INTERVIEW WITH MAILE TAYLOR - FOUNDER/OWNER OF SALT + SEA.
If you’ve lived on the north shore of Kauai long enough, your perception of time and space is likely to radically change. Island life is slow and steady, and from the vantage point of a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the world can start to seem even larger and more distant than it already is. The parameters of your daily life shrink to fit within a circle of land with a 30-mile diameter, and your perspective shifts accordingly.
This is why, when it comes to leaving the north shore and heading to the south side, that 30-mile diameter can seem much larger than it really is. A day or weekend spent on a different side of the island can feel like a vacation, worthy of car snacks, insta-story shoots, and a pre-planned itinerary of must-see shops and stops. (We’ve been known to even indulge in the occasional weekend ‘stay-cation’ on the south side of Kauai, staying overnight at our favorite hotel in order to truly get the most out of our time down south).
When we first learned about Maile Taylor’s concept for Salt + Sea, a boutique she opened earlier this year in Lawai on the south side of Kauai, we were thrilled to not only have her carry Leahlani products, but also to add another ‘south side stop’ to our list of things to do on Kauai outside of the north shore. Salt + Sea is a fresh, fashion forward and beachy women’s boutique located within the trendy Warehouse 3540, a former aluminum and glass manufacturing warehouse that now hosts an incredible community of shops, galleries, and even food trucks.
Maile’s gorgeous curation of women’s clothing and accessories makes for a unique boutique amongst the diverse array shops in the Warehouse. At Salt + Sea, you’ll find a beautiful selection of bikinis and island-appropriate wear from Miami Swim Week darlings such as Indah, Boys and Arrows, and Beach Riot – as well as some of our favorite local Hawaiian brands such as Aloha Collection, Human Revolution Clothing, Kai Kini Bikinis (and more!). Needless to say, we’re in great company.
Although it’s a small shop, it’s not just locals living on island time who can spend hours browsing through the racks and Salt + Sea. Especially with all that Warehouse 3540 has to offer, there’s truly something for everyone – and it’s definitely worth the trip south. We love having a reason to branch off from the usual touristy path and into the heart of Lawaii - to grab a bite to eat and check out the new and covetable goods at Salt + Sea.
Maile Taylor, Owner of Salt + Sea | Koloa, Hawaii
1) What is the vision behind Salt & Sea?
When I first started thinking about a retail space, I asked myself, "If I could sell anything, what would it be"? I immediately responded with bathing suits. With a little more thought and planning, I decided on a space that catered to women and the beach lifestyle.
We have so many surf shops here and I wanted to offer a space that was geared more toward women and their needs, not just the surf industry. The woman that shops in my boutique loves the beach, surfing, outdoors and looking super hot doing it.
2) What are some of other local brands you carry in Salt & Sea?
Salt + Sea has many local brands such as Human Revolution Clothing, Mai Love Designs, Electric Ocean Jewelry, B.L.I.S.S., By The Sea, Hoa Kai Surf, Kai Kini Bikinis, Beach Glass Bikinis, La Vida Aloha, Frea, and of course Leahlani Skincare. All the above companies are owned and operated by women. Iʻm proud support as many local business' as possible. One of my goals for Salt + Sea is to be a platform for supporting other women in business.
3) Launching your own business and becoming an entrepreneur takes a lot of courage – who or what inspired you to open Salt & Sea?
The inspiration behind my decision came from simply wanting something more. I knew I was done working for someone else. I have three kids that I'm raising on my own and I wanted to have an asset that I could give them as well. In addition, I saw a need on the south side on Kauai. There wasn't any boutique geared toward a young fashion forward women and the beach lifestyle.
4) Life on Kauai is incredibly unique. How would you describe your lifestyle?
Iʻm so grateful to say that I was born and raised here on Kauaʻi. I was raised to live life to the fullest and enjoy every part of Kauaʻi. The kids and I camp often; we love our toes in the sand at Polihale and chilly nights up in Kokee. We spend most evening down at PKʻs surfing. The whole family surfs; from my 3-year old to my Dad. We kayak Na Pali at least once a year during the summer. Itʻs definitely a highlight every year. I try to find adventure as often as possible.
5) Each side of the island is different, and all of them have unique characteristics that we all enjoy. What is your favorite part of living/working on the south side of Kauai? When you travel to other areas on the island, what do you like to do?
The "Dirty South", as itʻs locally referred to, may look like a resort town at first glance, but it is so much more. Growing up here I have seen quite a bit of development and there are a lot of resorts and hotels in this area. However, Poipu is one of the most sacred places on the island. There are heiau and remnants of ancient Hawaiians all over. PKʻs is a surf spot that has bred many profession surfers. Old Koloa Town is the location of the first sugar mill in the state. The chimney is still erect in the center of town. Koloa is a close-knit community and I feel very fortunate to have come from here.
6) Local business shoutout! What other local businesses would you recommend visitors check out on Kauai?
No visit to Kauai would be complete without a trip to Warehouse 3540. We have amazing food, art, hand-made products, unique and amazing collections of locally made and sourced products. We have workshops throughout the month, if you want to learn what some of the shop owners are doing. We have story time for the kids every Tuesday morning. We also have our markets every Friday and every second Saturday night. Our markets are amazing, with local food, crafters, makers of all sort of items, photo booths, henna tattoo artist, you name it, we got it. Not to mention The Fresh Shave is there and they have the BEST shave ice on the island.
Thank you Maile! Make sure to check out Salt + Sea in Koloa when you're visiting Kauai and find them on Instagram @saltandseakauai.