My Mother, My Inspiration

My Mother, My Inspiration

(one of the many photoshoots we did together at an early age)

My mother is my best friend and my number one inspiration when it comes to fashion. She taught me about how one can discover themselves through fashion. She dresses with a sense of class and iconic elegance that cant be recreated. Whether it was her Hawaiian childhood in the 60's, her New Mexican college life in the 70s or her job in the Californian swimwear industry in the 80's, she inspires me daily to put my best foot forward and dress that way I want.  

As a small child you grew up during the late late 50's early 60's, do you remember what things in terms of style inspired a very young Shelby? The movie Funny Face is a perfect reference because around that time period was the earliest I can remember loving clothes; the poofy dresses, the colors, the attention to detail. I also remember when we'd go shopping for back to school dresses at Liberty House (now Macy's) which was a highlight of the year. We also got summer play clothes and swim suits, swimwear has always been a constant theme throughout my life, I can always remember picking out the swim suits and then wearing them to the beach. I later would sew swimsuits for money in high school. Another big childhood inspiration was  visiting the Tori Richards factory with her friend Tori, whose parents owned the company.
(a photo of a young Shelby at the beach, visibly upset due to a ripped bathing suit, you can tell how much she valid her beachwear)
(a young Shelby christmas morning looking adorably elegant as always)

A young entrepreneur in High School I see, do you remember when you started sewing and what led you to making your own clothes? My sister Shore taught me how to sew in 5th grade, and I can remember sewing a sleeve to the neck of a dress and I got so frustrated I threw the garment in the corner, I was so mad I didn't pick it up for 3 months. then I picked it up, fixed it and the rest was history. From then on I sewed the rest of my clothes throughout high school and made money buy making swimwear for others.
(Shelby in Highschool, can we just acknowledge how tumblr famous she would've been)

When sewing what inspired you? At that point I LOVED Kimonos and kimono fabric, Japanese culture in general but after that then I got into vintage, through my 20's and into my 30's I was really into vintage which was wonderful because at the time no one was really into vintage which meant I could get amazing vintage dresses from the 30s for not a lot, versus now where vintage costs an arm and a leg.
(Shelby in an original ensemble using kimono fabric and looking like Joni Mitchell)

Was there any vintage item in your closet that was your all time favorite? YES! A Navyblue women's jacket with white piping, I wore that thing all the time! It was a summer weight wool and it went with everything.

When you got into college what became your fashion inspiration: The thing that I remember the most was buying white cotton sailor pants and dying them all sorts of crazy colors, my lavender pair were my favorite, they were high-wasted with wide bells which you'd pair with platform heels which would be extremely in this very minute. 

I know you spent time your first semester of college in New Mexico, how did the change of location effect your style? Well, I had to borrow my roommates Navy blue wool peacoat, and I refused to give it back because it was freezing cold. Oh and I loved all the native American silver and turquoise Jewelry.
(Shelby in college wearing a vintage dress and crazy platforms which are completely in fashion right meow)

You graduated the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a BFA in drawing and painting, how did that end up getting you a job in the fashion industry? Well I worked for eight years at Crazy Shirts (the silk screen t-shirt company) working in the factory's art department, I was the first woman artist in the company (before those cats). And they bought Norfleet Hawaii which was a men's beachwear company, and I did work for them as well. Four years later they sent us to the mainland, while in California, we began to make custom t-shirts some of which I designed for the swimwear company Raisins who loved them. This lead to an opportunity at Gilbert Frank West, a fabric converter in Los Angeles, which led me to designing textiles for Raisins which led to a full time job there.
(Shelby in the 80's wearing a lovely turquoise  ensemble)

What inspired your swimwear textile designs: A lot of times palm trees, ocean things aswell, fish seaweed, hawaiian motifs etc inspired my designs. Growing up in the meca of swimwear, Hawaii, and then moving to the swimwear fashion capitol  Los Angeles I was constantly surrounded by beach bods. I always dated surfers and growing up watching films like The Endless Summer, Gidget, and listening to The Beach Boys all came together as inspiration for my work. 

(she then said "enough about me," I had to explain that this whole article is ABOUT her, whereas she said "everyone who is reading this is probably asleeeep," oh mother)
(two of Shelby's textile designed bathing suits)

Tell me a bit about The Action Sports Show: It was a big convention for the swimwear, beachwear industry and Raisins used my entire designs for the booths, they used my textile designs, earrings, belts, beach towels, belts etc. It was my crowning achievement as a designer

How did your personal fashion evolve from your hippy days to a woman in the work force? I shopped vintage until I moved to California, working full time and being an rt director Ihad to go to corporate meetins and all of a sudden I needed a business wardrobe. Living next door to Fashion Island and near South Coast Plaza the world of designer clothing opened up to me, I got a neiman marcus credit card and the rest was history.

30's years later, what are your current fashion inspirations? Rachel Zoe, My collection of Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, (thanks to her daughter Devon for working there), Nan Kempner, My love of vintage has remained, I still watch old movies from before my time and I still love beachwear and Japanese inspired garments, so people never really change. As long as I can remember, clothes and clothing have always been an important part of my life, whether it my soft button down crazy printed pj's I wear nightly, my favorite DVF wrap dress I'll wear out to lunch with my dear friends or a muu'uu I would wear when we lived on the farm, fashion is important to me. Some might look at the fashion industry as trivial and superficial but its so much more than that, Fashion is an extension of your personality, its super creative and its how most of the world views you and you only get once chance to make a first impression, so make it amazing!

I'm so happy I chose to interview my mother, and I think all of you should do the same, remember take her words to heart, she knows what she's talking about!
Tell your mothers I say Hello
and PLEASE keep it sassy,


  1. Wow, tell Momma Sasssquatch that I was NOT asleep!! That's all so cool. I'd love to hear more about her career and what she does now. And jeez, those photos. I love the Joni Mitchell one.

  2. PS, I am totally stealing this idea and interviewing my mom.

  3. She knows my first daughter will be names Shelby Louise, right? Which will just require me to have children before any of you guys.