At fourteen, Naomi Acacia Newirth started making swimwear out of necessity: she couldn’t find the styles she wanted in stores. Growing up in Maui, swimwear was no casual once-a-year shopping trip to whatever local shopping center was available. On the island, it's swimsuit season year-round. Newirth, even as a teen, was ahead of the fashion curve creating and wearing designs of her own.
Fast forward to now. Newirth is a successful business owner, designer, and mother running a luxury swimwear brand: Acacia. A childhood hobby turned career has resulted in Newirth’s designs being featured in almost every major fashion magazine over the last several years (Vogue, Elle, Nylon, GQ, Esquire, the list goes on and on) and become a favorite not only with the locals but among international celebrities as well.
Newirth’s warehouse was one of our first stops in Maui. Though the warehouse was just that, a warehouse, it’s surrounded by such lush flora on the Northshore near Haiku that it seemed a little bit magical. Almost everything on the island does, including Newirth herself. Casually propped against a table in the middle of the room pointing out new designs and photos adorning the walls, Newirth exudes the laid-back aloha lifestyle. It’s hard not to use a word so overused in fashion to describe her, but she truly seems effortless. She’s sunkissed from years in coastal cities ranging from Maui to LA to Bali; hair perfectly textured by a lifetime supply of salt air, and yet kind, approachable, and 100% human.
After outfitting our guest for the first episode of Sites and Sounds, Nashville’s Nikki Lane, Newirth sat down with us for a quick chat on the evolution of Acacia. She pinpoints a pivotal moment in the inception of her brand to a trip to Bali: “My previous boyfriend was a pro surfer and I would go to Bali with him a lot for his surf excursions. I met my manufacturer there. So we started copying the suits I made myself and making replicas so the idea [to start Acacia] just stemmed from that. Somehow I got lucky. It doesn’t happen for everybody. I’m very fortunate. ” After that trip and a few initial photoshoots with samples of her designs, Newirth began to take the venture more seriously.
“It was the kind of situation where everyone was like, ‘You’ve got to walk into the stores, you’ve got to just talk to the buyers’. Now that I’m older and experienced, I know that you’re not going to catch a buyer just sitting in a store. But I did that for a while and we did big trunk show sales. I decided to take the brand to Swim Week in Miami one year, I think it was the summer of 2011. That really just changed the game for us and put us on the map. We’ve been going ever since,” Newirth reflects. “Going” is an understatement. Acacia has been constantly flourishing since, expanding to over 200 retailers internationally. We asked Newirth which pieces she was most excited to debut: “There’s a few new silhouettes that we added super last minute that I’m excited about. Being a new mom I love one-pieces. We have awesome one-pieces and I feel like there’s a trend with one-pieces right now. Young girls like them, older women like them, curvy girls like them, skinny girls like them, it’s awesome for everybody. It has a little piping white edge that I really like.”
Though the brand is constantly evolving - Newirth now has a kids’ line called Acacia Honey alongside her women’s line - her designs remain undoubtedly Acacia. Each suit is made from buttery-soft fabric and features patterns and colors inspired by Newirth’s own experiences and travels. “I love vintage stuff,” Newirth shares, a slight twinkle of inspiration or perhaps just the golden island sun in her eyes. “Hawaii and vintage aloha stuff has definitely been a big inspiration for our prints. We do really well with doing a little keeping that theme in mind. My travels in india have always been a big inspiration as well,” she explains. Newirth continues to visit Bali frequently for both pleasure and business with her toddler, Hunter, in tow keeping her well of inspiration full for the next iteration of Acacia.
Shop Acacia online and find a full list of retailers here: www.acacia.co