Joe Wilmot and Jody Curtin, Co-Owners
4057 L. Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina. 808-669-6068
1913 S. Kihei Rd, Kihei. 808-879-3453
23 Baldwin Ave, Paia. 808-579-9131
How many years experience in the industry?
How did you get your start in the Fashion Design and retail industry? When was this? Did you have any formal training?
We just opened Mahina; no fashion-specific training or professional experience. We’re both fans of design and aesthetics in general.
How did you manage to launch your own fashion line/open your own store?
It sounds so unromantic, but it was purely a business decision. We noticed that though clothes shopping was plentiful on Maui, it really boiled down to surfwear, cheap stuff, or the mall on the one hand and high-end boutiques on the other. We just had an inspiration: Why not open a clothing store that offers affordable-yet-cute stuff that might meet the needs of locals? We’d been doing the same with our Lotus Moon store in Paia, which sold more affordable silver jewelry. Both of us (Jody and Joe) already had business experience so it wasn’t like starting from zero. We just drove down to a beach on the south side with a notepad and planned everything. A month later Mahina was born.
We opened Mahina in Paia in June of 2006. We have stores in Paia, Kihei and Lahaina on Maui and in Waikiki and Kailua on Oahu. Oh, and a newish online store at www.shopmahina.com.
What is your philosophy of design?
We love simplicity and functionality. We don’t design our stuff, but what we buy is what we love. Jody is our buyer and she seeks out styles that are current and beautiful, but she shops in person so that means she also gets to feel every piece. Feel is important. We aren’t concerned with trends as much as we are with style. Style is timeless.
Where do you draw your style inspiration from? Who is your favorite style icon?
We don’t really have icons per se. We’re constantly on the lookout to see what women are wearing out in the streets. We divide our time between Maui and Los Angeles and that gives us an opportunity to see what women wear in different places.
What are your top 5 hot trends for the upcoming Summer and Fall seasons?
We don’t really think about trends at all. We don’t buy seasons ahead so we never need to anticipate trends. What we buy at the showrooms today will hit the stores within days. If stuff doesn’t sell, we buy different kinds. If it does sell, we try and find similar styles. But we also try to stop buying trends when we feel like they’re getting stale and overexposed.
What is your signature style?
Fun, flirty and breezy.
Tell me about your collection. What makes Mahina stand out from the crowd?
What we do is buy a lot of different styles, each in small quantities. That means that all of the Mahina stores get new merchandise out on the floors daily (as soon as stuff sells out, we bring out the new stuff). We stand out because our stores are always chock-full-of cute stuff.
What shapes and styles are found in your clothing designs?
Exclusively young contemporary.
Please tell me about the textiles you use in your designs. Any specific fabrics and colors that you love to work with?
A personal favorite is modal. It’s just so soft and delicious.
What clothing/accessory lines do you carry in your store?
Too many to mention!
If we took a peek in your closet, what would we see? What is your ‘can’t live without’ item?
If you saw Jody’s closet you’d see pretty much nothing but Mahina stuff. Maybe a pair of Mother’s Jeans, which she loves.
What is the staple clothing item or accessory every woman on Maui should be sure to have?
It would for sure be our jersey skirts that also double as a tube dress.
Tell me your top 5 styling tips.
Better than 5, the #1 advice we can give is think about fit before anything else. It really is everything. Even though Mahina stuff isn’t as fancy as a designer dress, an alteration can take a so-so dress and turn it into something amazing. Or just wait for something with a better fit as we get new stuff so often.
Biggest fashion no-nos?
Fun question. Our biggest pet peeves are: Wearing running shoes with dresses, harem pants, sublimation prints (those designs where it looks like the fabric got folded and then dyed), Ed Hardy anything.