Talk about a happy accident: Jess Shedlock didn’t set out to create a line of island-influenced apparel, but when her denim experimentation started getting the attention of friends and complete strangers, she knew she stumbled onto something good. “I was reworking old jeans, and friends started asking me to make something for them,” she says. “I’d post pictures on Instagram, and people were really responding to them. It all took off from there.”
In 2012, while she was working as a bartender, her social-media-fueled extracurricular became Wonderland Honolulu. “At first, I was using repurposed and vintage fabrics out of necessity. My orders were too small for most factories,” explains Jess, who studied fashion merchandising at the University of Hawaii and learned apparel-construction skills along the way. But she soon discovered that working on small scale was not a limitation but a selling point: “I realized that I like having limited-run designs. It creates a buzz when you only have 50 pairs of shorts in a certain fabric.”
This doesn’t mean business isn’t booming, though. Her label has grown so much—and so quickly—that in 2013 Jess moved to Los Angeles to be closer to manufacturers. The change of scenery has also brought some West Coast cool to her bold shorts and flowy maxis. “I’ve always liked California boho style—and mixing it with Hawaiian influenced bright florals and prints,” she adds. The result: the wardrobe equivalent of an umbrella cocktail. —jane gauger
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