Photography courtesy of Cassidy Lum.
I do not recall exactly how or when I first came upon Hawaiian surf wear brand Kini Surf Wear, but I do recall being quite intrigued. Fast forward a few months later, and I was talking to an acquaintance who mentioned that her friend created the fantastic Kini Surf Wear top that she was wearing proudly. I decided to get in touch with Cassidy Lum, the talented seamstress responsible for all the locally handmade goodness, and hear a little bit of her story. So, ladies – and gentlemen too – here it is!
Will you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up on O’ahu with a passion for the ocean. Drawn in by its beauty, depth, and power, I have become one of the happiest ocean lovers on the planet. I enjoy being outdoors, day dreaming, and have always been a dreamer.
How was Kini Surf Wear born?
At just shy of five feet tall, I had a difficult time finding any bikinis that both fit and flattered my body. I asked around and found out that I wasn’t alone. That’s when I thought I had found my niche. It all started with a $40 sewing machine and a trip to Kaimuki Dry Goods for some fabric. My work space was about as big as a queen sized bed, and I just made it work. Thankfully, things have really flourished from there.
Have you always had this knack for creativity?
I think my creativity was spawned from function and practicality. For example, my Sea Legs surf leggings were designed to stay on and keep the sun off.
With its origins on the beautiful island of O’ahu, each piece being lovingly handmade, Kini has plenty going for it. How would you describe your creations and what sets them apart?
My handmade creations are a blend of form and function designed to keep you covered when the elements are working against you. I really believe in quality and customer satisfaction, and I believe that having a business that is able to effectively communicate with individual customers is personally satisfying.
If you could design a bikini based on your personality, how would it look?
Good question. It would definitely have good flow to it because flow is the key to good style, whether it be fashion or surfing. It would have the blues and greens of the ocean and sky and somehow capture the warmth of the sun.
What inspires you?
Other independent business owners who can seek joy in making a quality product which their customers appreciate are truly inspiring.
When you are faced with challenges, how do you find the strength to just keep swimming, swimming, swimming?
I keep my head up, step back for a second, and re-evaluate the situation. I realize that things could be a lot worse, and I am fortunate to have the challenges that will, in turn, make me a better and stronger person.
Has anyone ever given you words of wisdom that left a lasting impact?
My boyfriend always reminds me that “it could be worse” when I start to get stressed out and overwhelmed. It reminds me to think about all the blessings I have in my life and to be grateful because there are people in this world that have it worse than me.
If you could do anything you could dream up and not fail, what would you do?
I would travel the world searching for the next perfect warm water longboarding wave, leaving a trail of cute bikinis for the locals at each stop.
Where can ladies go to learn more about the brand and get some Kini Surf Wear of their own?
Maddie Buresh is a writer and photographer with an unquenchable desire to explore the great outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains. She finds joy in trying new things, living in community, and crafting stories that encourage people to go outside, have adventures, and enjoy this big, beautiful world.