I am so so excited to finally be able to publish this post I've been working on. I met the ladies of Sugarhigh Lovestoned in Maui six years ago. My dad being the crazy guy he is, asked our waitress at the time Chloe, to help show our family some of the coolest spots on the island. We all squeezed in the rental jeep, grabbed plenty of road beers and headed out on an unforgettable adventure. Along the ride, Chloe told us about her clothing company she and her friend Tami had started. The company turned out to be Sugarhigh Lovestoned, which to this day, is still one of my all time favorites. Tami met all of us out for dinner and I felt truly inspired by these two island babes.
Fast forward six years later, I'm in school studying Fashion Merchandising and Management, and Sugarhigh Lovestoned has really made a name for themselves in the industry. Their clothes are being sold at great stores around the world, including Free People and Dolls Kill. I was lucky enough to get some time to talk with Tami about the company's story and her personal experience as a designer.
Nicole: How and where did your brand start?
Tami: It started when I had two girls that I was doing graphic design work for, come into my "day job" at this bikini boutique on Maui and pull me aside and told me I was wasting my time and talent not trying to get my own thing going. So I did.
N: When did you know you wanted to be in the fashion industry?
T: I never dreamt of being in the fashion industry, it just kind of happened.
N: Who have been your biggest influences/muses?
T: I think the difference between Sugarhigh Lovestoned and other labels is that with my fine-art background paired with surfing the north shore of Maui for the past 16 years, what inspires me is constantly changing. That is one reason the label is built with two names, because even within one year - you can see the two sides of the label (aka my brain) coming out. This past season we did a super- feminine collection with plunging necklines and see thru lace dresses - our summer will be more on the tomboy side of the spectrum. We believe that some girls, (hopefully most girls) don't just have like ALL bohemian pieces in their closet. We hope that one day, they rock knee high boots, a wide brimmed hat and maxi dress, but then the very next day - it's a bed-head and boyfriend jeans kind of a day. Life should dictate your fashion, not the other way around. God, i did not answer your question. For example.... on instagram, I currently follow over 1k people. They range from surfboard shapers and vintage hoarders, to avant-garde upcoming artists and high-fashion houses.
N: Are there any blogs or Instagram accounts you’re constantly checking these days?
T: I'm really trying to get back into blogging, but my go-to is probably Visual Optimism and We Are So Droee, i am currently obsessed with Bona Drag's instagram at the moment, but that changes on the daily...
N: I’ve seen your clothes being sold at Free People, which is amazing! And just recently, saw your Instagram post at Nasty Gal HQ. I can’t wait to see what that turns into! What would you say has been your biggest moment in your company’s career so far?
T: Def. it's been the exposure from the big ecommerce houses like FP and NG, but also with some of our newest small-boutique accounts like Prism Boutique out of Long Beach, these guys have really pushed our brand. Our goal is to find a perfect-fit for a showroom to help spread the brand into more cities across America, and to help us really hone in on our strengths and expand the brand from the inside out.
N: Where would you like to see Sugarhigh Lovestoned go next?
T: I think we are just getting started!!! We have Fall16 in the works, with moldboards for SS17 already taking form - i think we are just going to enjoy the ride....
N: Some of your look books are actually amazing. I am obsessed with the night desert photo shoot with Davis Ayer. What has been your favorite place you’ve gone to shoot?
T: I think our favorite was the look-book we shot entirely on film with an old camera, hand-held pros filters and a vintage detachable finger-trigger. We worked with one of my favorite photographers, the lovely Amanda Leigh Smith in Joshua tree, CA. We met the most amazing characters, ran out of gas, drank whiskey drinks out of mason jars, painted a horse and half of us were buck naked for most of the shoot. So yeah, that one sticks out in my mind :)
N: I’m studying Fashion Merchandising & Management at Philadelphia University. The majority of students at my school are studying fashion merchandising or fashion design. Do you have any advice for young people hoping to break into the fashion industry?
T: I'm kind of the wrong person to ask that question. I do know you will need a vision, a plan and plenty of money. I didn't really have any of those. Haha. Get advice, know your strengths, and team up with those who know the parts you don't. Organize your thoughts, and organize your time. Lay off the diet coke, and try not to take anything personally. If you succeed in the last one, please let know know your secret. :-)
I would like to thank Tami again for helping me with this interview and more importantly, for inspiring me to keep pursing my dreams! Hearing the real stories and motives behind one of my favorite brands has been such a dream for me.
Thanks for reading!
All photos by James Conley