A Bi-Coastal Balance - Following Aloha with Surfer and Designer Kahana Kalama
If there’s anything that the new generation of creatives can teach us as they journey through life, it’s that balance is everything. You don’t have to be tied to one lifestyle, one genre, one locale. You can blend the town with the trail and the rugged with the refined, and in Kahana Kalama’s case, his Hawai‘i home with a hip San Diego borough.
Born and raised in the windswept beach town of Kailua on the island of O‘ahu, Kahana and close friend Billy Wickens founded Aloha Beach Club (formerly known as Aloha Sunday Supply Co.) in 2011, a clothing and retail concept offering an assortment of contemporary designer products that embody their commitment to all things surf and ethical manufacturing. It’s a shop that fits well in the hip and walkable urban community of North Park, a neighborhood in San Diego that shares Kahana’s values and ethos.
“I just really like personable, thoughtful people,” Kahana says. “The conscientious customer—the customer that really digs into a product and doesn’t want to buy something just because everyone has it, but more because it has a story, and they vibe with that story behind the product.”
If you ask Kahana, he’ll tell you that it’s always been one of his dreams to be able to spend more time on both sides of the Pacific. He’s formed a bridge of sorts to connect the roots of the brand and his continuous source of inspiration to his family’s home in California and his friends located throughout the rest of the world.
So how did a local kid from Kailua get to North Park, San Diego? “I was that kid that grew up surfing and skating, but didn’t really hang out with the skaters and surfers,” recalls Kahana. He found common ground and consensus with the graphic designers and people in advertising firms, charities, and nonprofit organizations. Kalama stayed in San Diego after college and moved to North Park, where he began working with the brands that sponsored him for surfing.
“Really, all my experiences come from Hawai‘i as a kid,” he says. “I grew up on the East Side and kids over there hated on Town for being so crowded. But me, I loved going over there and seeing how they dressed, I got a kick out of it—the ‘international costumes.’ Not to mention, when I was young I was super small and whenever there was a dress-up function, I had nothing to wear. So I’d have to wear my dad’s stuff, which of course was always so huge on me. All I ever wanted was some good-fitting clothes.”
Thus, Aloha Beach Club was born. Kahana has focused on his surf boutique for the better part of a decade, with its flagship location in North Park and pop-up locations on O‘ahu. Of course, it’s not Kahana’s only gig. An ambassador for various brands, as well as a creative director, Kahana still finds ample time to surf, hang with his gorgeous young family, and to return to the Islands for quality time with his ‘ohana. All in perfect balance.