By Madison Flager
Portrait By Allison Langer
Charlotte Hicks remembers the first store to sell Sea Lily clothing: Kristine Michael, located just off Dixie Highway in South Miami. “It was my favorite store; they were very good to us,” Hicks says.
Though Kristine Michael closed in January after the owner retired, Sea Lily is just getting started. In the three years since Hicks, 46, founded the luxe resort wear brand, the line’s jumpers, dresses, tunics and pants have gone from being sold in a few boutiques in South Florida to shops up and down the Eastern Seaboard and into the Caribbean.
The line is still undeniably Floridian, with an emphasis on breathable fabrics and bright colors. Hicks, who is originally from Sweden, has lived in Florida for 20 years and says she draws inspiration for her collections from the area’s everyday treasures—the ocean, the sky and even the various birds
“Fashion has always been a personal passion, and when I saw a need in the market for fun, feminine and transitional resort wear, I jumped on it,” Hicks says.
The current Sea Lily collection, which launched in May, takes a slight departure from the fuchsias and teals of past collections, instead featuring softer tones like gray, white and light pink. Still, it was designed with South Florida in mind.
“The colors of Miami and South Florida are very bright, and we wanted to explore something a bit contrasting and softer,” Hicks says. “I think softer colors can be very feminine, and they let the person who wears them shine.”
When dreaming up new designs, Hicks says the Sea Lily woman she envisions is style-conscious, well-traveled, adventurous and philanthropic—an attribute that is especially important to Hicks, as a portion of all Sea Lily proceeds goes to ocean conservation efforts largely in Miami and the Florida Keys.
Sea Lily works with nonprofits like the Coral Restoration Foundation, Debris Free Oceans and the Oceanic Preservation Society. Through these organizations, Sea Lily has helped replant 450 corals. And as Hicks puts it, this is just the beginning.
After growing up near the Baltic Sea, relocating to South Florida and spending time in the Bahamas with her family, Hicks has a great appreciation of the ocean and has seen firsthand the damage being done to it.
“The world’s oceans and coral reefs are under attack,” Hicks says. “The reasons for this are vast and complicated—from global warming to development to overfishing to pollution. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and just give up; Sea Lily is my way of doing what I can to make a difference.”
Sea Lily also regularly holds trunk shows, where hosts can name their charity of choice. Through these events, the brand has partnered with local organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Breakthrough Miami.
“It’s nice because people can give back and feel like they’re part of something bigger,” she says.
Originally appeared in the Summer 2017 Issue.