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Local Entrepreneurs Channel Worldly Style on Balboa Peninsula

If you were passing West Balboa Blvd. a few weekends ago, you’d notice a beach home unlike the others: coastal-cute decorations hung from a small wraparound porch. Bikinis were displayed with due chicness; handmade choker necklaces were sprinkled around the outdoor space.

It was a stop-and-check-it-out moment on Balboa Peninsula and the result of two local fashion entrepreneurs—Hayden Gibson and Ava Thobe—whose authentic visions are as strongly articulated and cool as the women themselves.

“I started my jewelry business, Choke Local, about a year and a half ago while living in Padova, Italy, a university town right outside of Venice,” Gibson said. She handcrafts every single piece, sourcing the materials from vendors throughout Italy, Colorado, Los Angeles and Orange County to channel a “boho lux” vibe.

Thobe, who has been friends with Gibson for more than 15 years, launched her bikini company, Jaye Swim, three years ago while still a senior in high school. Every suit is manufactured in L.A. and reflects years spent observing the distinctiveness of beaches across the world.

“I have spent the majority of my childhood on a beach,” the Southern California native detailed in her company bio.

“From having my toes in the sand of Tairua, Tamarindo, Cabo, Maui, Oahu and in my home beaches of Huntington and Newport, I recognize each one of them has something in common. Beauty. Although the location, view and overall setting can be very different, each beach is equally beautiful in its own way.”

She draws the comparison of disparate but stunning ocean landscapes to women, explaining her goal is to “make bikinis to complement every type of girl and to highlight her beauty.”

If their passion for turning nature’s visual riches into wearable art inspires you (and it should) Jaye Swim and Choke Local styles are available in several stores: Salt Culture in Encinitas, Calif., Costa Cabana and Style Society in Newport Beach, Calif., Evey K Fashionliner in Denver, and Frame in Milan, Italy. (You can also shop their designs online at Choke Local or Jaye Swim and find them on Instagram @chokelocal and @jayeswim.)

Because while the pop-up was just that—it came and went like the tide—Gibson and Thobe plan to do more collaborative pop-ups, trunk shows and vintage markets soon. Both Choke Local jewelry and Jaye Swim bikinis were for sale in the makeshift pop-up, which was the result of a last-minute idea to create a shop on Gibson’s front porch.

“We painted signs and banners the night before, got our boyfriends to stroll around the pier and surrounding streets and tape the signs up … and had an awesome turnout,” Gibson said, noting “waves of people” came to buy the local goods. “We should have been doing this all summer!”

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