Rosewood Bermuda Collaborates with Eco-friendly Sun Hat Designer Sarah Bray-West for World Oceans Day

As a former writer and editor for renowned publications like House Beautiful and ELLE Decor, Sarah Bray-West is well-versed in the luxury goods industry. From growing up in the Lone Star State to moving to New York City and then marrying a Bermudian with family roots in the mid-Atlantic island dating back to the 1600s, Bray-West eventually relocated to Bermuda just before the pandemic. This move deepened her disillusionment with promoting over-consumption in her NYC journalism career, inspiring her to create a sustainable sun hat collection made from antiques and vintage, recycled, and biodegradable materials to reduce non-essential waste.

In honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, luxury resort Rosewood Bermuda has partnered with Sarah Bray Bermuda to advance its ongoing Juniper Initiative, dedicated to conservation efforts within the Bermudian community. Learn more about Sarah Bray’s journey from luxury journalism in Manhattan to a sustainable lifestyle designer in Bermuda and her eco-centric collaboration with Rosewood Bermuda.

Can you share a bit about your career journey? 

“I’ve covered so much and had to write articles about everything under the sun, writing stories for over a decade. When my husband and I moved back to his family home in Bermuda, it was really refreshing to see the repurposing of things. In New York, I felt that, at one point, I was drowning in overconsumption.

I always knew that I wanted to start a brand. Still, it wasn’t until I moved to Bermuda that I learned about the island’s history and incredible authenticity, making me want to have a shop that genuinely told a tale of Bermudian culture from my point of view.

So, I launched Sarah Bray Bermuda during Covid with the idea to later open a shop in Bermuda, and began with sun hats, kaftans, jewelry, and bags. They all had a sustainable theme using either biodegradable or vintage materials. However, the sun hats primarily took off.”

What led you to focus on luxury sun hats instead of other options like swimwear?

“From my former job as a writer and editor who interviewed a handful of swimwear designers, I learned that being in swimwear and being a fashion designer was extremely difficult. What I like about doing accessories is that everything is usually one size fits all. If you’re a startup business and bootstrapping your company from the ground up, doing something that’s one size makes it easier to grow organically. I have always loved sun hats and was lucky to meet a hat maker who could work with me. It all kind of fell into place.”

What inspired you to collaborate with Rosewood Bermuda?

“Bermuda inspires the sun hats. Since I never ended up opening my shop with Covid happening, plus the business took off online with most of my customers being U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia-based, the shop at the Rosewood Bermuda was an excellent space for customers to experience the story of the sun hats in real life. I’m thrilled with my partnership with Rosewood Bermuda because the resort truly is the most luxurious hotel on the island. The clients staying at the hotel are well-traveled, fashionable, and looking for something unique. My sun hats, inspired by Bermuda and sold at Rosewood Bermuda, fit perfectly with the hotel’s beautiful tropical gardens and location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

At the Rosewood, we previously sold a hat that benefitted the Bermuda National Trust. This hat for World Oceans Day with the embroidered sea life ribbons sewn by Fanm Mon will donate 20% of the proceeds to the Living Reefs Foundation—an organization founded in 2014 to invest in protecting Bermuda’s Castle Harbour’s coral reefs and the marine life they support. These ribbons stand out because they’re sewn by Fanm Mon, a local artisan who focuses on women’s dress wear as an ode to our Haitian heritage. I designed the sea life caricatures, and she sewed them.”

Which one of the hats in this collection is your favorite and why?

“My new favorite sun hat is the Hollyhock Sun Hat. It’s so boho and cool, and it has the brim of my best-selling style, the Wildflower, which completely protects your face from the sun yet still makes you look chic. The Hollyhock has this look, but it has the lifeguard, surfer-esque top that’s more bohemian. All my hats are designed with ribbons that customers can switch out. They’re equipped with brass grommets, so you can quickly slip the ribbons in and out. Bermuda is really windy, so you need a hat that can tie onto your head.”

What new projects or initiatives can we expect from you in the coming year?

“With the Rosewood, we want to continue our collaborations, highlighting many local organizations. We’re also planning pop-up activations every Friday at the Rosewood this summer, where guests can customize their sun hats with different ribbons and styles. This will be super special for guests, and I’m excited to get that started.”

– As told to by Britney Eschelman

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