Beach Bonuses

More and more Maui designers are finding their swimsuits and jewelry featured in this year’s 50th anniversary Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

After it was reported that Haiku’s Lisa Letarte Cabrinha’s white mesh bikini bottom design graced the magazine cover, several other Maui designers pointed out that their wares had also landed a spot or spots in the coveted issue.

Maui Girl, based in Paia, which has been landing suits in the magazine for years, had a record of 14 suits in the publication this year and, for the first time, Olinda jewelry designer Jasmine Bustamente of Jasmine Honey Designs had two of her pieces featured.

Other designers featured include Sarah Bolz of kai ulu swimwear on Maui.

Sports Illustrated did not respond to an email requesting a list of designers featured in the magazine, which hit stands earlier this month. All designers reported in this article contacted The Maui News directly. Some designers also have their pieces on the Sports Illustrated website.

Bustamente, a King Kekaulike High School graduate, said that she was “ecstatic” when she found out that her jewelry was photographed worn by top models in the magazine.

“This was my very first year being featured, and it couldn’t be better. It is their 50th edition so it’s extra special,” said Bustamente, who attended University of Hawaii Maui College’s fashion program and took classes at Hui No’eau, which she said “helped me take my jewelry to a whole new level.”

The magazine’s cover girl, Kate Upton, wore one of Bustamente’s gold-dipped crystal necklaces in an inside page photo. Gold handcuff bangles are also featured on another model inside the magazine, which shot models in various places around the world.

For Debbie Wilson of Maui Girl, being in the magazine consistently since 2008 is still a thrill.

She has been sending suits to be considered for the issue since 2005.

“We at Maui Girl are extremely excited to see Sports Illustrated models wearing our suits in exotic places around the globe,” the 18-year Kuau resident said in a email. “It validates our design principle that suits can be functional and look fantastic on some of the world’s most beautiful women. This is a great opportunity for Maui Girl given the annual excitement that this magazine generates in swimsuit design.”

There is no cash compensation for making it in the magazine, but Wilson said she gets “advertising dollars” as she uses the magazine pictures on her website.

She added that it costs $350,000 to buy a full-page color ad in the swimsuit edition and in the 2013 magazine one of her suits landed two full-page shots with the same model.

As the magazine rolls out with Maui Girl suits, Wilson says it’s always a traffic generator for her flagship store in Paia as well as increased sales online at

“We are experiencing this spike in our business right now,” she said.

Maui Girl is a small company compared to major designer labels, Wilson said, noting that she does not have the advertising budget that larger and other well-known designers have.

“So this kind of exposure is very important to Maui Girl. We are a small business here in Paia, and to have made it into SI in these kinds of numbers is a great feeling. We put forth a great deal of effort to get into this issue as the rewards can be significant.”

Bustamente said in an email that she submitted her jewelry to the magazine last year but none of her pieces were used.

She calls her jewelry designs “beach chic with a bohemian twist.”

The jewelry features elements such as gold, sterling silver and gemstones. She also uses Tahitian pearls and shells she finds on Maui’s beaches.

Her wares can be found online at and at boutiques on Maui, Oahu and Kauai.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at