By Léo Azambuja
For the majority of her life, Tanira Weston-Webb has been closely connected to water. Her first job was teaching swimming in Brazil. Then she became a professional bodyboarder. So when she decided to open a retail business, she sold something she knew inside out; bikinis.
“I was always at the beach, always in a bikini,” said Tanira, who opened Sweet Bikinis in Kapa‘a in 2008.
Sweet Bikinis specializes in bikinis — the store has at least 5,000 bikinis from all over the world in its inventory. “I travel a lot to pick them up,” she said. As expected, most of the skimpier ones are from Brazil. But Tanira said she also loves Australian bikinis, “very well done,” Canadian and American bikinis.
Additionally, Sweet Bikinis offers a large variety of clothing and accessories to go along with swimsuits, including cover-ups, shorts, slippers, sundresses, beach hats, ocean-inspired jewelry and more. Tanira said she also has a small lingerie collection.
Swimsuit sizes range from zero to 24, and from A to F. The store has specific areas where you can find skimpy bikinis, then move on to medium cut, American cut and full swimsuits, so customers can easily find exactly what they are looking for.
Being born in Brazil, Tanira says bikini is the thing she knows the most. She even calls herself a bikini connoisseur.
“I look at your body type and I know which bikini is going to fit you,” she said. “Not that I want to brag, but I really consider myself a connoisseur.”
Her customers’ responses, she said, prove it. Many women come to the store and are shy or uncomfortable about trying a bikini. Often, they leave with smile — and a new bikini. But not before holding her hand, hugging her, kissing her. And then they send letters of appreciation. It’s not unusual for visitors to call and order more bikinis because the ones they got fit so perfectly. The customers love her.
“I come home and I tell (my husband) Doug, ‘They want to take me home,’” said Tanira, laughing.
Though Sweet Bikinis specializes in swimsuits, they don’t carry anything for men. Tanira said she received some requests, but decided to keep it strictly for women, because it can be “a little awkward” when a woman is trying a bikini while men are shopping for swimsuits.
But there are some women who are still uncomfortable about trying a bikini while others are shopping. For those, Tanira said, Sweet Bikinis does private appointments. The appointments can be scheduled over the phone, and are usually one hour before opening the store or one hour after closing it, and the fee is $10.
“My most rewarding thing is seeing the people’s faces when they are happy, when the bikini fits their bodies perfectly,” Tanira said. “It makes my day”
And quite important; there’s air conditioning in the store. So regardless of how hot the sun can be outside, it’s always cool at Sweet Bikinis.
Sweet Bikinis is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with private appointments possible from 9-10 a.m. or 6-7 p.m. The store is at 4-871 Kuhio Hwy. #B, behind Lemongrass Restaurant in Kapa‘a.
They can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 821-0780 or 651-8876.