Photo: Eric Miyasato
Summer Shiigi learned early in life that the achievement of your goal is assured the moment you commit 100% of yourself to it. She watched her parents become successful business owners and experts in their respective fields. “Whenever I walk through downtown, I would meet people who know my Dad and they would share with me how much they admire him. That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave,” says the Mid-Pacific Institute graduate and USC alumna.
She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in psychology however the time she spent living in Los Angeles exposed her to the fashion industry and she immediately fell in love with it. “I was a theatre geek,” Summer laughs. “My creativity stemmed from my stage play performances during elementary and high school. I view fashion as another platform to show my creative side.”
When Summer returned home to Honolulu in 2007, she wanted to bring back a touch of LA through the luxury of personal styling and shopping, an untapped opportunity for entrepreneurs such as herself. She managed a locally owned clothing boutique before launching her personal styling business, Summer Style Hawaii, in 2011. The relationships she nurtured with local jewelry and apparel designers, models, and shoppers made this career transition seamless. “I quit my jobs and committed to starting my own business. This included extensive research, taking business classes, and expanding my network. Relationships are everything in Hawaiʻi. I gained the trust of everyone I partnered with while I was at the boutique so they didn’t hesitate to work with me when I went on my own,” Summer explains. The business expanded her work to include editorial designs, fashion look books, style photo books, and fashion shows. Along with her retail and buying experience and strong work ethic, she garnered national attention from brands such as Calypso St. Barth and 7 For All Mankind.
The demand for her business services grew quickly and she needed office space. It was during this time that she befriended Allison Izu Song, owner and designer of Allison Izu, a brand focused on clothing for petite women. They were familiar with each other’s work and when they learned that they had a common need for work space, they also discovered their shared passion for uplifting and growing the fashion industry in Hawaiʻi. In 2013, The Cut Collective was born.
“Our Aloha for each other is what makes Hawaiʻi special. It’s collaboration instead of competition. Helping one another to succeed will provide us a stronger voice in this industry,” says Summer. She and Allison have become best friends and share willingly what they know about the fashion business. The purpose of The Cut Collective is to be a resource and support system for local designers. Situated within the Mānoa Innovation Center, this fashion incubator/factory hybrid assists independent designers in whatever phase they are at, managing projects from start to finish. This includes everything from costing the project out and developing samples to ordering fabrics and working with the manufacturer to provide a high quality product. Most notably, Summer and Allison provide guidance and mentorship. “I don’t want to be a solo show. I want to share my success,” says Summer. Four local fashion brands are produced through The Cut Collective: Allison Izu, Love & Aloha, Rumi Murakami, and Ten Tomorrow.
Summer loves going to the office. “I get to be surrounded with incredibly talented women who constantly uplift and inspire me,” says Summer. It was Allison who encouraged her to create her own clothing label, Ten Tomorrow, a modern women’s ready-to-wear line with hints of retro inspired styles. “It’s a language for women to use when they want to express a certain feeling.”
What’s on the horizon for Summer? She will be launching her Spring 2015 collection in mid-February. I got a sneak peek of her new romper – it’s a must-have! I love all my pieces from her clothing line so I cannot wait to view the entire collection. In addition, The Cut Collective was recently contracted to provide female uniforms for the Four Seasons Resort Maui front of house staff. They are also working with three up-and-coming designers in developing their clothing lines.
Summer’s commitment to helping others succeed inspires us to do more. She encourages everyone to “Take risks. Be patient and follow your dreams. ”