Month of crazy May 05, 2017 22:54 1 Comment
OH BOY .... what just happened ??? Last month got a little crazy.
I am sorry if any of you found my customer service to be a little slow, all of a sudden things exploded - boutiques were madly re-ordering and we were suddenly selling out of things! Happy chaos. I am guessing spring has sprung in the USA!!
You may think we are this big bustling corporate fashion house, but actually that couldn't be further from the truth ! Our team is teeny tiny... there is no receptionist wearing one of those headsets, there is no "design team", there is no "production team". I don't even have a PA, but I sure do need one.... I think I need 4 actually !
Ok so now you know I live in Australia... and I know you Americans call that "Down Under" and it really is down under. It's SO FAR AWAY, it takes me 24 ++ hours to fly to Florida. It's winter here when its summer there and every day I wake up at about 3pm EST your time. I open my eyes, pick up my phone and scan through the emails to see if there is anything needed URGENTLY before the close of business USA East Coast.
I get up, pack lunches, feed a bunch of hungry creatures (kids, cat, dog & myself) get my kids off to school and then come upstairs to my studio office, that my husband built for me. Here I am at my desk.... it's always messy, because the airy-fairy creative designer in me is just MESSY.... ask my mum, I was messy at 15 and I still am at 45.
By this time of my day, I am having my morning cup of tea, while my USA customers and island friends are all sipping your 'after work cocktails". I have 6 different time zones programmed into my phone, so that I can try to figure out who is doing what - between me in Australia, customers from Maine to Hawaii, and my amazing factories in India and China, who patiently turn my crazy ideas into pure cotton bliss.
Aside from me, there is Lauren Buchanan, my AWESOME right hand lady. Lauren lives in Florida. She is National Sales Manager, Warehouse Manager & Miracle Worker. She builds booths at trade shows, takes your orders at trade shows, she keeps the warehouse amazing, she packs your orders, she collects the mail, banks the checks, fixes problems and is just basically my SUPER HERO. Here she is at Surf Expo with her son Jack (who also ALWAYS jumps in to be our super hero at a moments notice - like when 200 cartons arrive at once). Lauren has a new warehouse assistant just started, her name is Jodi, and I am looking forward to meeting her on my next visit to Florida in July.
Then my little sister Cristi, she is in Australia with me. She lives just down the road, and comes into my office a few times a week. She tries to tame my crazy "designer" accounting system, luckily she is the organized sister ! Thank goodness ! Here she is on vacation in stunning Vanuatu.
Then there is my much younger baby sister AMY. Well you all know Amy, right? In recent years, she has become the "face" of West Indies Wear. She has featured in all our photoshoots, she has been in Vogue & Coastal Living magazine. These days she has also moved "off-island" and is living in Oregon, where she is still involved, she is doing all the social media for me now... in between taking care of a new husband and her 4 dogs.... her babies. She is a crazy dog lady ! Here she is on island time.
Here she is dreaming of island sunshine in the Oregon snow.... with her dog Aussie.
The one other person I call on for help, is Sally Deacon. Sally also lives in Australia and is also a designer. Each season for the last 10 years, Sally has turned my scribble sketches and bad handwriting into a computer generated sketch and worksheet, with all the style requirements (labelling, hang tags, embroideries, print information) making it easy to understand for the factories. Here is an example of her work - when she drew up the now sold out SHELL TEE for me last year.
Here is a photo of Sally and her gorgeous blonde surfer boys last summer.
So that's it, our super small family clothing company. As you can see we are not quite yet at the fancy schmancy glass office design-room stage, (ala "The Devil Wears Prada"). We are just a bunch of "island girls" spread out all over the world, doing our best.
Next blog post I would like to introduce you to our sales reps, they are the ones you see or speak to regularly and do a great job showing the line all over USA, they are not always forthcoming with photos of themselves though, so lets see how I go!
Top 10 things about Living in St.Lucia April 23, 2017 00:01
Guest blog post from Clara Wiggins, author of the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide...
When I was asked by Kim to write about out time living in St Lucia, I have to admit that at first, I was hesitant. I have written about the island before, quite a few times. But most of what I have written has tended to fall on the, should I say, negative side: not because there is anything wrong with St Lucia itself but because as a parent of two small children I found it a very tough place to live.
Then I gave it some thought. Actually while I have focused on the down side of island-life I have forgotten or ignored the fact that there was, of course, an upside. You might get used to the beautiful views and constant access to the Caribbean Sea but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. And actually living as I do now in a city a long, long way from the coast (Pretoria in South Africa), I could really do with getting under the warm sea a little more often.
Yes sometimes I don’t want to admit it but there is a lot about St Lucia that I miss. So, now that I have the reason to do so, here are my top ten things about living on the island:
1 – The Views
Round every corner another stunner. The Pitons (pictured) are of course the island’s most famous landmark. But there was plenty other sights to feast your eyes on from stunning beaches to lush forests.
2 – The Sea
Of course it’s hard to go anywhere on an island as small as St Lucia (just 27 miles long and 14 miles wide) without seeing the sea. I have loved water ever since I was a small child and learned to snorkel while living in the Philippines. Then when I was 30 I learned to dive – and haven’t looked back. I managed to dive a few times in St Lucia while the children were in school, but we also spent a fair amount of time swimming, paddling, and snorkelling in the beautiful, clear, warm Caribbean. Unfortunately my eldest daughter hated the sea or the beach – which has been the subject of some of my more negative stories about St Lucia!
3 – The outdoors life
Coming as we do from an island like England with very unpredictable weather patterns and a lot of rain, being able to be outside so much was a real bonus. Although the island was a little too humid for comfort, it was really nice to feel the sun on your back on a daily basis. And to be able to plan outdoors activities every weekend.
4 – Coconut Bay
When you live somewhere as small as St Lucia, it’s not just important but vital that you find somewhere to run away to every so often. Given that the area we lived, worked and played in was so tiny, and that leaving the island was so expensive, the best option was an All Inclusive hotel in the far south of the island called Coconut Bay. It was still only about 25 miles from where we lived but the roads weren’t great, so it took a couple of hours to get there. Thus, it felt like a proper trip away. And once we were there we could blend in with the tourists and pretend we were on holiday. The free-flowing cocktails had absolutely nothing to do with the reason why we loved it so much, oh no, nothing at all….
5 – Proximity to Florida
Going to Coconut Bay was relatively easy compared to the other place we went to when we really wanted to get away from it all – which was Florida. Nevertheless, we still managed to go there three times while we lived in St Lucia and loved every minute. It helped that my brother-in-law lives near Miami so we had a good reason to go, but we would have visited anyway with our kids the age they were. I don’t know if they realise how lucky they were to get to experience the theme parks in the low season when they weren’t too busy – but for me, the coast and beaches were even more special.
6 - Swimming
We were extremely lucky to have swimming pools in the gardens of both the houses we lived in on the island and so my children were in the water pretty much every day from the start. They also had swimming lessons and so began a lifelong love for the sport. They are both still swimming and also now competing – I hope it is something they both carry on with as it is not only an excellent sport for health and fitness but also a good way to meet people out of the usual school “cliques”.
7 – The school
When we first arrived in St Lucia we visited the local school where most of the expats sent their kids. We were slightly confused, where were the toys (bearing in mind our children were still pre-school age)? Why were they using little mats on the floor to do things with beads and bricks? What was all this about using knives, unsupervised? It was, of course, a Montessori school – something totally new to us. But it was also the only recommended school for children the ages that ours were, so we went with it.... and I am glad that we did. It took a little getting used to (there were a few unusual St Lucian customs alongside the usual Montessori oddness…), but in the end it gave my children an excellent start to their school lives. Like the daily swimming, we are still seeing the benefits today.
8 - The people
I have to be honest here – St Lucians were not the friendliest people in the world. However, there are always exceptions and we definitely met some interesting people and made some good connections. But what I really appreciated was the chance for my children to mix with so many different cultures – they had friends from all over the world and also from St Lucia itself.
9 – The sunsets
I will let the photo speak for itself on this one. Needless to say, we had scenes like this almost nightly from our balcony.
10 – Diving
I first learned to dive waaaay back in my late twenties when I was travelling in New Zealand. I had many a dive holiday after that and carried on when I lived in Jamaica, until I had to stop due to pregnancy. So to be able to take it up again when we moved to St Lucia was wonderful – even if it did mean I had to fit the dives in around the children’s school hours. The diving in St Lucia certainly isn’t the best in the world but it is good enough for someone who hadn’t dived for a few years. And just to be under the sea is always special…
So there you have it – my top ten things about living on an island, which I thought I didn’t like! Writing this list was actually quite hard. I have focused so much on the negatives of our experience in St Lucia that it is a while since I thought about the good things. But in the end there was plenty that made us happy and in fact there were many things that didn’t make the list like: the people who came to visit us (getting people to come to the Caribbean was actually quite easy!), the lime tree in our garden, the cocktails, the resorts we visited at the weekends, the snorkelling…
Would I go back though? For a holiday, certainly. To live? No, probably not. As beautiful as St Lucia is, it was just a little too tiny for me. Some people just aren’t cut out for small island living. I think I am one of them.
Clara Wiggins is a British writer and author of the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide. Her writing mostly focuses on expat life, parenting, families and travel. She currently lives in South Africa with her husband and two daughters – where, due to the vastness of the country, they are a lot happier than when they were in St Lucia.
For more on St.Lucia, click here to check out this travel guide from the UK's Telegraph.
Living the island dream..... a Southern Caribbean success story! March 30, 2017 21:23
30 years ago an adventurous British man, Russ Fielden was sailing in Baja California, Mexico and met his Mexican born future wife, Magdalena. They worked together for many years for the Moorings Charter boat company, and opened up many new Moorings operations in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. Already their life sounds glamorous doesn't it !
Eventually they married and had 2 adorable little girls, both of who are now in their 20's. Once they had children they decided it was time for a bit more stability, so they started to look for a business to buy in the Caribbean. The 2 islands they decided were "right" for them to move to, were either Tortola in the British Virgin Islands (north east Caribbean) or Grenada, which is also a British island, but down in the Southern Caribbean.
They had all their island friends keeping an eye open for opportunities and got a call one day to say that there was a plantation for sale in Grenada. Russ flew to Grenada to have a look, and while he was there had lunch at the restaurant at True Blue Inn, where he found out this tiny 7 room hotel with a small restaurant with was actually in receivership. Magdalena flew down, and clearly remembers standing on the small pier early in the morning, looking up at that beautiful hillside location and the stunning blue bay. WOW how amazing to have the opportunity to own such an incredibly stunning place ! She was hooked!
Have you ever had a dream that seemed so incredibly amazing you find it hard to believe it could actually come true? How inspiring that once the seed of that dream is planted, everything that happens thereafter actually makes it come true. Our sailing to the Caribbean was a dream just like that. Look at their DREAM swimming pool now.
Russ & Magdalena have been hard working owners of True Blue Bay Boutique Resort for 18 years now. They have grown this tiny Caribbean inn, into a stunning 47 room boutique resort. There are villas, suites & rooms to choose from, plus a 20 yacht marina, a popular waterfront restaurant seating 150 people, a dockside bar, a yoga studio, scuba diving centre, 2 swimming pools, 2 playgrounds and the most adorable little island boutique. That's quite an achievement! How is this for a yoga location....
I just love that after all these years in Grenada, they like to empower the local community by supporting education and culture, organizing regular craft bazaars, inviting the local artisans, organizing the annual Grenada Chocolate Festival and supporting local schools and the Grenada Community Library. They are also great believers in operating sustainable & environmentally friendly operations, and in 2016 they were named as one of the Top 3 most sustainable hotels in the Caribbean. Can you believe they actually recycle over 60% of their hotel waste.
If there is one thing I love most about the Caribbean its the COLORS - I just LOVE the colors they have painted their resort buildings. Here is our Plumeria Sarong on display outside the True Blue Boutique.
Magdalena says.... "In the boutiques I try to find a good variety of island wares for both tourists and local shoppers. West Indies Resort Wear is a perfect match. It has been lovely to conduct business with Kim for a long time now, over 10 years on and off. I remember the first time Kim arrived on her sailboat to visit us in Grenada and we sat down in my office so she could show me her lovely collection. Our guests and locals love the soft cottons and happy designs, perfect for our Caribbean weather. We often see WIW clothing worn at our yoga sessions."
How nice is that, I remember that exact visit also, in fact Magdalena was one of my very first customers. Thanks to buyers like Magdalena who believed in me in those early days, and gave me the confidence to keep going. Here is a photo of my daughter playing peek-boo in the playground cubby house at True Blue, while I was in the office with Magdalena. She loved that there was a playground, as there was not a lot of facilities for kids when we were sailing around the Caribbean, so her life was all boring beach toys and boating.
Visit the True Blue Boutique Resort website here or you can also find them on Facebook here. Better yet, visit the "real deal" down in Grenada, it is definitely one of the most adorable resorts I visited in the Caribbean.
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.
HERE IS THE LISTING OF THE TOP 10 STYLES FOR 2017.
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 23:11Johanna 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Pure Cotton Miracle July 25, 2016 23:08
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