Growing up in Hawaii, a deep-rooted connection to the ocean is embedded in your DNA. For Mahina Florence, the sea is her second home, and anytime she travels too far from it, her "mind, body and soul start to crumble."
My parents had me in the ocean since I was a baby and, on a surfboard, before I could walk. If I am away from the ocean for an extended period of time, my mind, body, and soul start to crumble, it sounds dramatic, but it's true, haha. I can't be away from the ocean or a body of water for too long.
Whether traveling the globe, modeling in the latest Outerknown campaign, or running her own business with her father, waterman legend Kai Garcia, Mahina is never too far from her favorite beloved body of water. We caught up with the Hawaii-born waterwoman after our Spring/Summer '23 shoot to hear more about her story.
What was your favorite part about growing up in Hawaii?
Growing up in and around the ocean, riding bikes around the North Shore with my friends, and just playing barefoot outside from sunrise to sunset. It was a very special and unique upbringing.
Surfing and living in Hawaii seem synonymous, and I see from lots of photos that you're an incredible longboarder!
You are so kind. Thank you! I don't consider myself an incredible longboarder because I haven't had as much free time as others to practice any tricks, so when I do surf, I don't put pressure or stress on myself to be the best. I just go out and have fun, especially if my friends are out with me. I grew up surfing and still surf, but I have always had an incredibly busy life between sports in high school, traveling, modeling, and running side businesses. I don't always have time to spend hours every day in the ocean surfing, but I try my hardest to get in the ocean and surf as much as possible.
I don't remember the first time I learned to surf because I was on a surfboard before I could remember, which is a common thing here in Hawaii, especially in the Hawaiian culture.
Speaking of modeling, we were so stoked to work with you for our latest Spring 2023 photo shoot–you were absolutely stunning! How did you first get into the modeling world?
That's very sweet of you to say, Mahalo! I started modeling at 15 years old. I was scouted here on Island by a woman named Shawna, who used to model herself and had started her own agency. She introduced me to agents in LA, Miami, and New York, and that's when I started booking work outside of Hawaii, which led me to travel a lot and stay in each city for months on end. I honestly love every aspect of modeling, from my incredible clients to the crews, the locations, the creativity, the clothes, and the money. I love it all.
That's amazing! We love that your sense of adventure expands in so many directions from surfing to modeling and beyond. At Outerknown, we're always encouraging folks to get offline, embrace adventure, and "Find Their Outerknown"aka what drives their passion. So, what is your Outerknown?
Oh la la, I love this "Finding Your Outerknown." I feel it's a very important thing to discover. Indulging in the great outdoors is my Outerknown! For as long as I live, I will always indulge in nature and adventure.
Nothing beats the great outdoors. We also love elevating the voices of those that inspire us to be better humans. Do you have any role models or individuals that inspire you?
I look up to anyone who is kind, genuine, humble, supportive of others, takes risks, and works hard.
Aside from endlessly chasing adventure, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. How do you try to lower your impact on the environment in your daily life?
I appreciate you holding sustainable practices and beliefs close to your heart. Five things I do to lower my impact on the environment that you could start doing as well if you haven't already: --
- Turn off all the lights and fans.
- Unplug phone chargers from the wall when they are not needed.
- Take shorter showers or turn off the water when you're in the process of shampooing your hair and washing your body.
- Leftovers are the best! Don't throw food out just because you're bored.
- If you shop at bulk item stores and feel you can't get through all your produce before it goes bad, consider splitting your grocery run with a family member or friend.
- Ride your bike, walk, or carpool to places as much as you can.
- Shop and buy sustainable clothing and items when and where you can. You'd be surprised. The quality of sustainable items, especially clothing, is usually higher-end, more durable, and longer lasting than non-sustainable fabrics and materials.
What's on the horizon for you? Any upcoming trips or projects?
Thankfully, my modeling books have been consistent, so I'll be wherever my clients send me. Meanwhile, we are about to start our summer travels for surfing, and we're hoping to go back to Tahiti and Bali this year. As far as projects go, my father, Kai Garcia, and I started a company called One Hawaii, which is rooted in Hawaii with an emphasis on function first and foremost, creating hardware for jet skis that allows our users to perform seamlessly outdoors in their elements. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I'm stoked to be working with my dad to create accessories and gear that align with our lifestyle.
See more of Mahina Florence in our new Spring/Summer ‘23 campaign, and shop her Outerknown favorites HERE.