coffee and watch the ships arrive.

So if you or anyone you know, is planning an island getaway in 2017, I am offering this FREE 10 day series of emails with advice and "how to's".

I will cover things such as....

* How to cope with driving on the island

* How to deal with "island time"

* How to dress for different scenario's (beach, dinner, markets)

* How to prepare your family for a boat trip

And then after 10 days you get a chance to win our Island Wardrobe Giveway.  This program & giveaway is open to our "island friends only" ... that means you must be on our MAILING LIST.  You possibly already are.... if not join by entering your email address into our NEWSLETTER tab at the bottom of the HOME page. It looks like this....

If you have friends traveling soon, be sure to tell them to join too!

Good luck island friends x 


How I designed the 2017 collection November 23, 2016 21:59 1 Comment

A lot of you have been emailing me lately to say
how much you are enjoying my stories.... thank you!  I love hearing from you.

Would you be interested in a 5 minute peek "behind the scenes" as I explain
how I go about the design process for each collection?
Click here to watch this video.

I would love to share some of my island knowledge with you, how to pack for your island vacation, how to wear a sarong, the advantages of wearing cotton.... are just some of my ideas.  What are yours?

WEST INDIES WEAR - Meet the designer Kim November 14, 2016 21:51

A lot of you have been emailing lately to let me know how much you are enjoying my blog post stories and it occurred to me that a lot of my
loyal island friends haven't even met me....
so I have created a little 5 minute video to introduce myself.  

Click here to view the video.

I am planning to do a bunch of video's for you guys over the coming weeks.  So if there is something you would like me to talk about, please let me know.

I would love to share some of my island knowledge with you, how to pack for your island vacation, how to wear a sarong, the advantages of wearing cotton.... are just some of my ideas.  What are yours?

If you have missed any of my blog posts about our sailing adventures, or how we got started... click here and scroll through them all.


Caribbean SNOW November 01, 2016 20:27

My daughter was born in Australia but as soon as she got her passport at 2 months of age we left and by the time she was 4 months of age we had moved to the Caribbean, back to our boat.  Here she is learning to walk on the uneven deck.

Her first 7 years were a somewhat unique beginning.  We lived on our boat, and we house-sat for "land friends".  We sailed around the islands for some of it, and we lived the 9-5 life in St.Maarten for some of it.  Here is a photo of her in the car seat in the dinghy.

 During our years in St.Maarten I ran a chain of 16 gift shops by day, and ran West Indies Wear at night.  It was a busy time.  We occasionally escaped the madness of that "city" island and took The Edge ferry across to Saba.  One of my favorite islands in the Caribbean.  There is no white sandy beach here, but amazing hiking and diving.

 The scenery is spectacular, and because of the mountain its actually cooler than a lot of the other low lying Caribbean islands. 


 We would hike all the trails around the island and our little girl would be right there with us.  Sometimes she was carried by dad, which had a great mango picking advantage, because he is really tall.


We stayed at Juliana's Hotel in Saba - it has the most adorable traditional West Indian Cottages, and they carry West Indies Wear in their boutique.

Here I am chilling out in a sarong after our hiking and swimming.  Catching up on old emails, while the "exhausted from all the hiking 5 year old" SLEPT.

I remember one trip on The Edge Ferry, where we sat right up the front with the Captain.  My daughter chatted the whole way.  On the way to Saba we passed Diamond Rock, which is a steep pinnacle famous for its amazing diving, but above the water it is a spot for the sea birds to hang out on.  The rock is completely white, because its covered in bird poo.  My "island-girl" daughter had only heard about SNOW, never touched it, and as we didnt have a TV, she might not even have ever seen it.  She says in her loud 5 year old voice "IS THAT SNOW?????".  Well the Captain nearly died laughing, and he kept repeating "Caribbean Snow" for the rest of the journey.  It was the funniest thing he had ever heard!  Here is a photo of Captain Mikey, and you can click here to book your trip over on the ferry. 

Here is a photo of Diamond Rock.  You can see how white it is compared to the rock next to it.  Click on this photo to read more about the diving around this incredible pinnacle. 

Such an amazing island, a little off the beaten track but so worth the effort to catch the ferry over. A lovely slow pace, with hardly any traffic.  AND perhaps you will get to see Caribbean SNOW too !

Australian Fashion Industry Awards FINALIST 1992 October 24, 2016 22:38

I have been meaning to do this blog post for quite a long time.  Remember when they crowned the wrong Miss World and it was all over the news.... it reminded me of when I was in my final year at Fashion College and I was selected to be the student to represent my college at the Australia Industry Fashion Awards.  I worked very hard to put together the collection to dress 5 models in resort wear on the runway, whilst still attending classes and working all weekend at a Department Store selling mens business shirts, to help pay for fabrics and accessories.  I dyed & hand printed my own fabrics, sourced brightly colored leather to make the belts, and even made the hats.  I had help from the most amazing lecturer ever, Wendy Armstrong, who would even take home some of the hand sewing on the weekends.

So finally all the work was done and I had to send the whole collection away to Sydney to be judged and wait to hear.  Weeks later I was in the school canteen and got a call from the Fashion Lecturers that I had been selected as one of the Top 3 finalists from all the fashion colleges in Australia.  I called my mum and cried.  Here are some photos of the collection.

Months later off I went to Sydney for an all expenses paid trip to attend the glittering fashion show which was telecast LIVE all around Australia. I was just 21 and had just graduated. It was a big deal, with all the biggest Fashion Designers in Australia at the time in attendance.   Us students were tabled in the back corner, where we couldn't hear what was being said on stage.  It was amazing to watch our garments float down the catwalk.  When they announced the winner though, we couldnt hear who they said, we just saw which set of models came back down the runway.... they weren't my models, so it wasn't me.  One of the other 2 students rushed up on stage to accept her trophy and make her speech.  Halfway through her speech she looked down at her trophy and saw someone else's name, she stammered but carried on.  YES the wrong set of models had come down the catwalk and thus the wrong designer accepted the award.  I felt sorry for them both, but I was glad I was left out of it.  Here is a copy of my gold embossed certificate.

So a few months ago I dug out the old VHS video tape of the event and sent it off to be put onto DVD.  Such an amazing blast back in time to early 90's Australia (the TV adverts are hilarious) but the highlight of it all, was that a very young Hugh Jackman was the presenter that night..... so he said MY NAME as my collection came onstage and floated down the catwalk in true 90's style.  How exciting.  I wonder if he still remembers me?  Here is the link 

Here are a few of the newspaper clippings from the lead up to the awards....

Isn't it ironic that I ended up still designing resort wear all these years later... and I still have a "thing" for bright colors. Look at what has just arrived for 2017.

Hurricane GO AWAY October 06, 2016 06:51

When we first sailed to the Caribbean we nobly decided that we would always keep ourselves and our humble vessel out of the hurricane zone.  Well that lasted one hurricane season, and after that we endured many many years of stressful hurricane seasons up north in the firing line.... all because well, we had to earn a living.  During our 10 years in the Caribbean we were actually VERY lucky, only going through 3 hurricanes, (and not on the scale of Hurricane Matthew) but we also tried to minimize our risk by hauling our boat, and even living onboard in the boat yard the first time.  Here is a photo of me hanging laundry in the rubble of the boat yard.

Not exactly the glamorous life of Caribbean sailing you had all imagined is it ! Here is another photo of me showering under the boat.... ok I am only putting this one in because LOOK HOW GOOD I LOOK IN A BIKINI.... sneaky !

Still now as Hurricane Matthew roars through the Bahamas on its steady way to Florida, I feel SICK to my core thinking about all of my many many island friends out there.... with their boats, houses, businesses, cars and most importantly their LOVED ONES, all preparing for the worst.  Here is a photo that my friend Alyson Levy posted today of Jacksonville.

There is no WORSE a sky than a hurricane sky.  The first time I saw a sky like this, we were house sitting for a friend in St.Maarten with our 1 year old baby girl.  Our boat was safe in the yard and we had this amazing view across the sea to St.Barths.  We had busted our butts for days preparing everything for the boats, house and business in our charge as Hurricane Frances roared towards us.  Exhausted we sat on the deck that evening watching the weird sky.  Conditions go so erie when a hurricane is coming.  The air is still like the 'calm before the storm'.  The birds all disappear to another island, and the clouds circle overhead in the opposite direction to their norm.  Here is a photo of the sun setting under the dark clouds of Hurricane Frances.

That was my first experience of a hurricane, and it missed us, passed safely out to sea north of Anguilla.  Other times we were not so lucky, but I am always reminded of that sick erie feeling when a hurricane is coming.  Many times I have sat up late at night waiting for the NOAA updates and held my breath as Grenada disappeared under Hurricane Ivan or New Orleans under Hurricane Katrina.  Sick erie feeling... 

Tonight I await updates on Hurricane Matthew - send positive vibes and ONE LOVE to all of my friends in his path and wait to hear from the school in Haiti where our sponsored student Edine attends school, as Haiti has already been hit.  Why does Haiti always seem to get hit?

We do have orders ready to ship this week, and the new CORAL sarongs have arrived on Tuesday - but we will not be shipping this week, as we are boarded up and hunkered down as our warehouse is also in the current path.  Pray for us too, especially Lauren & her family who have worked so hard these last few days preparing for a major storm.

#onelove #islandsmiles


Long haul September 19, 2016 23:27

I live in a small town, 1 hour flight north of Sydney, Australia.  I have travelled to USA three times in the last 3 months to show the new collection and catch up with island friends at 3 different shows.  Each time I arrange a schedule for my husband, mum and mother-in-law to fill in my role with our 3 children (3, 5 and 12) for their various weekly activities.

The journey to Florida takes between 24 to 30 hours by the time you add up flying time and airport waiting time.  It's crazy.  Here is a photo of my flight over Sydney Harbour.  WOW, always stunning, even on a grey day.

Once in Florida I am at work.... no time for jet lag, its straight into the warehouse for Lauren, Amy & I.  

Here I am counting inventory the next morning after I arrived.

Look at those empty shelves behind me where the STARFISH TUNICS are almost sold out.  More coming next week - can't wait to get that new NAVY / WHITE one.  

Seen here on the catwalk @SurfExpo.

The day after that we take the 2 hour drive up to Orlando.  

Here is my baby sister Amy & myself - getting ready to concentrate on driving on the right side of the road.... see the boxes and sarongs packed in the van behind us.

When we get there we offload 2 vehicles in horrid Florida humidity and start building the booth.  

Now we are a bunch of island girls, so our booth is "built" with ... sugar , spice & well..... packing tape mostly.

Then its off for dinner and nights filled with wine and sarong rolling....

This new sarong packaging was only supposed to be for the new 2017 sarongs going forward, but since EVERYONE loved it, we find ourselves rolling and tying EVERY sarong in the warehouse.  

Worth it, cause it does look cute and does make it easy for you retailers to display them.

SHOW TIME.... love catching up with "island friends".... now everyone is giving me a hard time about this photo as I am clearly being a slacker, sipping tea while everyone else is working, but I had this 3pm jet lag SLUMP going on.... serious... there is such a thing!

We had a lovely surprise bridal shower for Amy.... complete with cup cakes, gifts and champagne.

...and now I am back home, FINALLY caught up on all the order entry.  WOW it was a busy show.... BEST SHOW EVER actually.  

Apparently you guys like what I have put together for 2017.  So nice of you all to make all of my hard work worthwhile.  

Thank you island friends xx  oooh ok and here is the wedding photo !!  tears of love x

Sorry... one more... not sure if it is something borrowed or something BLUE, but those were "my" favorite bracelets (wear every day of the week) last week ! 

How my sailing around the Caribbean over 10 years ago has grown into a journey of another kind..... with so many wonderful island friends.

How lucky we are x




One Love for Haiti August 30, 2016 21:55

Back in late 2009 I had the privilege of visiting the island of Haiti on a buyer's trip.  I have to say it was one of the most amazing islands in the Caribbean (and I was lucky enough to visit quite a few of them over the years)

While we were there we visited the homes and market places of artisans who did amazing work, like this life size sculpture.

The hotel we stayed in had all these incredible sculptures scattered around the grounds.

Outside the hotel grounds though, the island was poor, and the people struggled to etch a living for their families.

Just a month after my visit, Port-au-Prince was flattened by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the epicenter of which was only 16 miles west of the city.  This is how that beautiful hotel looked afterwards.  220 died there.

Can you even begin to imagine how these already poor people endured afterwards?  How many children lost their parents?  My heart goes out to the Haitian people.  
One small thing I wanted to do was sponsor a child's education.

This is the 4th school year we have sponsored Edine to go to school, and she now dreams of being a nurse.  School in Haiti has thirteen grades, so if she continues to do well, she will graduate in five years. When she does she will have accomplished what only 2% of Haitians ever get the chance to do.

2% !!!!!!  Can that statistic be true?
If this young girl wants to work hard to achieve her dreams, then I will do everything I can to help her.  Click here to see the video she sent to me this summer.

If you would like to sponsor a child to go to school this year in Haiti I highly recommend and check out this thank you video here.



Save Turtles & WIN a sarong August 05, 2016 01:33

As you know we are island people who love the sea and all the creatures in it.
Since we designed our TURTLE LOVE sarong, we decided to donate some proceeds to SEE Turtles which has the cutest little campaign to save a Billion Baby Turtles.  Click through to their site here.

Back in April we did a blog post about the turtles
and how we came to want to help.  Click here to read it.

This week we have also been running a GIVEAWAY of our TURTLE LOVE sarong to help the baby turtles some more.

So today 5th August they are going to be running a last chance giveaway here on their Facebook page. The giveaway hasn't even gone live yet - we wanted you guys to hear it first from us!!!!  SNEAKY I know.

To enter you just need to comment on the post with how you help the ocean (and don't forget to like, share, and follow us & SEE Turtles)  Good luck x

I learnt something about the turtles dying from swallowing balloons from an earlier entry on instagram... 


Coastal store love... July 29, 2016 00:35

Every summer our humble little Caribbean-island collection finds itself in some of the cutest little island stores around the world.  Sometimes not even on actual islands, but in the cutest little coastal towns.  One such town is Fairhope in Alabama.  A small town with a population of about 17,000 people and approximately the same amount of flowers in the downtown area.  Its a small town with a BIG flower budget.

This summer we have been featured in the store name SIMPLY DIVINE BOUTIQUE in downtown Fairhope and owner Cassandra is an adorable mom of 2, who was a registered nurse for 18 years before she found herself at Americasmart in Atlanta and on a whim she decided she wanted to sell something.... anything!  

What a success story, that her little boutique started out as a home show accessories company which soon outgrew her living room and expanded into a tiny space in the main street, and then expanded again to take out walls in that boutique and grow into larger boutique with space for apparel.  Her goal is to make every guest who enters feel as if they are coming into their best friends closet.  Good ole Southern Hospitality at its best.  

She was telling me this story about “Jubilee”.  Now I am a boat girl and island girl, but I had never heard of a Jubilee like this before.  "Jubilee" is the word given to a natural phenomenon which only happens in 2 places in the whole world, one is on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and the other one is in Tokyo Bay, Japan.  So what happens is that sometime in summer a lack of oxygen in the water causes flounder, crabs and shrimp to swim up to the shore.    Certain weather conditions cause this to happen, and Cassandra well remembers her mother noticing these conditions and predicting a jubilee.  She would load her 5 children into the car and off they would go on a family "abundant seafood mission”.   Sounds like good old family fun.... back when we searched for real things and not pokemon!
If you find yourself in Fairhope AL for Jubilee anytime soon, be sure to call in and say HI to Cassandra @ Simply Divine, 319 Fairhope Avenue, Suite 5, Fairhope, Al. 36532
Ph : 251-990-7964

Pure Cotton Miracle July 25, 2016 23:08

Did you know that our sarongs and clothing are predominantly made of PURE COTTON.
A lot of our competitors products are made of RAYON or VISCOSE RAYON (same thing)
Cotton is grown on a cotton bush in 5-6 months.  There are some great photos here.
Rayon is grown as a tree (taking years before ready to harvest) and then it is chemically processed to remove everything but the part that can be regenerated into man-made fibers for weaving fabric.
Cotton fibers are longer thus MUCH stronger than rayon (as they have fewer joins), which is why our fabrics rarely get holes from wear - whereas viscose fabrics do tend to weaken and get holes after wear.
Another interesting fact is that cotton gets stronger after it is wet, whereas viscose rayon gets weaker when it is wet.  So in the case of our pure cotton sarongs - they are more absorbant (great to use as a towel) and are stronger when wet and less likely tear or get holes.
Also note that as Viscose Rayon is a man-made regenerated fiber which goes through a lot of complex chemical processes to create, a lot more so than cotton, makes it a lot more of an ecologically friendly fabric.
Add to this the fact that pure cotton is SO MUCH COOLER to wear in the tropics because the fabric can BREATH….. I think we have a WIN WIN !!
Be sure to check the label or description of your garments to ensure you get 100% cotton.  
Here is a link to an article which explains the difference in more detail.

Sneak Peek at 2017 - Miami Swim Show July 13, 2016 01:17

Normally I don't release the new collection until early September at Surf Expo.

This year however we were accepted into Miami Swim Show (the worlds biggest Swimwear show), and as that is on next week (JULY !!!!) its been a mad scramble to get everything ready.  Luckily I work with GREAT factories who have proven themselves capable of pulling miracles out of nowhere, and I have had to work late to get everything ready to roll, however there is no time to send all the sample off to my sister Amy for a tropical island photo shoot.  This year we will have to wait until after the summer shows to get our photos taken.  Here is a photo of our island friends in some of our pure cotton sarongs taken by our photographer @ShawnJackson at Mayoka Lodge in Roatan last season.

Photo shoot time always takes me back to the early days when we started West Indies Wear 10 years ago.  A photo shoot was a family affair, where we took the boat (our home) to a glamorous Caribbean beach, and then went ashore to take photos.  My husband with the camera, me in the samples and my daughter with a back-pack full of food to try to keep her quiet while we worked.  Inevitably she just wanted to get in on the action.

Now I have 3 kids and haven't appeared in a photo shoot for MANY years.  Many of you possibly have no idea what this designer named Kim who shares her stories with you, even looks like!  These days it is my much younger sister Amy and her island friends who wear the samples and look so amazing.  This is Amy in our cotton Hibiscus sarong.

Yesterday as I was packing for Miami, I put one of our new dresses on (over my jeans because its mid-winter here in Australia and too cold to take those off).  I wanted to send a sneak peek of it to our awesome sales team in USA, so my baby girl who is now 12 became the photographer.  What is about kids these days, you hand over your iPhone and the next thing they have switched it to some mode you have never heard of before !  So I ended up with a photo "burst" of 54 photos of me being somewhat silly !  Well we had some good giggles and my sales team all said the photos were cute, so perhaps I will be brave enough to share them with you guys too!

I hope I get to meet you guys in person at one of our summer shows...

Caribbean Gift Shop Memories June 22, 2016 01:15

For my last 4 years in the Caribbean, I was a General Manager and thus head buyer for a chain of gift shops in St.Maarten called Shipwreck Shops.  I managed 16 stores and 52 employees by day and then went home and continued to run West Indies Wear and design new collections at night.

The company was started by a young Dutch couple in the early 70's when St.Maarten was a quiet little island of infinite beauty, and a burgeoning tourist market.  

When I worked there the company was owned by a big retail corporation which was off-island, so except for a few visits a year to check up on me, I was fairly much left to make my own decisions, with lots of help from the amazing team of Caribbean workers who had worked there for up to 40 years, since the company started.  They were from all the nations of the Caribbean.... Anguilla, Dominica, St.Kitts & Nevis, Antigua, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Suriname, and yes even some from St.Maarten itself.  It was an all-nations company, but then St.Maarten really is an all-nations country.

There were tough times at first as I struggled to gain the respect of the people who had worked there forever, but I worked hard alongside them and always tried to be fair.  We re-fitted many shops, we opened new shops, we painted the warehouse in my crazy island colors.  I took all the photos, made the websites, signs, and did all the marketing.  It was a challenge I loved.

Despite my fashion design and manufacturing background, I took the job because I wanted to learn about the retail side of my trade, and learn I did!  I travelled to NY Gift Show, LA Gift Show, Surf Expo a couple of times a year to choose new things for the stores.  I also did an amazing handicraft sourcing trip to Haiti with a bunch of other Caribbean buyers.  In our stores we carried everything from hot sauces, fridge magnets, and shot glasses to sarongs and clothing.... West Indies Wear - of course.  I loved having a hands-on chance to work on instore display.

When I left the job to move back home to Australia and have my baby, I was traumatized.  I will never forget how I sobbed when the plane took off, it was the only time in all my 10 years in the Caribbean that I couldn't look out of the window when the plane took off.  I cried all the way to Puerto Rico.  I will never forget the smiles and friendships I made within that team. 

Recently my good friend and the original owner of the company called in to visit one of the team members who had worked there for 40 years, but has recently retired.  She emailed me the next day, "Of course we talked about you" she said, and then this lady pulled out a picture that my 5 year old daughter had colored in and given to her.  She has kept it all these years.  

She sent me these photos....oops that had me crying again.  It sure is nice to think that I might have touched their hearts as much as they touched mine!

Hawaii Sugar Plantation LOVE June 14, 2016 00:49

There is nothing better than preserved island history, and so when we started to ship our collection to Cane Field Clothing on the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai, I just had to find out MORE.  Turns out this gorgeous little boutique is located in the master bedroom of a fully restored 1930's plantation mansion.

In the living room is a lounge bar.  In the study is an art gallery.  In the courtyard of the mansion complete with a stunning view of Mt. Waialeale is an award winning restaurant.  This sounds likes a one stop destination doesn't it !  There is also a tasting room for Koloa Rum Distillery, the only Hawaiian-made rum, which is made right there on the island of Kauai.  Then you can board the beautiful old mahogany train for a ride through 100 acres of lush gardens and bountiful tropical plantation.


I have to say though, that the photo they sent me of the boutique and showing how beautifully they have display my sarongs did excite me terribly !  Such a simple way to display them, all that island color spread out evenly across that bar looks fantastic and the customers LOVE to feel how soft & floaty our pure cotton is.

I think these guys have something for everyone, now all we need is a vacation in Kauai.  I sure would love a splash of island color in my life right now.

Well if you.... like me are about to become very busy traveling for business and doing summer trade shows or whatever it is you do, and an island escape is not quite possible, then we can follow them on Facebook here and on Instagram here #islandsmiles