Bahamas meets Cape Cod

Cape Cod Life  /  July 2018 /

Writer: Haley Cote

SeaCoast Bags

A unique island fabric is the hallmark of SeaCoast Bags’ beach-inspired accessories

It all started with a trip to the Bahamas.

In 2011, Gail Welsh and her husband were living onboard their boat in The Abacos when she discovered Androsia Batik, a small, family-run fabric company based on the island of Andros. Welsh was so taken with their “wonderful” linens that she decided to purchase some batik fabric, bringing it back home to the states to her good friend from college, Sue Claire, an avid sewer. As they considered what to create out of the fabric, “A beach ditty bag was a pretty obvious choice,” Welsh says, “because the patterns just screamed ‘nautical.’” Not long after making their first bag, Welsh and Claire made their budding business, SeaCoast Bags, official, eventually selling in stores throughout Massachusetts and beyond.

SeaCoast’s signature drawstring ditty bags are all made of the Androsia Batik fabric, which SeaCoast imports to a factory in North Carolina to create the bags along with other seasonal fabrics. Available in three sizes and a variety of vibrant colors, each bag is imprinted with images of starfish, seahorses, beach shells or sea turtles. To create these designs, workers at Androsia Batik start with a cutout of a pattern on a sponge. “They have artists that will design a starfish, for example, and they mount it to a heavy wire screen so they can dip that part into hot wax,” Welsh explains. “Then they stamp the starfish in a random pattern—it changes every single time because it’s not done by machine, it’s done by hand. Once the wax is stamped, they dye the fabric… They wash that fabric three to four times in really hot water to get the wax out so that you’re then left with the imprint.”

To Welsh, the quality of Androsia Batik fabric is what makes it so special. “They stretch the fabric in the sun, and it just dries for days, so when we get it, it’s the best pre-shrunk fabric you could ever work with,” she says. “It won’t run, it won’t fade, and it won’t shrink,” making SeaCoast bags ideal for trips to the beach, as well as everyday outings. “It’s truly a reusable product, and they just get softer over time.”

In addition to ditty bags, SeaCoast also sells totes, tablecloths, pillows, keychains and wristlets featuring the Androsia Batik fabric. “It’s more about how to use this fabric, because we love it,” Welsh says of SeaCoast’s offerings. “It brings summer into your world year-round, which I think is a great thing.”

Welsh, who lives in Popponesset during the summer, recently opened SeaCoast’s first retail store, SeaCrets of Popponesset, in the hidden gem that is the New Seabury marketplace. “When we opened last year,” she recalls, “this girl walked into the store… She looked around and said, ‘Is this really a whole store of SeaCoast Bags?’ She was so excited! It just became a beach boutique.

“We’ve expanded into some clothing,” Welsh adds, “but everything comes back to making that trip to the beach a little bit more fun, starting with the beach bag.”

Haley Cote

Haley Cote is the assistant editor for Cape Cod Life Publications. A lifelong Cape Cod resident, Haley is an alumna of Barnstable High School and Cape Cod Community College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Suffolk University. When she’s not writing, this self-described “pop culture junkie” also loves discovering new music and catching up on the “Real Housewives.”