Butterflies and Bikinis -"a swimwear boutique", Santa Barbara, California
We get this question all the time, where does the name Butterflies and Bikinis come from? To answer that question, here is a little back ground on how Butterflies and Bikinis began.
My husband Robert, has been in Import and Export for many years and traveled the world and South America extensively. One country he fell in love with in particular due to the amazing people, friendships, scenery, and opportunity was Brazil.
While on one of his visit's in Curitiba some years ago, he had free time playing tourist like he had done so many times before, waiting for a business meeting later that afternoon, he came upon a small Brazilian Biquini store and went in. The store was empty except for the three young girls working who were a little bit fascinated and curious by the English speaking American whose Portuguese was almost non existent who came in to shop for girl’s swimwear. If you aren’t aware, we have four daughters who live for the beach including me, and thought that Brazilian biquinis would be the perfect gift to bring home from Brazil.
Being the beach rats that we are, we loved the suits and couldn’t wait to try them on and show them off. A week or two later I asked my husband if he thought it would be possible to import the suits directly and open a shop; not too surprisingly he said ok, let me see what I can find out and contact the manufacturers. The quality was superior made of Dupont Lycra at that time; the styles and fit were fantastic and knew they would be an instant hit in our beach community. This is a special picture of our four daughters to the right back in 1990's and we stayed at the Miramar Hotel with Miramar beach in front and Hammonds to the right. Soon after the Hotel closed for remodeling and has never reopened. The hotel has been there for over 100 years and was a favorite destination for families who went there for generations many from the easy coast which has huge roots in Santa Barbara.
A favorite place of ours and of Santa Barbara locals is Butterfly Beach located in Montecito just steps away from the world famous Coral Casino and Santa Barbara Biltmore. It is one of Santa Barbara’s most west facing beaches looking out at the Pacific Ocean, the Channel Islands, Sterns Warf, and the views watching the sun set is breathtaking. It’s a quiet beach, calm surf most of the time, very cleans, rarely crowded, and incredibly beautiful.
Local folklore has it that Butterfly Beach got its name due to the migration of the Monarch Butterfly each year where they would hibernate for months during the winter along various spots on the west coast over thousands of miles. At one time Butterfly Beach was such as spot but only in small amount end up there these days. They hibernate in Eucalyptus trees and due to development over the years; the Tree groves are not as dense which may be the reason.
It is an awesome site to see the Migration in full and can be seen fifteen minutes north of Butterfly Beach, close to UCSB, at Ellwood State Beach Preserve. If you ever get the chance to witness millions of Monarchs clustered together 60-80 feet high in the trees and flying around, is an impressive site and it’s free! Right on the cliffs with the ocean below, the views are spectacular.
When Rob and I first began dating we would head down for walks on Butterfly beach and head towards Hammond’s beach, talking, collecting shells, looking out over the ocean, enjoying the peace and the moment. Stopping to watch the dolphins in the surf, the sunset or enjoy a nice bottle of wine while soaking up the sun and each other. It is a special place for us who live there, and for others who have been there.
A short time later, we found a small little shop for lease In Montecito on Coast Village Road that would be perfect to open a swimwear boutique. Coast Village Road runs parallel to Butterfly Beach 2 blocks away, approximately 300 yards away as the seagull flies! I am sure by now you are getting the connection? Butterfly Beach “Butterfly Migration” and Bikinis! OK, for me it’s personal, I love both butterflies and Bikinis.
We soon opened our little shop and filled it with Brazilian designer swimwear from ANK, Agua Doce, Cia Maritima, POKO PANO, and many other Brands including Cover Ups, jewelry, Havaianas sandals, and accessories. Montecito is filled with movie and rock stars, and business heavy weights alike and we were soon patronized by stars such as Britney Spears, Penelope Cruz, Mary Louise Dreyfus, and many others leading to our success.
From the beginning, we planned to launch a website to support our boutique which happened a few years later and became, www.butterfliesandbikinis.com. We knew there were thousands of swimwear websites on the internet and some almost impossible to find what your looking for with 100’s of brands to chose from and poorly designed navigation leaving shoppers in frustration with no more knowledge than when they logged on let alone a suit. Our plan was to carry on with the same level of personal service as our boutique, limiting the number of designers we carry so we have a compliment of designer fashions, and not 5-10 of the same styles. Easy navigation, with countless number of specific choices at your finger tips from Bandeau top, to
Brazilian bottom, to One piece or a specific color or print. All these options are easy to find, navigate, and check out in the Shopping Cart is a snap.
Women want to feel special and do not want to be one of the thousand girls on the beach or pool wearing the same suit. It’s their personal style and fashion statement and we take great pride and helping each customer coming away feeling special and satisfied. It’s not perfect yet, but we try.
We have online Live Chat, The Fitting Room, and a live person on the other end of the line that you can call and actually speak to. You won’t believe how many girls I talk to each week that say I am the first person they were able to get hold of all week or surprised I actually returned their call after they tried other stores prior hearing nothing from them. That makes me feel really good that I can actually help someone be happy and look great. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but as my husband Rob says, no one can replace the passion, knowledge, and love you have for helping your customers. We can hire employees for order entry, Shipping and receiving and other, but no one can replace what you can offer each and every customer who comes to our store. It’s your love and passion.