Spotlight: Making Waves with Model, Surfer and Designer Hanalei Reponty


Meet Hanalei Reponty.

Tahiti-born professional surfer-turned-model-turned swimwear designer, who has been dubbed a real-life mermaid. With her luscious blonde locks and deep love of the ocean, it’s not hard to see why!

After touring the World with sponsor Ripcurl, Hanalei founded eco-friendly swimwear label, Abysse, with her mum Raphaele and the pair have grown the brand into a global phenomenon. Through the label, Hanalei works hard to raise awareness about the impact our modern-day lives have on the ocean. "The core of Abysse is determined by its love and respect to the environment and everything that surrounds us." 

And to top off this long list of incredible achievements, Hanalei has recently collaborated on a new stunning surfboard design with global surf brand Haydenshapes. We’re super excited to chat with Hanalei about this inspiring new project, plus life in Tahiti, travelling the world, inspirations and lots more!


At CSK, we’re obsessed with beach life and the ocean and are HUGE fans of your instagram! How does being in the ocean make you feel?

Source: @hanaleireponty

Source: @hanaleireponty

Being in the ocean makes me feel truly alive. Once you jump in, everything else goes away, you truly are at the mercy of Mother Nature and its inhabitants. The ocean is pure joy. The feeling of letting all go, you have to be present will being in the ocean. You have to be in this moment. It's beautiful. The closeness to nature is what I love the most, making me feel so small in such a big universe, making me feel so grateful.


What was it like growing up in Tahiti?

Growing up in Tahiti was truly like growing in Paradise (or at least my version of paradise). Surrounded by beauty, nature and the ocean. Everywhere you look to colors are so vivid, so saturated. The nature is around you, a part of your daily life, and you can't help but stare and love the ocean that brings so much life to our island. Island life is very convivial, everyone knows each other and there is a true sense of community. The main town of Papeete is a small town, which means that growing up no one really cared about fashion or anything of the sort; the only thing that mattered was being in a bikini on the beach. Growing up on small island gave me so much love for our environment, and preserving it. It also taught me respect, respect your elders and respect your land. 


You have travelled the globe for surfing and modelling, how do you think this has shaped who you are today?

Traveling the world has immensely shaped who I am today. Discovering different cultures, different lands, different people. Understanding that we are all the same. Making friends along the way, which make me feel at home pretty much anywhere I go. I believe that I am a child of the universe, and I love that. Traveling just makes you understand that there is no 'perfect' or 'better', that there is beauty everywhere you look, and beautiful is different everywhere.


You own the incredible swimwear label, Abysse, with your mum, Raphaele. Tell us a bit about the brand, how you got started and what it’s like to create something with your family?

Abysse started 3 years ago with the idea of creating a brand that would align with my beliefs: creating sustainable products that would align fashion and function into one being. I have always dreamt of making products that would be for women, to empower women, and for them to feel good in their skin while being in the ocean. It has been such an a amazing journey to work with my mum, we have such a strong bond as mother and daughter and now as business partners. We trust each other and she backs me all the way. I love her!


We love that your beautiful products are eco-friendly, how do you source your materials?

My main goal while starting Abysse was to create sustainable quality products made in the USA. Through a lot of research we found amazing materials that fit our need. We use 100% neoprene made out of limestone, which is the eco friendliest version of normal neoprene (made usually out of petrol). We use material for our bikinis and activewear that has been recycled via repurposing ghost fishing nets that have been discarded in the ocean. We love using these materials that are sustainable. Everyone can make a difference.


Who is your biggest inspiration?

I love Jenna de Rosnay. She is one of my biggest inspiration. She was an amazing windsurfer from the 80s, turned model, turned entrepreneur. I also am obsessed with Sylvia Earle, an amazing marine biologist, explorer and all around bad ass woman!

Photo: Courtesy of Haydenshapes

Photo: Courtesy of Haydenshapes

What does a typical day on a plate look like for you?

It totally depends of where I am in the world! I usually eat a light breakfast, toast and fruit salad. I love eating sandwiches for lunch, and yummy dinners. I love Italian food, so pasta or pizza is a favorite of mine. If I am in the tropics I will try to eat as much fish and fruits as humanely possible!


What’s your favourite form of exercise (other than surfing!)?

Lately I have been really into Pilates and Yoga. It is an amazing form of exercise for your core and at the same time makes me feel relaxed and happy.


You’re an ambassador of Haydenshapes - what does this partnership mean to you?

This partnership means the world to me. I love Hayden and Danielle so dearly, they are both amazing humans that I am so happy to have them in my corner. Haydenshapes is such an amazing brand that stands for all the values I believe in: performance, aesthetics, story telling; which is why it was such a great fit to work together.


Tell us about the beautiful new surf board print and how can we get our hands on one?

We all felt that Abysse and HS were such a strong collaboration, with the same eye and DNA. We both aim to take our customer on a journey, with a sense of technical element that makes our products top quality, while having a touch of style and fashion infused in our products. We came up with putting the Abysse's iconic 'stingray' print on a board, using its masculine feminine duality & clean aesthetic that represents so well both brands; and adding a touch to my love for the ocean. I absolutely love the design and how it came out! You can order one at Haydenshapes, and even customize it to your own dimensions!


You’ve achieved a huge amount already and we’re excited to see what’s next! Have you got anything in the pipeline?

Always! I can't wait to launch my 2018 ccollection which is going to be an amazing revival of the 80s. 

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