WHEN actress Eva Mendez stops mid interview at the Kahala Resort in Hawaii to point you out in front of a large crowd and demand to have the dress you’ve just designed and worn for the evening, there’s a fair chance you’re onto something good.
For former Melbourne girl Deb Mascia, not only was she living the fairytale of falling in love with a fit, tanned and sparkly green-eyed Californian hunk called Eric, while travelling the world as a globetrotting 21-year-old, she had also stumbled upon a goldmine of an idea.
“Yes, it’s quite a story,” Deb says with a still strong Melbourne accent.
I discovered the Aussie at her popular Muumuu Heaven store in trendy Kailua, the buzzing seaside town on the Windward Coast of Oahu, Hawaii.
Muumuu Heaven is all about using vintage Hawaiian aloha wear to create fabulous, one of a kind, eco-conscious fashions and other interesting homeware items and accessories. The sexy Muumuu dresses, in particular, have been flying off the shelves – even President Obama and his wife Michelle and other Hollywood stars are regular clients these days.
“After settling down with Eric after meeting up on Waikiki Beach and falling in love all those years ago, I was doing some volunteer work in a thrift shop with all these older ladies, and they would say to me, ‘You can throw these bags of old items out’, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, they are gorgeous fabrics!”
And history shows that moment proved to be a case of one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure as creative Deb cut up and reworked those fabrics and vintage clothes into some of the most gorgeous and in demand Muumuu dresses on the planet. As fate would have it, even her married name of Mascia translates to “dressmaker” in Italian.
“I know, how amazing is that?” the eco-conscious and fashion savvy entrepreneur says with big bright eyes. “I pinch myself sometimes. I just returned from a vacation in Venice and we went to a fabulous hotel, the Metropole. The owner came up to us and asked if I was the ‘fashion maestro who recycles muumuus’. It was surreal to be that far away and have someone know what it is you do and appreciate it. Hawaii is also a fabulous place to call home.”
Deb also takes pride in the fact her store also promotes local environmental non-profits as well as nurture designers and visual artists.
Aside from the beautiful clothing on offer, there’s something for everyone at Muumuu Heaven, including funky bags, frames, books, jewellery and other quirky accessories – and all sold with the added bonus of reducing the planet’s landfill.
So, does she miss Melbourne? “I miss the markets and the coffee,” Deb says. “There’s nothing like picking up fresh fruit and produce at the Victoria Market. I loved the hot jam donuts and all the people yelling out the veggie specials. I miss the nostalgia, and my family … sometimes I even miss the cold.”
Find out more about Muumuu Heaven at www.muumuuheaven.com