Maui Thing opened up on Market Street in Wailuku four years ago as a clothing store “stuck on good.” They were determined to create designs that appealed to a local aesthetic. After celebrating four years this July, their resolve remains unwavering that art is at the heart of the this apparel firm. Their looks are inspired by nature and culture and, lately, iconic architecture.
We caught up with MauiThing Marketing Director Ashley Takitani to get the scoop on their recent summer launch and growing up in Wailuku:
MAUITIME: How does it feel to be another year older? Another year wiser?
ASHLEY TAKITANI: Four wonderful years on Market Street in Wailuku! Cheeeee! Our bash featured Willie K live, a summer fashion show and almost 5,000 people on Market Street!
MAUITIME: What are some key pieces in Mauithing’s Summer 2012 collection?
AT: Our new summer collection was unveiled at our four-year anniversary at July’s First Friday. It was inspired by bright colors, vibrant color blocking and our deep love and appreciation for Maui. We created new pieces such as “Maui Pride” and “I heart Maui” (with a Kalo leaf as a heart).
MT: MauiThing has been an integral part of the Wailuku First Friday success. Why is MauiThing so involved in First Friday? What kind of events are MauiThing doing at First Friday?
AT: I can’t emphasize enough how much impact First Friday has on our business. In one night, we can open for at least three extra hours, increasing our bottom line. We saw the potential in First Friday when it first started and did everything we could to draw more and more people to the event. We starting bringing live music to the street and in the past four years have had talented artists such as Willie K and Ekolu. Since the beginning, we’ve been a part of the First Friday committee and have been able to grow the event by closing the roads for safety, increasing the number of vendors and have been able to create a fabulous community event for Maui families.
MT: Do you have other MauiThing events through the month?
AT: Every month we have Second Saturday Art (second Saturdays of the month, 10am-12pm). Just a fun activity for kids to do on a Saturday morning. Every month we have different art projects based on the holidays or time of year. We also always have mural painting and clay fun!
MT: How often does Mauithing change designs and launch collections?
AT: All the time! In hopes to keep our many return customers happy, we consistently bring in a few pieces every couple weeks to keep the store fresh. Summer and holiday lines are the biggest collections that we design.
MT: Kids seem really drawn to MauiThing tees and designs. Why is this?
AT: Probably because we have a big bin of toys in our kid section for them to play with! But seriously–at Maui Thing, we’re one big family. We wouldn’t be able to sustain without our wonderful friends and family that have dedicated so much time and effort into this business. We value every part of our huge Maui family, even the kids!
MT: Why is art important and part of MauiThing?
AT: Creativity keeps things fresh. Art is an integral part of our lives so we love to share it with the community. We’re all about showcasing local art on our walls, doing collaborative tees with new artists and teaching art to our keiki.
MT: Why does MauiThing value the community interacting over art?
AT: Because it has the ability to make people smile.
MT: Did I see a collaboration with MT and neighboring Wailuku tattoo shop Pride Ink?
AT: Yup! Our even at July’s First Friday was an anniversary celebration for Maui Thing and Pride Ink–hence the event being named “Maui Pride.” Boze Kapoi at Pride Ink is a great friend of ours and an amazing artist so we always have fun working with them.
MT: How easy or difficult is it to create collaborations with other artists and business owners?
AT: We love collaborations! On Maui, its all about community, ohana and working together. We see the benefit with partnering with other companies around the island, even around the state… and do so as much as possible! We have a few co-branded shirts that we’ve done with Pride Ink that we sell in our store and have recently done a great collaboration with Nick Kuchar, owner and designer of Everything is Jake (great retro Hawaii prints).
MT: Does your mens wear line launch new looks as often as the women’s?
AT: No, majority of our revenue comes from the women’s line. The women’s sell out quickly, so we’re constantly having to bring in new items. But for every line that comes out, you can be sure to find at least a few new men’s items.
MT: What drives the men’s wear looks?
AT: Men’s, women’s and kid’s designs are inspired by good things on Maui. We really try to emphasize Maui’s special characteristics on the men’s tees. For instance, we just came out with a “Mango Pickahs” t-shirt since it’s mango season and every Maui guy can remember picking mangoes from their grandma’s mango tree in the backyard.
MT: What fabrics and cuts are sizzling the store for summer?
AT: We’re all about being cute and comfy! Our fabrics are always soft and flow-ey, our designs fresh–one of those pieces that you need in two colors because you want to wear it everyday. We’ve also really been into tops with cute/unique cuts that focus on the back of the shirt. Cute backs are in.
MT: What are some of the new things MauiThing is identifying with these days?
AT: We’re really focusing on highlighting Maui towns and their unique landmarks. For instance, we’ve done a Wailuku bridge t-shirt, as well as a Haiku Surfboard Fence tee and tank.
MT: So what does “MauiThing” mean anyway?
AT: At Maui Thing, we are “Stuck on Good,” meaning we’re inspired by good things on Maui: “Maui Things.” This island is beautifully unique, one-of-a-kind and this is what drives our company and allows us to stay motivated and excited about our designs. The Wailuku Bridge, Hana, Sam Sato’s, Guri Guri: all are “Maui Things” that we love!