Florida Keys Business
Sunday, May 11, 2014
What to wear
Island clothes for everywhere

Like the currents that flow effortlessly in the Atlantic Ocean and combine to form the clear, blue Sargasso Sea, the clothing at Sargasso on Simonton Street flows effortlessly, hangs comfortably and there's no shortage of deep blues, greens and the occasional white cap.

"Finally, I know where to send people when they're looking for good, unique clothing, for guys and girls," said Rebecca Morse, who works at the shop one day a week and joked that she'll likely be working to pay off her new shopping/working habit.

Kimber Tracy, who lived in Hawaii until she was 29, opened the shop at 207 Simonton St., on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but there's nothing dark about Sargasso.

The inviting shop exudes the relaxed atmosphere of the islands and the tropics, with all the whites and colors of an exotic, sun-soaked wardrobe.

Tracy recently added a shipment of HiHo brand clothing and accessories.

The clothing is made in the British Virgin Islands, and named after an island phrase that means "to relax and hang out."

The apparel line features super-soft t-shirts, shorts, pants, tank tops and heavy-duty bags that are as durable as the clothes are soft, begging to be placed against sunburned skin after a day at the beach or on the boat.

Tracy also carries the flowing skirts and dresses from Elan that are actually eight outfits in one, as they can be worn eight different ways as tunics, skirts and dresses.

"It's the best 66 bucks you'll ever spend," Tracy said.

Stephanie Fischer bought one of the Elan 8-way dresses on a recent sunny Thursday afternoon, deciding to treat herself to a gift for her birthday, which was Friday.

A mate on the Floridays, Fischer said she loved the way the dress fit her petite frame.

The comment would have made Tracy beam.

"My core mission with the store was to offer a really diversified experience with price points ranging from $30 to $300, and with sizes that fit any normal-sized woman, from size 0 to 14 or 16," Tracy said. "I want everyone to be able to find something they can afford, or something they can't live without. Plus, I'm not on Duval Street, which allows me to be a little more reasonable and accessible in price."

While Sargasso is Tracy's first retail venture, she has been a successful entrepreneur in design, advertising and marketing realms for more than two decades.

"I was born and raised in Hawaii, and then started wintering here in Key West about five years ago, so with the shop, I've really gone back to my island roots," Tracy said, happy about the local clientele Sargasso has been cultivating.

As for the name, Sargasso, Tracy relates to the mystique of the Sargasso Sea, where currents blend and where the sargasso seaweed closely resembles her own favorite marine creature, the leafy sea dragon.

"I think the store really reflects the eclectic mystique of the Sargasso Sea, the islands, and the diversity of life here," she said. "I want to be able to cater to everyone from service industry workers to retirees. Snowbirds and everyone in between, and I hope I've expressed that in our different lines, brands and styles with something for everyone."

mmiles@keysnews.com

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