I recently moved to Anglesea, a little coastal town on the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, Australia. And I think this new coastal lifestyle thing is pretty damn radical. I could get used to surfing after work every day, most definitely.
The thought of living in Honolulu, Hawaii boggles my mind. How amazing would that be?? Jess, the creator of Wonderland Honolulu, has been doing just that – living the dream! No wonder her label conveys fun.
What was the motivation for starting Wonderland Honolulu and when did you first start selling?
I started about a year and a half ago customizing vintage denim and it really took off. I guess it was right at the beginning of that trend and it went nuts in Hawaii. At first it was just friends, but after I opened an Etsy shop, stores from all over started contacting me about carrying them. After that, I started making simple tops to merch with them …. then dresses, then all out cut & sew! I went to school for it, so I had the background, just not the drive until recently.
What’s the inspiration behind this collection?
Every collection is obviously inspired by life at the beach. I grew up off the island in a super gritty city, so being able to wear everything day to night/beach to street is important to me. I guess it’s considered resort wear, but Wonderland is definitely more urban, and a little younger than most brands. I travel a lot and see a lot of different cultures. I’m inspired by everything and like to incorporate a little piece of those places when I check out somewhere new.
I actually just signed a lease in Los Angeles so I can really devote time to making Wonderland run smoothly. It was hard to set up production and shipping from Hawaii, and I was in LA almost every month. Life in Honolulu is pretty cool though, it’s a lot like LA, where you get the best of everything – they’re both still cities with great shopping, food, and nightlife, and most people are just on the daily grind.
But you can easily escape to the water (I try to get wet once a day) or a hike in the hills. It is like a dream when you want it to be. The pieces I make are what you wear when you are in that mode – in Wonderland.
If you surf, can you tell me what it’s like to surf in Honolulu and what boards your ride?
Honolulu is THE BEST place to surf in my opinion. The North Shore gets a ton of hype, and for obvious reasons. But for a casual (non-professional) surfer, the south shore offers endless fun all year around. My home break is Bowls and it is one of the best waves I’ve ever surfed. The crowds can get heavy but in general it’s pretty friendly, especially if you treat others and the ocean with respect.
I ride all kinds of boards, but my favorites are my standard shortboards from HIC. Eric Arakawa shapes all of my boards and is super in touch with the wave, so he knows what to make. I longboard occasionally, and when I do, I ride the $100 foam board from Costco. It is SO fun.
Just to keep up? It’s a real challenge to start from nothing, with no investors and to produce for an entire resortwear world. I’m working on it. But overall, I just want to be able to satisfy my creative drive. I’m not driven by numbers, I just want to have the ideas in my head be manifested into physical pieces. And to share them and have girls enjoy them and feel good.
What beach would you take us to and where would we go to have a beer and a bite?
I don’t drink but a cold coconut tastes great at Sunset Beach on the North Shore. It’s a lake in the summer, but the beach is really wide and rarely crowded. There’s a little inside break on the reef that’s super fun when the waves are breaking and it’s fun to watch the point when it’s huge. There’s no losing at Sunset. It feels like Hawaii. There’s a bunch of little food trucks that serve fresh fish and island style plate lunches around too. Oh, and Ted’s. Slam dunk plate lunches/sandwiches and haupia pie.
Of course I love the pom pom shorts. They never go away because they are so fun and there’s always new prints to play around with. I also really like the kimonos because they’re versatile. They can easily go from beach coverup to a going-out cardi over a cute dress at night. It’s almost like an accessory – you can throw it on over a pair of denim cutoffs and a basic tank and it takes the outfit from super casual to dinner-acceptable in 2 seconds.
Finally, what gets you out of bed every morning and makes you go “Hell, yeah! Life is rad!!”?
Sunshine (I get up before the sun comes up though!), coffee, clothes, music, blogs, and any type of physical activity. Basically good clean fun. Feel good stuff.
The lovely Jess is offering a 15% discount to Salt Gypsy peeps – just enter SUMMER2013 at the check-out.
Interview by Gill – www.notwithoutmydorag.blogspot.com
Photos by Wonderland Honolulu, one lovely model is Katrina Brodsky, while Goldfishkiss blogger, Rebekah Steen, rocks out the pom pom shorts.