Designing With The Sea In Mind

Nina Thai

Nina Thai models a Lanikai hibiscus silk dress she designed. Photo courtesy Angels by the Sea Hawaii

Nina Thai, owner and designer of Angels by the Sea Hawaii, located on the first floor of Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, has a different approach from many fashion retailers.

“I want customers to leave my store feeling like they just visited a relaxing beach house, and that they’re taking a bit of that experience home with them,” says Thai.

She also is proud of the products she offers:

“Customers can find unique dresses and jewelry from many designers here in Hawaii, including myself.”

Growing up in Vietnam, Thai would assist her aunt, who was a seamstress, and ever since she’s wanted to use that creative energy to design fashion for other women.

“When I moved to Hawaii, I fell in love with the natural beauty, culture and fashion, especially the Hawaiian muumuu,” Thai explains. “I wanted to create a fusion of Hawaii fashion and modern resort-wear trends, so I used my seam-stress skills to design my own dresses and handbags. All of my designs are hand-

embroidered, hand-painted or made using hand-beaded techniques.”

According to Thai, dresses are the most popular item at Angels by the Sea Hawaii and are priced anywhere from $49 to $165. In addition to dresses designed by Thai, you’ll also find an assortment from other local companies such as Siganka and Indah.

Angels by the Sea Hawaii also offers home décor – including seashell picture frames, art, tableware and signs – and a variety of beauty products showcasing lotions, oils and bath crystals as well.

“We cater to men and women of all ages, and we also have many great gift ideas,” Thai says, noting that March 30 marks Angels by the Sea Hawaii’s two-year anniversary.

“As an immigrant woman who didn’t speak English, I worked so hard to learn how to do business in the U.S. I really prayed for an angel to watch over me, and to help me be accepted and successful in this new world.

“I love owning my own business, and love the feeling that I can go in my own direction and make my own decisions,” she adds. “It feels good knowing that I am giving a part of myself to every aspect of my business. Since I opened my store I’ve seen customers from all over the world, and I want to work on expanding my marketing. I love making people feel comfortable and I love fashion!”

Angels by the Sea Hawaii is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit