Just below the vibrant splash of colourful balconies home to the Holiday Inn Express, lies a quaint little swimsuit shop in the heart of St Julian’s, coming all the way from one of the most colourful countries in the world: Brazil.
But this is no ordinary bikini shop, because Carolina, the brains behind Paixao Fruit has built her business up purely from her love of these unique swimsuits.
“I’ve helped 11 companies start-up their business in total throughout my life. When I finished my last project, I was debating whether I should take on another one or do something for myself …
“I came to Malta for the first time to complete an internship and fell in love after only 6 months – turns out I had fallen in love with the island. I loved everything about it – the island itself, the architecture, the way of life. Malta and I parted ways after a while, but coming back was always at the back of my mind. I came here for a holiday, and let’s just say the holiday became a more permanent affair.”
So now that Carolina had found her dream location, her next quest was to build her dream business, and hearing her speak so passionately about everything related to swimsuits and bikinis even put a smile on my face.
“I’m from a touristic area in Brazil. The place is basically known for the large amounts of bikini factories that you get to after travelling in the forest for a bit.
“But they’re not the typical factories you picture in your head, they’re small factories run by small families, all members working to make bikinis.”
As she browses through racks and racks of swimsuits, carefully picking the best of the best to give me a peak, she explains how they’re not manufactured in bulk, and how every one of them is hand sown to perfection.
“The swimsuits are made from people that genuinely love what they do, the swimsuits are made with love. I mean, even the husbands of the family are sewing swimsuits. It really is something else.”
“When I came back from Brazil, I found the perfect spot and finally decided to open up my own swimsuit shop in St Julian’s. Then the real work started.
“As you guys say in Maltese, and I hope I’m saying it right, it’s not always ‘ward u zghar?’ (nothing runs smoothly all the time). I don’t think I’ve had a free day in months now. It’s a bit scary knowing that if there’s a month where you earn nothing, you genuinely get nothing. But at the same time, joy comes from understanding that if you truly earn nothing, you know that at least you’re setting something up for your own future.”
And as Carolina grabbed her favourite swimsuit pieces and gave them a whirl just so that I could have a closer look, she began telling me all the things that make her job worthwhile.
“I think the most satisfying part is when a client returns to my shop to buy more of my products. Or gives me their number so if that they’re the first to know when new stocks arrive. Getting this kind of feedback, especially when you’ve just started, is just amazing to hear.”
And as I looked at the colourful swimsuits with gorgeous patterns that simply scream SUMMER, she quickly added: “I also make some myself you know. I feel like they reflect where they come from and how far I’ve come from my days in Brazil to this moment right here. I’m not even going to lie … sometimes I get so attached to them, especially the ones I’ve made myself, that I feel sad when they’re sold.”
But as everything within the circle of life, the bikinis must leave their mother’s nest. Care to give Carolina’s gorgeous swimsuits and bikinis a loving home?
You can visit Carolina’s swimsuit shop, Paixao Fruit, in St Julian’s, just as you enter the Holiday Inn Express and give your wardrobe a touch of well-needed colour.
Visiting in winter? Carolina will have even more to choose from with a variety of the best Brazilian winter warmers in store for you.