Kailah Ogawa Interview - Surfer Girl Collection
Kailah Ogawa is the artist behind our new and exclusive Surfer Girl Collection. We caught up with her to talk more about her designs, her background, and how surfing in Hawai‘i has influenced her life.
What was the design inspiration behind the Surfer Girl Collection and Kai specifically?
Grace, strength, and joy.
To enjoy surfing as a woman, means to be comfortable and confident in your skin among a male dominated sport. You learn to let go. You learn to dance among the changing conditions, and to cultivate a fluid yet broad relationship with nature. Most of all, surfing is at its best when it is fun—remembering that play is an essential part of what makes us human. There is freedom in spontaneity and creativity—as it opens up new ways of being in the world and clears out familiar ways to connect to one another. And what better time to remind us of this, than right now.
So: go surf. Slow down. Play. And Enjoy.
What is your background in art and design?
I’ve been lucky to have art and music be a part of my life as far as I can remember. My earliest memories involve singing to the radio, making the most of what we had, or freely exploring what was in our backyard — and I am very grateful to have been brought up in an environment that consistently encouraged this growth. Though my parents did not have creative careers, they are staunch advocators for hard work, curiosity, and following joy — which have become unshakeable principles in my creative life.
I discovered Graphic Design in my junior year of high school. Before then, I had no idea this career existed. The idea of making a living off of being creative never seemed possible (let alone, practical) especially being from a small town, in the middle of the ocean. But once it hit me: everything clicked, the stars aligned, it was love at first sight — whatever you want to call it — and, I never looked back. I got my BA in Graphic Design, and I’ve been lucky enough to pursue it as a career ever since. It’s not always easy, but last I checked… I’m still in love.
Where in Hawai‘i are you from?
I’m born and raised in Hilo, on Hawai'i Island. I moved away for college and have been living in Southern California for over 10 years. Though, I’m excited to say that I have made plans to move back home to Hilo soon.
Are you a surfer yourself?
Yes, I learned to surf from my father though, it wasn’t something I pursued on my own until high school. Since then, surfing has become my reset, my escape — a place that gives equal parts comfort and challenge. Leave it to the ocean to give you a good one on tough love, especially when you need it the most.
How did your own experience in Hawai'i influence the design of this collection?
You can take the girl out of the island, but you can’t take the island out of the girl.
My family is from Hawai’i, I grew up in Hawai’i, I am Native Hawaiian — it took some time to personally understand this, but everything I do is derivative of my upbringing from this special place. And with that, I am honored to share this special part of myself through this collection. Hawai’i is overflowing with life, but calmly expresses this with a vibrant sort of ease. It’s in the changing hues of the skyline, the light sweetness of the air, and the persistent movement of the tides. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of so intimately, especially when you’re out there surfing. I can only hope that a sliver of this comes through in our collection.