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to make clothes for my dolls and gifts for my friends and family. I spent a lot of time making and creating alone as a young girl,” says Malia. So, it wasn’t a problem when she set out to make her own swimwear. This evolved into creating pieces for family and friends, which grew to taking orders for people who heard about her custom designs, and by 2012, she was running a full-fledged business. It didn’t hurt that the Big Island resident, who was born and raised on Oÿahu, spent most of her life in the ocean swimming, surfing or sailing. Wearing swimsuits all day, every day, led to an understanding of their functionality, which continues to play a significant role in her business savvy and success today. “I worked years just experimenting with flattering styles that would fit with a super comfort, but also could wear actively,” she says. Moreover, while Malia attended Maryland Institute College of Art, she spent plenty of time working with the human form studying sculpture. She even expands upon her product’s accommodation to the human form by creating reversible swimsuits that offer adjustable looks to increase the swimsuit’s longevity. The Kona top, Onda bottoms and Lace Up Monokini are a few of the styles that integrate her many concepts of multi-functionality. “These designs fit your body without digging in and restricting,” she says. “Instead it has a flattering, comfortable look that makes every person that tries them on feel amazed and beautiful within their own body.” Another aspect that drives the uniqueness of Malia’s brand is that she uses Brazilian fabric hand-selected during her annual trip to Brazil to visit her husband’s family. The material is antibacterial with UV protectant, and is 66

lightweight and soft, making it comfortable enough to be worn all day. “It doesn’t deteriorate,” says Malia. “The softness is unmatched to any textile I have found.” Swimsuit orders and measurements are made online with a live chat feature that allows customers to ask immediate questions. Or, customers can visit PIKAI’s retail space in Kailua-Kona, which provides an opportunity to see color combinations and prints, such as florals, in-person. Here, customers can also try on different types of designs, as well as bottom coverage—thong, cheeky, moderate, and full—in one or two-piece styles, before placing a custom order. The store also offers collections ready for purchase in case customers don’t have time to wait for something tailormade. Inventory at PIKAI also includes leggings, bodysuits, rash guards and active wear made with the same high-quality material as the suits, for easy transition from sea to land. To grow from working in a spare room by herself in her home to having a production space above a storefront with a team of dedicated female employees who help bring an uplifting swimsuit experience to other women, brings Malia great joy. “We don’t convince women they need to alter themselves. Every time I see someone try on a suit, you can see their self-love radiate and glow. They have something that was made for them, their body, and their needs,” says Malia. “All of our customers leave with a whole new positive perspective of self-love and confidence.” PIKAI Swim Hawaii is open from 11am to 5pm Monday thru Saturday and is located at 74-5604 Luhia Street in Kona. Visit or call (808) 315-1848 for more information. BIG ISLAND TRAVELER

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