A Tropical Affair

About the Owner

When I was 12 years old, my parents announced plans to embark on an exotic family vacation. Since I didn’t have many outfits appropriate for the tropics my folks gave me $100 to buy a few great summer pieces. Well, instead of purchasing those recommended "few great pieces," I wisely purchased a single swimsuit that I’d seen in all the magazines... to the tune of $80!  Which was a lot for a swimsuit at that time. Had my father discovered how expensive that bikini was (and that I hadn’t bought a stitch of clothing), he would have killed me, but it was worth the risk. I loved the suit and felt fantastic! Needless to say, it was all downhill from there. By my 13th birthday, I had fallen in love with lingerie as well and I have been hooked on all things fluffy and girly ever since.

I was born and raised in both Manhattan Beach and Laguna Beach.  After school I needed a new experience so moved to beautiful Santa Barbara. I lived there for a while, but I was young and restless, so after several years I moved to New York City.  While there I worked as a wardrobe stylist and later managed an amazing vintage clothing store.  In the city I focused my energy on the seemingly simple dream of opening the most amazing lingerie and swimwear store imaginable.  I had always had unique taste in both lingerie and swimwear and I knew I wasn't the only one.  I envisioned moving back to Santa Barbara to open a sweet little boutique that could house my vision.

I researched every retail lingerie and swimwear establishment that I could travel to by foot, car, or plane. I wanted to create an environment that was inviting to both men and women, but not like any I had seen. When not feverishly underlining business plans and visiting remote panty stores, I scoured flea markets for vintage items that would become the basis for the interior concept. Falling asleep each night I visualized every detail of my ideal store and often getting out of bed in the middle of the night to add a ‘big idea’ to my notebook.   I knew I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday in Santa Barbara and it was also the right time to move there as well. Soon my bags were packed and I was off.

When I arrived back in town, things did not exactly go according to plan. I managed a friend’s store for a while sharing my vision with her, we decided to launch the lingerie store together. We plotted for months, but her current store was doing so well she really didn’t have the time to partner with me. So I was faced with major decision: should I, could I, go it alone? The idea of going into business by myself was scary and overwhelming, but the store had become so real and tangible in my mind that I decided to follow through, no matter what! I found the perfect location within 3 months and everything started to fall into place after that. My biggest hurdle was the start up money. I talked a blue streak explaining my concept to friends and family, and fortunately several key players were willing to invest in my vision. Another friend of mine is a brilliant and offered to help me with the interior design in exchange for fabulous panties. It all came together in September of 2000 and on December 15th I opened A Tropical Affair Lingerie & Bikinis for business.

Looking back, I am eternally grateful to have had tremendous support from family and friends (you know who you are — smile). Without their belief in me, and the help of numerous people who contributed to the build out of the store, I actually don’t know where I might be today. I have also been blessed with an incredible sales team that stands behind the success of A Tropical Affair. I work with fabulous girls everyday who adore great swimwear and lingerie just as much as I do, and each one of us has a fantastic collection of bikinis and panties to prove it!

Always honor your dreams,
Heather



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