Debbie Kowalski Wilson has made it her mission to inspire others with the things that inspire her. After teaching herself how to sew, she opened the Clothes Addict, a French-style vintage clothing boutique, in 1978 in the town of Paia in Maui’s North Shore. The store drew quite the following, including Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks and Cyndi Lauper. But then windsurfing became popular and she committed herself to find the bond between her art and the beautiful devotion to the ocean.
Forty years ago, the woman many refer to as just “Deb”, transformed her chic boutique into Maui Girl. Describing the founding of the name, Deb says “I was driving my 1960s Yellow VW Bug named Butterball from my farm in Peahi, above Jaws. It was the early 80s, and driving along the scenic North coast on a beautiful sunny day a song came on the radio. “Maui Girl.” I’d heard the song in the past, but on that particular day when I heard it a light went on! That’s it! That’s the name for my label. Maui Girl! Now here we are almost 40 years later!”
Located at 12 Baldwin Avenue in Paia, Maui Girl was started on a very simple promise. Deb would create swimwear that was as functional as it was fashionable. Her suits were to be made for all manner of Island living, not just lounging by a pool. Designed to make surfing, windsurfing and diving even more enjoyable. Fashioned for those whose spirit is seduced by the sea, and whose spirit deserved to be seductive on its own.
Wilson’s swimwear was and always will be - a siren’s call. So, it shouldn’t really be a surprise then that her swimsuits have been featured in Sports Illustrated over 48 times. When the editor of Sports illustrated describes something as a work of art and it’s not the models she’s referring to, but the swimsuits, well, that’s going to turn some heads.
But turning heads is something Debbie Kowalski Wilson has been doing from the moment she began Maui Girl & Co. Today, Maui Girl continues the commitment to be an inspiration for all those who seek it. Recently acquired by new owners, it has established itself authentically in Hawaii, with an eye on sharing a little slice of Maui with the rest of the world.