Creating a Perfect Sky
While living in California in the early 2000s, Tiffany and Shane Breeden began having the thought that many young adults who were raised in Hawaii and then move away must have: They were thinking of viable career options that would allow them to come back home.
The two had amassed ample experience during their years on the Mainland — Tiffany in fashion, and Shane in business — and they toyed with the idea of opening a boutique in Hawaii to capitalize on both of their talents. It seemed, at first, like a pipe dream, but they opened Bamboo Sky in 2006 and now are celebrating their 10th anniversary.
For Tiffany, opening the shop had been the realization of a lifelong dream. She’d been interested in fashion since she was a little girl going on shopping trips with her mom — “That was our thing to do when I was young, was to go to all the little boutiques, not necessarily to go on shopping sprees, but just to try on clothes and have fun,” she explains.
Tiffany initially moved to California to study fashion design in college. But after graduating, she started working in retail and discovered that she enjoyed that end of it more, moving from sales jobs into management and then landing a stint in apparel production for Suzanne Somers’ line.
“I found that I actually love being around people and talking about fashion and styling people,” Tiffany says. “I think that’s what it was — I liked the closer connection to the client.”
In honor of hitting 10 years, Bamboo Sky hosts an anniversary party from 7 to 10 p.m. May 6 at M Nightclub, featuring raffle giveaways, Henna tattoos, a beauty bar and exclusive trunk shows by various brands. It’s all followed by an after-party with Tantriq Entertainment.
“I want to thank my customers for 10 years of support and business and friendship,” Tiffany says. “It is just going to be a big party.”
And there is a lot to celebrate. On a personal note, since starting the shop, Tiffany and Shane have since married and now have two children, 4-year-old Willow and 19-month-old Kai. And throughout the years, Bamboo Sky has attracted a loyal customer base locally, as well as shoppers from all over the world. With an overarching look that channels beachy bohemian chic, brands in the store include Flynn Skye, Indah Clothing, The Jetset Diaries, Amuse Society, For Love & Lemons and more.
Over the years, Bamboo Sky also has housed a number of now-well-known local designers including clothing brands Wonderland Honolulu and Roberta Oaks, and jewelry lines Pure Joy Hawaii and Pi Collection. (Indeed, the shop’s list of local vendors and former employees reads like a who’s who in local fashion.)
But Tiffany admits that it hasn’t always been an easy decade — that period, after all, straddled the recession. There were even times, she admits, that they thought about closing shop. But through a little grit and business savvy — and, Tiffany says, her own stubbornness — here they are.
“It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears throughout the years. Highs and lows,” Tiffany says. “But in the end, I love doing it. This is just what I love to do, it really impassions me.”
Metro had the chance to catch up with Tiffany in the Kapahulu Avenue boutique to chat about what inspires her, how she’s maintained the shop’s success and what’s to come.
Why did you want to start your own shop?
I think I always wanted to play store — you know when you are a little girl, it’s a dream to have your own shop with dresses everywhere and to dress people like they’re your dolls. Maybe subconsciously, that is what I wanted to do. Also, I love shopping. So for me, the whole buying aspect is so fun. I love going on buying trips, selecting from different (brands) and thinking about what is going to go with this.
How do you go about curating your collection?
It’s very inspired by me and what I personally like to wear. I am kind of all over the place — one day I might want to be really girly and wear a big poufy skirt, another day I am very bohemian with just jeans and a T-shirt.
How have you seen the local fashion scene change since you first opened?
When I went to college and studied fashion design … people were like, ‘What do you guys wear (in Hawaii)?’ They had no clue. And now Hawaii, in the last four or five years, is making a mark. I think it is great that people now have options with different boutiques popping up. You have a variety of places to shop from.
Early on, MySpace was an integral part to building up your business. How has the more recent boom of newer forms of social media impacted you?
There is good and bad to that. The great thing is that when I post something, you get an instant response. However, the detrimental thing is if I don’t post. You have to be on top of it. Gone are the days when people come in just to see what you have. They actually are on their phones first and if they like something, then they come in.
Ten years is a big deal for any business. What has been the key to your success?
We have definitely had our highs and lows. There was a time when the economy was really bad. We really had to be smart about our buying. I kind of adjusted my line based on the economy and the way people were shopping.
Besides being smart about buying and following the way my customers are buying, I … am here all the time. All the time. And a lot of my customers have said they really love that because they feel like they can connect with me. And I think that is important for small businesses — that people know the owner and you create this personal relationship.
Thinking back on the last 10 years, what stands out to you about running Bamboo Sky?
When I think about the 10 years of Bamboo Sky, for me it’s about the friendships that I have nurtured over the years with not only my employees, but also my customers. I truly believe that Bamboo Sky is about bonding over the experience of playing dress up together — it’s a boutique where girls can encourage each other to dress and feel good. I have made so many friends in my 10 years of business, I feel like they’re all my family.
Looking ahead, what is your goal with Bamboo Sky?
My overall goal is to make sure my clients feel good about themselves. No matter how you choose to dress — be it simple and casual, chic and sophisticated, or eclectic and bohemian — you should always have a healthy outlook about yourself.
As far as the business side goes, it would be awesome to have more than one location again. Maybe even one in So-Cal, where I sort of left my heart!
And eventually, I would love to diversify into beauty/skin-care products that are vegan, eco-conscious and sustainably manufactured. But that’s a whole other chapter.
BAMBOO SKY IS LOCATED AT 1016 KAPAHULU AVE. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.BAMBOOSKY.COM.