Naomi Newirth’s life sounds like the plot of a film. The setting? Maui, Hawaii. Our heroine? A bikini designer, balancing creating her beautiful swimwear line with raising her two little island boys.
“We are outdoors all the time”, she tells us of her idyllic life. “It is so special to see my son grow up on the beaches I grew up on. We are also fortunate to have family close by. We live on a two acre family compound full of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. He runs down to see his ama (grandma) every morning.” Naomi’s workdays are spent perfecting her collections, which have now expanded beyond swimwear to include resort and children’s ranges, and running her flagship store. Time is punctuated by beach sunsets, horseback riding, and homemade veggie juices.
But before this all becomes too perfectly cinematic – even in paradise, the work/life balance conflict cannot be escaped. Acacia, the sustainable swimwear line Naomi began working on in high school, opened their first flagship store just two days after she gave birth to her second child. “It was so difficult, because I was so sick with hyperemesis gravidarum”, she recalls. “There was so much I wanted to do, but just could not at the time with how severe my sickness was.”
And while she may crave the slow life just as much as we all do, it seems Naomi is drawn to the hustle. “I thought I would be a younger mother”, she tells us, “but as life progressed and my focus was on my career and my dream of starting a swimwear label, I didn’t have kids right away. I ended up waiting until my early thirties… I had worked so hard up until this time. Many times I would work through the weekend and have no days off. I feel that is how I was able to get to where I am now”.
We spoke to the designer about her childhood in Maui, growing up surfing and sewing, and how the transition to motherhood came at the perfect time for her – though not without its sacrifices.
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Tell us about your childhood in Maui - what are some of your most vivid memories?
I have very vivid and fond memories of my elementary school. I attended a Waldorf school in a magical setting, old plantation houses surrounded by a beautiful campus. I also grew up surfing everyday, and running to waterfalls on the weekends. Maui provides a very special environment for childhood.
You started sewing bikinis from a young age. Was this something you taught yourself, or was it passed down in your family?
I grew up in a creative household. My mother was a kindergarten Waldorf teacher and an interior designer, and my father has always been amazing with his hands. I have a Native American heritage, and used to spend weekends with my dad beading Native American rattles. Waldorf was very art based as well. Come mid-high school, I wanted to learn how to sew my own swimsuits, and took a class that taught me exactly that.
What did you feel was missing in the bikini market?
The market was missing small cut and form-fitting bottoms. You could not walk into a store to purchase a suit that didn’t sag on your bum. Growing up on Maui we all wanted skimpy bottoms, that flattered one’s curves. We wanted that mix between the low-cut Italian bikini, with the coverage of the Brazilian bikini bottom. It’s everywhere now, but when we first launched Acacia you could not find this anywhere!
What brought you to Bali as an adult?
My boyfriend at the time was a professional surfer. We traveled all over the world and in 2006 I traveled to Bali with him. It was this trip that I met my manufacturer who we still work with today.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mother?
Yes, always. I thought I would be a younger mother, but as life progressed and my focus was on my career and my dream of starting a swimwear label, I didn’t have kids right away. I ended up waiting until my early thirties.