India and Luna are the two young girls behind Benoa Swim. They both were born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu. When you grow up on an island, it’s a well-known fact you’re in a bikini more than actual clothes. And when you’re wearing bikinis that much, you really get a decent sense of what you like and what you don’t. So, the girls started their own line after finding that too many of the bikinis out there were way too expensive, would fall apart in the water, or just weren’t exactly what they wanted. India and Luna started Benoa when they were just 15, and it’s beginning to take off. We had a chat with the girls about starting their own swim line and their new collection.
Where are you from? Where is Benoa based out of?
We were both born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu. Benoa swim is currently based out of my trailer in my backyard on the North Shore, but we are moving to our first office soon!
Who started Benoa? How old were you? When did you come out with your first collection?
My best friend Luna and I started Benoa when we were 15. We came out with our first collection “The Element Collection” in December 2013. It was all black and made up of 10 pieces. I think we did an order of 500 pieces, and we had no idea what we were doing, but we still have pieces in our new line from that collection. It was a fun little project. What inspired you to start a swim line?
I’ve always loved bikinis. When I was little, my mom and I would cut out paper bikinis and color them in with our own designs. As I got older I would see bikinis and want little things changed to better fit me. Growing up in Hawaii you basically live in a bikini, but they are expensive, fall apart, or are not exactly what you want. Luna and I always talked about creating a bikini line, and one day we finally sat down and did it. We designed the first collection together, but since then Luna has taken the reigns on design and me on the business side. We are a good match because we know that the other one is good at what they do, so we trust each other to do our part, but then we also crossover and help see another point of view for both the creative and operational sides.
What does Benoa mean?
We named our company Benoa because Benoa Harbor is the main harbor for imports & exports in Bali. It was important to us that Benoa Swim was about getting to new places, expanding what we have, and sharing it with new places and people. When we named Benoa we didn’t know what it meant, but recently in Bali, we were told Benoa means “little island” in Balinese, which was a huge relief. And oddly perfect being that we are from a little island, and the suits are made on a little island. Haha
What Sets Benoa apart from other swimwear lines?
I think it’s different because we were kids when we started it. We weren’t grown women who were trying to make a career, we wanted to have some fun, and it has slowly grown and changed to become something that people really like. Not only that but it’s about being functional, cute and confident in what you are wearing. I think that most bikini lines only give you one or the other. We want everyone who wears them to be able to be comfortable no matter what they are doing. As we’ve gotten older Benoa has grown with us, and it’s starting to become more what we want and what other people want too.
Tell us about your new Lotus Collection. What inspired the new line?
The lotus collection is our first collection that is really focused on function more than anything. It’s mostly neutrals and kind of the most “grown up” collection so far.. For me the Lotus collection was inspired by a piece of art my friend JP Olson did for me on my Longboard… He painted this gorgeous buddhist warrior over a lotus with the quote “No mud, No lotus.” I loved the idea behind the quote that “The secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not to run away from it.” I feel like we are embracing that we are young and don’t really know what we want or what we are doing quite yet, but are going to stick with this, and grow with it. Honestly, It’s been kinda scary dealing with transforming from kids to adults, graduating high school, and our company is transforming into what we want it to be. It seemed like the perfect way to connect us to the Brand.
Having grown up on the North Shore, you must have spent most of your life in a bikini, how do you think that has helped you when designing your suits for Benoa?
I honestly don’t think that we would have created Benoa if we didn’t live on North Shore. Growing up here we get to see how the fashion of bikinis is always changing. We are/were always in the water, and being a part of almost, if not, all water sports, so we have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t when you’re moving around. When I’m designing I like to tie in current fashion, and functionality into our suits.
Where do you see Benoa in 5 years?
It’s a huge question mark as of now. We’ve been working on Benoa for about 3 years now, but this kinda seems like it’s first real chance to thrive. Hopefully, in the next 5 years, we will have accounts all over the world and can expand to more of a label than just a swim line. I think one of the things that excites me for the future most is that girls who are wearing Acacia and Mikoh are buying our stuff, and those are the girls that we look up to…the Miller sisters, Lyndie and Naomi. It’s just a matter of finding out who we are as a brand and sticking with it now.
Photographs by Brooke Dombroski