Imagine you’re packing for a day at the beach, what are you grabbing? Your favorite swimsuit, a chic cover up, a timeless carryall bag and, of course, a sun hat. Hats are essential sunshine accessories, so it’s no surprise that we absolutely fell in love with Sarah Bray’s new eponymous line. Think unique woven beauties with interchangeable vintage ribbons for your every mood, environmentally friendly materials and a timeless look.
Meet Sarah Bray: former New York City writer and editor turned entrepreneur. We’ve known Sarah for many years — back then we were in Branding and PR and she was a writer, and we would collaborate on editorials and features for the glossy magazines she worked at. Think: Town & Country, House Beautiful, ELLE Décor, and Veranda. We’re so excited to now support the launch of her brand, with the introduction of her accessories on Golden Edit.
After moving to the island with her native husband, Sarah was inspired to create a special product without adding waste to the planet. Her hats are ethically woven with natural palm leaves and environmentally safe sea grass. To further her efforts of sustainability, Sarah uses vintage ribbons, rather than mass-produced materials, to decorate her hats. Her use of interchangeable ribbons is both chic and functional. You will never lose a hat to the wind ever again; just tie the ribbon around your neck for secure styling.
We spoke with Sarah about adjusting to the slower pace of life in Bermuda, what inspires her, launching her business in the midst of a pandemic, and her favorite spots in the sun-drenched island she now calls home...
after years working in fashion editorial, you recently launched your own brand. Tell us about Sarah Bray Bermuda and where the idea came from
When I was an editor and writer, I was always fascinated by how women built their companies and brands. Luckily, it was my job to ask a ton of questions and hear their individual, incredible stories. I learned so much from my time working at various fashion and decorating publications and it was the ultimate education. I can’t thank my former editors and colleagues enough for showing me the world. But when my Bermudian husband wanted to settle on his home island, I knew it was time for a slower-paced life and to quit my job and finally take that entrepreneurial risk I dreamed of. Before launching Sarah Bray Bermuda, I spent years researching business ideas and when I crossed paths with a Texas hatmaker two years ago, I just kept thinking of hats and how much I loved them but yet hated them! It’s oftentimes windy in Bermuda or we are on a boat or a golf cart and your hat is always running away from you. I own lots of sun hats by other brands and would search high and low for ones with ribbons or lanyards you could tie, but you always had to pick a color and stick with it. I really dress for the mood I'm in and can’t possibly stick with just one color – so that’s where the interchangeable ribbon idea came about. Another element is the materials. I am antique and vintage-obsessed, because they just do not make things like they used to. I knew there were so many incredible vintage and antique ribbons out in the world, it was the perfect answer for both beauty and not creating additional waste.
can you share a bit about your design process?
I wish there was a specific one! I guess I would say my biggest inspirations come from images of interiors, and these rare but epic moments in life when I have met a super well-spoken and glamorous woman who just is head-to-toe style – like a Lynn Wyatt, Michelle Nussbaumer or Lauren Santo Domingo. It leaves me starstruck!
YOU’re a lover of vintage – where does this passion stem from, and how does it influence your brand?
I love anything high-quality that is not mass. The quality of vintage and antique items is beyond amazing, I suppose because we now make so many things in massive factories abroad by machines, which is sad. When you look at the weave details of our Bougainvillea hat and our Dahlia, hat it really is astonishing, some skilled craftsman made each hat by hand with seagrass. Made from biodegradable palm tree leaves, each sun hat features antique and vintage ribbons (to secure your hat from flying away in the wind — as an avid sun hat wearer, this is an important detail) that are interchangeable.
Launching a brand during a global pandemic must come with its share of challenges. Can you share a bit about that and your sustainability efforts?
While it’s not exactly the best time to be launching a non-essential brand, I think now, more than ever, we are becoming conscious of how we each can make small changes that have a global impact. I’m far from perfect, but my goal is to explore if it’s possible to make a locally-sourced lifestyle brand with as small of an environmental impact as possible. As a journalist covering fashion and decorating for the past decade, I’ve had the privilege to meet and interview so many inspiring entrepreneurs who each had their own interesting stories. But as I pursued various business ideas of my own over the last few years, I continued to find myself extremely ethically conflicted. I didn’t want to put my name on something that hurt our planet that is already suffering so much from our over-consumption. I didn’t want to bring more meaningless waste into our beautiful world. While I think it’s impossible for any fashion or decorating business to say they are completely sustainable (even if your product is eco-friendly and you are using recycled packaging, shipping non-essential goods requires transportation which thus requires gasoline and as a result has a big carbon footprint), I wanted to try to develop a brand with as little of an environmental impact as personally possible. Every Sarah Bray Bermuda piece is made with antique, vintage, recycled, or biodegradable materials. Anything that requires additional stitching and assembly is done by local artisans within my home state of Texas and new home in Bermuda!
You moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to tranquil Bermuda – how does living seaside inspire you?
Bermuda life is super slow compared to New York City, but I honestly love it. I now have time to reflect, be creative, and connect. For the decade I lived in New York, I was always doing a million things a day and, while it was super stimulating, I never had a moment to process and truly appreciate the beauty of life.
What are some of the best hidden spots on the island?
Beach: Cooper’s Island Beach (grab a provisions at Miles Market for a picnic on these isolated shores).
Restaurant: 1609 at The Princess Marina (call and ask for a table with water views!) or the outdoor restaurant at The Loren (call and reserve a waterside table) or dining on the sand at Shutters at Cambridge Beaches (call and reserve a table on the sand).
Bar: The Terrace Bar at The Rosewood Bermuda.
Hotel: Coral Beach Club and The Rosewood.
Shopping: Tuck Shop in Southampton.
Secret that no one knows about Bermuda: You see an entirely other side of Bermuda when you are on a boat! I would rent a darling pastel colored boat from Bermuda Electric Boat Company and explore Hamilton Harbour and Paradise Lakes.
Beyond fabulous hats, what are your go-to summer essentials year-round?
A high-waisted bikini, Coral reef-safe sunscreen, and a cooler filled with local craft beer!