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Meet Ann, our East Coast Gal. August 13, 2017 23:47

When I started WIW my husband & I were sailing around the islands, dropping in at the resorts and visiting the buyers.  It was a slow mode of transport, but slowly it grew.  After a couple of years, I realized a lot of the Caribbean buyers were going to Orlando's Surf Expo to buy for their next season, so I decided to try that.  Then mysteriously, I started to sell to stores in USA... that came as quite a shock to me, as I hadn't expected that.  For many years I had Lauren selling in FL and another company selling up in New England, but we had no stores and no representation in what I called "the middle part of the East Coast".  Ann Jones came to us just last year, and wow what an instant impact.  All of a sudden, our Anchor Hoodies were SOLD OUT.  ha ha Welcome to the team Ann !  Here is the Anchor Hoodie which I ran out of so quickly, because quite honestly I got caught out !

However, this story is about Ann, not the Anchor Hoodie.... it's just that Ann caught me out on that one.  Ann has been in the clothing business right out of college.  She started off with a department store based in NC, and made such an impact there, that she was made Buyer within a year!  She then met her husband Ed, fell in love and got married, which took her off to another Department store based in SC and NC.  Ann was with this company for many years and her last position there was buyer of Designer, Bridge & European Sportswear.... yes she was one of those buyers watching the fashion shows in Paris, London & Milan.  Fashion doesn't get any more glamorous than that !

Ann had 2 lovely baby boys, and she always worked as Buyer as she raised her boys.  She is a momma number one, and most of us mom's can relate to that.  Here she is with one of her babies.

Her boys are now grown up.  Her eldest Chris, graduated from law school (where he went at night while working at a super intense job on Capitol Hill) and he just got married last year.  Here they are on his wedding day.  His younger brother Patrick was his best man.

Patrick, Ann's younger son performed last year on the main stage at the Geary Theater in San Francisco where he played a major part in the play The Christmas Carol.  He has graduated with an MFA in Acting at The American Conservatory Theater, and has now moved to New York.  It sounds like Ann's boys have inherited her work ethic!  Here they are hiking Kauai together just last year before the wedding.  

After all those years as a buyer, a good friend of Ann's was resigning a line and told Ann to call the owner and convince him to hire her.  Ann told her she could not do that, but she was told strictly to do it anyway.  She did, he hired her and the rest is history.  Ann loves what she does, she loves her accounts and I think her buyers really trust her.  After all she did what they do for 36 years.  This stuff is in her DNA.... she could actually sew before she could read !  Ok one more photo of them all in Hawaii together.

Funny that when I asked Ann to send me information for this blog, her information included more about her husband & boys, than herself.

I called Ann from Dallas as I was preparing to fly back home to Australia last month, and she was working hard, packing her samples and preparing for a big show in Atlanta the next week..... but while she was at it, she was doing her son's laundry, as he was in the middle of his move to NYC.  Made me laugh to myself, as it doesn't matter how busy us mom's are or how big our kids get, we always have time to help our kids, and they will always be our babies.  

Family first right.  One Love Ann, so happy to have you in our family x


Meet Angela, our island girl August 10, 2017 21:23

A little over a year ago I was talking to Tessa from Foxy's and told her I needed a sales rep for California, without thinking twice she said "what about Angela?"... I said "Who's Angela?".  Well once you meet this little dynamite you wont forget her in a hurry.

Angela moved to St.John in 2006 with the intention of staying 6 months, and like so many our stories.... that 6 months turned into the better part of her 20's and now her 30's.  Yes once you get that island groove in your blood, its hard to escape.  Angela started off working in at Big Planet St.John, the coolest surf shop on St.John.  Soon she became the buyer and merchandiser, and this lead on to her becoming a sales rep.  Funny how island life shapes your future. Here is a photo of Captain Angela that I love.

While on island time Angela discovered a love for yoga, and surfing.  She is now a trained yoga instructor, and threatens us to get yogic every time we are doing a show together.  I really must take her up on that, as I miss my yoga, but I always feel too exhausted on those mammoth trips to USA.  All this island love also made Angela adventurous.  Here is a photo of her in Cape Town, South Africa.  Table Mountain always spectacular!

And here she is in Simonstown, in Cape Town.  A place I visited too, when I was living in South Africa.

Angela has been with us for a year now, and she adds a whole bunch of FUN and youthful energy to our team.  She is an outstanding sales rep, and she has a great eye for fashion.  She really has inspired me to add some NEW younger styles to the collection.  Here is a photo of her in our SeaStar Kimono that I designed for 2018.  I had trouble getting the sample off her as she loved it so much.

One love island girl Angela, so grateful to have you as a friend and on our team. x

 


Meet Linda, our sailing sales rep for the NE August 08, 2017 07:46

Interestingly enough I didn't know that Linda was a "boat kid" like me, until I asked her for photos and some stories about her life for this blog post..... and Linda has been with us for many years.  

Linda grew up in Connecticut, and spent her summertimes cruising with her family on their small 28 foot sailboat.  Now Linda's family had 4 kids, so anyone who has been on a 28 footer knows how SMALL that would be with 4 kids on board.  My family had 2 kids, a small dog and a budgie on a 25 footer and we thought that was tight !  Linda says "it was tight quarters but lots of fun".  Here is a photo of their family boat under full sail.

Isn't it funny how a boat upbringing can shape your life to come.  As she grew older she began racing sailboats.  When she finished college she went to work for a sailor friend who was building custom racing boats.  From there she managed a marine chandlery store, and this led onto becoming a sales rep for a marine business.  After she met her husband she became a sales rep in the gift, apparel and accessories market.... and this is where she finds herself 20 years later.

Now even though Linda was living a 'normal life' raising her daughter and working very hard, the sea was still very much in her blood and she found ways to go sailing again.  Here is a fantastic photo of Linda helming through the gulf stream waves during an ocean race to Bermuda.  She competed in an "all woman team" to sail in the Marion Bermuda Race.  I can so relate to this photo, she looks tired and a bit chilly, but EXHILARATED at the helm.

I also love this photo of Linda climbing the rigging of the stunning old Auxiliary Schooner BRILLIANT at the Mystic Seaport.  You can click here to read more about this beautiful old wooden vessel.

Once a boat kid, always a boat kid !  I too feel like I am not done boating, and just feel so lucky that while I am at home raising my kids, I have found a way to connect with sailing and the islands through fashion.  A strange combination but it works.  Now, I just need to find a way to teach my kids to sail too!

Love having you on our team Linda - thanks for all inspiration x


How lucky am i ! July 26, 2017 09:35

It's safe to say that I love my job, and I am very grateful that I live this kinda "double life".  Most of the year I am at home in a small town in Australia with my kids (and husband Justin), packing school lunches, driving them to swimming lessons and 13 dances classes a week.  Here is a photo of my 4 year old son in his batman swimmers, smiling and waving underwater while his teacher treads water behind him.

Like most of us mom's my kids are my life, and although there are LOTS of crazy moments, I love that I can be at home with them.  While I am doing all this "MOM stuff" I find a few hours a day to sneak away from the chaos, go upstairs to my cute little studio and put together a collection of clothing and sarongs for "island life".  I send weird little photos of myself (like this one below) to my team, when I get excited about the samples that arrive on my doorstep.  How cute is our "Aloha Tank Top" on the new 2018 collection.  I can't wait to wear it.

A couple of times of year, I pack the samples into 2 big luggage bags, type up a mammoth schedule for the kids, so that Justin, my mom, and my mother-in-law can keep the household running while I am away, and I embark on a 30 hour journey to Florida.  Here I am, ready to board a little Dash-8 in my small town, to fly to Sydney.

Here is the photo I took as the plane took off.... looking over towards the quiet little valley where my little stone cottage is.

Here is a photo of the view as I flew over STUNNING Sydney Harbour... who would know its midwinter!

15 hours after take off in Sydney, I landed in Dallas.  30 hours after leaving home, I was is West Palm Beach FL.  Standing at the baggage claim at midnight, I sent this photo to my family to let them know I had arrived safe in Florida.

 

But that was just the beginning.  I had 6 hours sleep and then drove over to Palm City FL to pack the van with Lauren and drive 2 hours to Miami.  Thank goodness Lauren did the driving !!  Here is a photo of the van all packed up.

Here I am up the ladder hanging the backdrop for our booth.  We always have a beach shot, so that people feel like they are on our island.

We had a great show, and Miami Swim Show is one of the most sophisticated shows I have been to.  Such a nice vibe.  Here is a photo of all of us with Tessa and Shanda from Foxy's in the British Virgin Islands.  So from the left, its me, Tessa, Angela (our adorable Caribbean sales rep), Shanda and Lauren.  I don't know why it is alway me that looks silly.... lets blame that on the jet lag

So the show is now over and I got a day in the warehouse.  I am flying home via Hawaii.... WOOHOO can't wait to share those photos with you all !  I will leave you with another little sneak peek of something coming in December, this is our cute AT ANCHOR BEACH BAG in navy blue.  Yes please !

One love island friends xx


Meet Bonnie, our Hawaii island girl July 14, 2017 19:16 1 Comment

A few years back I tried my first trade show in Las Vegas, and my flights to Vegas from Sydney sent me to Hawaii - wow that was a tough gig.  This was the beginning of a whole new "island world for me".  I had spent 10 years in the Caribbean, and I knew those islands well, but Hawaii is a lot new world of ALOHA.  I was pretty sure we belonged here too.  I couldn't decide which was my favorite photo to show next, so here are 4 photos !!!

 

The Vegas show was fun and we had quite a few customers from Hawaii visit the booth and love the line.  This was all turning into "HelloHawaii" moment in my mind.  I sat in my room one night googling Hawaii sales reps, and found a listing of sales reps in Hawaii.  I scrolled through the list, looking for the perfect island girl, she had to have similar lines but nothing too conflicting.  I emailed Bonnie Bowles and she replied the next day.  After the show I changed my flights to stay a few nights in Hawaii and got to meet Bonnie.  I loved her immediately.... she is my kinda island girl.  

Bonnie went to Hawaii 38 years ago for a vacation, she loved it so much she got a teaching job so that she could stay.  Her next adventure was to start a catering business for fun.  You see, who does that?  Start a business for fun ???  She is obviously a go-getter.  Some good friends introduced Bonnie to a guy who was a sales rep in Maui, and needed help moving back to Oahu, Bonnie's 'get things done personality' made her a perfect fit.  They became business partners and worked together for 7 years, but eventually went their own way as Bonnie was interested in selling apparel and he wanted to concentrate on accessories.  

Bonnie went on to marry one of her buyers Doug, and these days they split their time between their 2 homes - Hawaii in the winter months, and Washington State in the summer months.  Isn't that a perfect arrangement, escape the summer humidity of Hawaii and the winter chills of Washington. Here is Bonnie and Doug enjoying their annual vacay in an old beach cottage on the North Shore.

My favorite photo of Bonnie has to be this one of her floating in the most dreamy water ever off the coast of Italy..... a long way from Hawaii yes, but still our kinda color !

That was over 2 years ago now, and Bonnie is an awesome friend and colleague.  I love having her enthusiasm and honesty on the team... and thanks to Bonnie, when you next get a chance to visit Hawaii, you are sure to find some West Indies Wear in a hotel gift shop or cute little beach boutique near you.  One Love Bonnie x


Caribbean island influences June 21, 2017 20:24

At the age of 29 I had quit my high paying, high stress, glamorous job as Head Designer at Billabong South Africa to go sailing to the Caribbean.  Here I am in the messy chaotic design room at Billabong SA.

My boyfriend (now my husband) and I had done navigation courses, and sailing courses with a tough old merchant sailor in South Africa.  He was in the business of training men to be commercial fishermen on the South African Coast.  I was only the 2nd woman to do his courses, and he was not very forgiving…. well the South African coastline (known as the Cape of Storms) is not very forgiving either. It sure was a steep learning curve.

The day I had my final exam the wind was blowing 30 knots and I had to take the examiners boat out to sea, and perform tricky “man overboard” manoeuvres in the gale force winds.  I passed the exam, earnt the respect of the instructor and a year later we set sail for tropical island paradise.

Arriving in the Caribbean after months at sea was like putting your senses into overdrive - the earthy smells of the tropics, the bright colors of the Caribbean, the booming sounds of reggae.  Its not unlike that when you fly into a Caribbean island either.  Totally different world  to the JFK snow storm you might have flown out in.  For me the highlight of flying from North America to the Caribbean was always flying over the shallow waters of the Bahamas.  It is so stunning, with a million different shades of blue.  For a “blue addict” like me it is heaven.

If you google "flying over the Bahamas" and look at google images, this is what you get.  WOW.

 

Recently I received an email from a 91 year old lady named Lila, who is a dedicated West Indies Wear customer - I just have to share this beautiful paragraph with you ....

"I went to the Virgin Islands when I was in my early twenties and fell in love with it.  As the plane took me back to the mainland, I looked out the plane window and saw all those houses built on the side of the mountain facing the ocean.  I promised myself I would go back and build a house too, but never did.  I used to live in a penthouse in New York City at the edge of the Hudson where from my terrace on the 19th floor,  I could have seen Sully land his plane.  After my years in New York (I’m a born and bred native) I moved to a beautiful house in La Jolla, California.  Not bad either.  So I’ve always lived near the ocean and its magic.  Now I’m land-bound, almost an hour away from the ocean.  I’m 91 years old, and still looking at and loving your designs."

Isn't it amazing that the memory of flying out of St.Thomas 70 years ago has stayed with her for life.  My years in the Caribbean have heavily influenced my life too, 6 years after moving back home to Australia, I am still designing Caribbean inspired clothing, and everything about my house reflects the colors of the Caribbean.

One love island friends.

K x


Meet Lauren, my Wonder Woman June 09, 2017 00:05

Lauren and her husband Steve had sailed extensively through the Caribbean islands in their early married life.  In fact they bought their first newborn baby Carley home to the boat in St.Lucia when she was only 2 weeks old.  Here is a photo of Lauren passing their tiny baby up to Steve on the bow of their boat.... can you even imagine what she said to him as she handed over such precious cargo?

Lauren has so many amazing sailing photos of her young family, its hard to decide which ones to share, but I do love this one of her with baby Carley and a lobster that is bigger than the baby.

I will never forget my first phone call from St.Maarten to Lauren in Florida, back in 2008.  I guess it was supposed to be an interview, but we had so much in common, that when I hung up I felt more as though I had an instant friend.

Our first Surf Expo together was in a tiny 10x10  booth, we were so busy, we were trying to show the line to several buyers at once, we were always trying to get our hands on the same samples at the same time, at times we had a crowd of buyers blocking the aisles, and we ran out of line sheets!  It was so exciting.

Lauren has been with me for 10 years now and not just as a Sales Manager and an amazing friend, but also always there to go above and beyond for West Indies Wear.  When we first started selling into USA, I had to move the inventory from my spare room in St.Maarten, Caribbean, up to Florida.  We got started with a warehouse company who was used to shipping medical supplies, not fashion.  There were SO MANY mistakes that season, that it was nearly a disastrous end for West Indies Wear.... so what does Lauren do?  She finds a little warehouse space in her little town and organizes everything to move us down there, where she can keep a closer eye on things.

Then there was the season that the BULK shipment was due to arrive at 11am, and as she is on her way to the warehouse to receive the goods, she discovers that there is a gas leak in the neighborhood and the whole warehouse area is in lock-down..... so what does Lauren do?  She has the truck make the delivery into her own garage and then has to move it one by one over to the warehouse over the coming months.  Here is a cute photo of her dog ScooterBoy wagging his tail at the boxes.

Lauren has a wonderful close family and they have always been there to help at any time.  Here is her husband Steve setting up the booth for a Trendz show on his day off.

And here is Lauren with her son Jack, who while at school in Orlando, was recruited every Surf Expo to help us all build and then pack up the booth.

Look at how cute they all are back on the boat in the Bahamas.... Steve, gorgeous Carley, Jack, Lauren and Scooter Boy.

Now I have never been much of a dress girl, always a jeans / shorts / skirt / tunic / sarong kinda girl.  For many years Lauren had been pushing me for dresses, and year after year Lauren got Tunics and Tee's.  For 2017 however, I finally got my act together when my retailers starting asking for dresses too.  It was a challenge to be able to make a dress that Lauren would be happy to call her "house dress".  Now when I snoop through her Facebook page, and see her photos of all her different family occasions, it makes me VERY happy to see her (below) with her wonderful parents & sister, wearing our St.Barths Dress in Mint.

And here in the Bahamas celebrating her birthday with friends in our Aquarium Dress.... her new favorite dress.

Lauren is full of fun & laughter.  Always the life of the party, always thinking ahead, always the organizer (which this airy fairy designer needs).  Thanks for everything Lauren xx

 


Meet Lulu, my first Sales Rep.... May 31, 2017 23:39

I was exhibiting at my first ever trade show in St.Kitts back in 2006 when Lulu Emery visited the booth.  Lulu represented various gift lines in the Virgin Islands and LOVED my pure cotton sarongs, (something not easily found in the Caribbean) and that was the beginning of a long term friendship.  My first sales rep is still with me after 11 years.  Here we are together in St.Thomas back in 2006.

In November 1982 (hmm back when I was in Junior school) Lulu in her youthful search for adventure, left her comfortable Stateside life (she is a California girl) and set sail on a small boat with 3 other people from Fort Lauderdale to St.Thomas, she spent the next 6 months sailing around the Caribbean islands, but came back to St.Thomas to live.  Here she is on Magens Bay back in the 90's.

Having made the decision to call St.Thomas home, Lulu made it her personal goal that she would travel somewhere new and exotic every summer.  Escaping the heat, humidity & hurricanes of the islands in the summer is a great idea, but wow, you should see the list of countries she has traveled to.  Her favorite country is Italy and she has visited there 12 times.  Here she is in Florence.

I had no idea Lulu was such a daredevil. Aside from her sailing adventures she has done hot air ballooning, zip lining, sky diving and many adventures around the islands on small private charter planes.  Here she is hanging out on the beach at Magens Bay again last month in our Marine Dress.

And here is a photo of the view from Lulu's apartment.... is it really any wonder why she hasn't left.... with a view like that.


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 23:11

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 1 Comment

 

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 

#onelove


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.