Q&A: featuring local clothing shops of Maui

1.0 – Jana Andrews, Owner of TRIBE Maui

What a year it has been! Small business owners have not had it easy during this pandemic. We have been sad to see so many local stores close their doors. To keep things light, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite boutiques of Makawao and Paia for this ongoing series. In this series, you will hear about the passions and inspirations behind these local shops, some words of encouragement for the future, and reflections/lessons on navigating a business during the pandemic. Starting off our series is a Q&A with the owner of TRIBE Maui, Jana Andrews

Q: Tell us about your shop, your ethos and your inspiration for starting your boutique!

A: My love for fashion started very early on….From the age of 3 I was picking out my own outfits and was pretty decisive about what I wore from then on…just ask my mother! Choosing what to wear—and how to wear it—was a type of creativity that I gravitated toward without really understanding the significance of fashion. I could channel Madonna one day and Janis Joplin the next…the inspiration never ended! But as I got older I started enjoying styling other people as well, and I guess that’s where my career in retail was born.

My husband and I moved to Maui 4 years ago and every Friday we enjoyed a date night at Casanova’s. Year after year I would look across the street and tell my husband if I were ever to open up a retail store…the location across the street—where Tribe is located—would be it!   Styling is my passion and both the window expanse and the exposure of this particular space was absolutely perfect for me. When the location became available I jumped at an amazing opportunity…and within 6 very busy weeks, Tribe Maui opened in September 2018. I had been in retail for over 20 years and worked for Urban Outfitters for 13 of those as a Visual Merchandiser overseeing 40+ stores at one point. I learned so much from that career and was able to apply much of that knowledge into the opening and running of Tribe.

Tribe Maui embodies the playful, yet fearless side of our island “Tom Girl”…seamlessly merging retro beach and streetwear with flirty and classic silhouettes to create a unique and unexpected vibe. Her body is an ever-changing canvas representing an innovative and creative sense of style through risk-taking and being true to her imagination. Our Tribe girl enjoys being outdoors and strives to make healthy choices for her mind, body, and soul. She surrounds herself with encouraging and loving people and embraces their individuality. She is bold…she is the leader of her Tribe.  

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the future of your shop and the community?

A: As I continue this adventure, one of my biggest goals is to bring in more pieces that are made locally. There is such an amazing talent base here on Maui—and on outer Islands—and being able to support that within my four walls feels extremely fulfilling. While I love styling and merchandising…I really love buying as well! We’ve got a handful of diverse shopping options in Makawao and I strive to always offer something different and unique.  I adore researching new and upcoming brands and introducing them into Tribe.

Recently, one of my associates showed me a beautiful jewelry line called Kisiwa Designs out of Oahu.  I immediately fell in love with her work as it’s so different from any other local jewelry line I’ve carried so far. Gaeda uses Japanese glass beads to intricately create colorful patterns which can be seen on necklaces, bracelets, earrings….and now face mask straps! I love that no two pieces are the same so you can buy one and gift one to your bestie and never feel like you are wearing the same piece! So clever!!!

While I wanted to bring new brands to Maui and to support local artisans, I truly wanted to create an environment where people could come, hang and decompress. Tribe has become so much more than just a retail space…it has become a second home to me—and my puppy Aiko—and hopefully to many of my customers as well. The absolute biggest win for me on any day at Tribe is watching someone try something on and seeing them absolutely glow in confidence. Their smiles and sheer delight in feeling beautiful not only energize me, but also fuel my desire to continue to do what I do.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you learned from the pandemic so far?

A: As I anniversaried my first year open…I breathed a sigh of relief as so many people said that the first year would be the hardest; however, my relief was short-lived… Covid hit quickly and by March we were forced to close our doors. For the next six weeks I felt like I was in a battle I just wasn’t sure I could win. There were many prayers and many tears… and little by little the darkness began to lift. I taught myself how to build an online store which was my saving grace throughout this process. I evaluated and re-evaluated my business plans and took risks so that Tribe could sustain this uncertain time. But the biggest take-away from all of this is how much I realized I love and adore my community in Maui. I have been supported in so many ways which has encouraged me to keep fighting even when times have been rough. 

Words cannot express the gratitude I have for this amazing community…and their strength has given me the strength to persevere. I have been blessed and am excited to share that communal love and compassion for many fashionable years to come!

~Mahalo Maui

Thank you so much Jana for sharing your story, your reflections, and your hopes! We are so lucky to be a part of this very special community. We wish you much success as you venture forward in your business both online and in store. If you haven’t checked out TRIBE Maui before, then check out their Boutique in Makawao or visit their website at www.tribemaui.com. Now you can purchase their beautiful collection of clothes from anywhere!! Thank you again Jana! Stay tuned for the next Q&A!