Shop Upcycles Vintage Alohawear into New Designs in Kailua
Mu‘umu‘u Heaven Boutique Quietly Resurrected Across Town.
Mu‘umu‘u Heaven—whose founder built a thriving boutique a decade ago with a vintage clothing reboot—is back in Windward O‘ahu with modern twists on turning discarded alohawear into contemporary styles.
The effervescent Deb Mascia opened the rebooted shop last year in Kailua after nearly three years away from the O‘ahu retail scene. A native of Melbourne, she gives away her Australian upbringing with her phrasing.
“Crazy serendipity!” is how she describes the way she found and outfitted a newer smaller shop across the municipal parking lot from local breakfast favorite Cinnamon’s Restaurant. And she recently expanded to opening daily: Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Fans will recognize familiar looks in some of the halter dresses and bags she was known for the first time around. But now they are joined by new styles, a baby doll, off-the-shoulder, short-sleeved dresses and jumpsuits.
And she just designed a more traditional long dress that reminds her of something that would look great on someone who teaches hula: “It’s really elegant,” she says.
She’s also still whipping up pouches of many sizes, accessories, jewelry, along with some pieces she’s found on her travels.
The concept drew international coverage and celebrity clientele that included President Barack Obama—who wore an aloha sash with his formal attire— wife Michelle, and daughters, Malia and Sasha, as well as musician Jack Johnson, actresses Eva Mendes and Cameron Diaz.
Mascia remains passionate about repurposing mu‘umu‘u and aloha shirts that have been thrown away or donated into modern styles that give them a second life. She estimates that her customers areevenly split between residents and visitors.
This time she is focused on fashion and not adding artwork to the mix. The new store is whimsical with painted clouds and a flamboyant headboard hangs above the shop’s counter. Mascia points out it had belonged to rocker Frank Zappa’s mother, then was donated to her by the Zappa family after the matriarch passed away.
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Mascia has enjoyed the chance to connect with old customers and have new ones find her.
In 2015, Mascia moved out of the Davis Building near the entrance to Kailua after the rent soared. She likes the new place next to a curio/antique shop with other small businesses nearby.
“This is where the mom-and-pop shops are and the local businesses are with character and appeal,” Mascia says. Ever the entrepreneur, Mascia said in September that she’s checking out opening a new space, in Los Angeles.
326 Ku‘ulei Road, #2, Kailua