Surf Bikinis Handmade with Love – Interview with Rose from Graffiti Bikinis

Rose from Graffiti Bikinis

It was really nice to interview the talented surf bikinis designer Rose from Graffiti Bikinis. Rose is the person that easily has the perfect beach lifestyle. She lives in the beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii, and spends her days between surfing and making beautiful surf bikinis. Her handmade bikinis collection is amazing with designs that are functional for an active lifestyle with a fix and look that is unique and flattering. Her bikinis are created out of a love for ocean sports, great for surfing and for other water sports.


What influenced your choice to begin designing swimwear? Did you spend a lot of time at the beach as a child or holiday somewhere beautifully exotic before taking a leap into the designing spectrum?

I actually grew up in Colorado (which is landlocked) and was initially into snowboarding and skateboarding. I learned to sew and design in high school.  I hand made everything from snowboard pants and jackets to skate/streetwear and bikinis. After high school I did some traveling which led me to Kauai. I thought I’d stay for a few months but have been in Hawaii now for over 15 years. I continued sewing and making my own swimwear which led my friends to ask me to make their bikinis too. From there my designs spread and it became a business.


Living in Hawaii I’m sure you’d be surrounded by countless design inspiration, from colours to textures to cuisine – is this the case and if so what inspires you most.

Definitely living on Kauai is a constant inspiration. From the vibrant colours of the mountains to the beautiful ocean blues, sea creatures and reef. I am surrounded by beauty.  My greatest design inspiration is the ocean and ocean lifestyle. It is our livelihood in Hawaii. Life pretty much revolves around the beach (literally- being on an island). I am inspired to make swimwear that you can wear all day for any activity. From swimming to surfing, or just lying on the beach and throwing a dress over it to go in the store. We live in swimwear. Bikinis in Hawaii is like Shoes for women who live in big cities, you really can never have too many.


Considering every aspect of designing swimwear, which (for you) is considered to be the most fun?

The most fun aspect of designing swimwear is getting to surf in it. The best feeling is paddling out riding waves in a comfortable and nice fitting bikini that I made from start to finish.


surf bikinis

surf bikinis

Your bikinis are functional for being active on the beach as well as swimming – was this always an intention during your designing process and do you cater for a an audience who are enjoy activity as well as relaxing when at the beach.

In general my bikinis are geared towards the active customer. However, most everybody likes to relax and the beach as well- so I definitely offer non-active bikinis too. For example, a strapless top isn’t necessarily going to be someone’s choice for swimming or running- but it’s great to relax in a strapless top and they are the best for lesser tan lines.


The bikini you have advertised via Aquazy at the moment is a beautiful blood orange like colour – can we expect brighter, exciting colours during your next collection?

Yes, I am always incorporating bright colours and prints into my swimwear. Since bikinis are a relatively small clothing item I feel you can use very bright colours and loud prints that might be a bit overwhelming in pants or a dress. Because the bikini is less fabric the bold colours stand out nicely.


What does a typical 9 – 5 day look like for you? From the perspective of a swimwear designer.

Usually I’ll wake up around 7 and if there are waves I would generally surf first thing.  After surfing I’ll eat breakfast and reply to emails. The majority of the day is spent sewing and designing. By late afternoon I’ll go into the post office to mail any orders going out. Then, I’ll usually do some computer work and try to take a walk or swim (something active) right before sunset. When the waves aren’t as good I can get more sewing and work done, that way I can work a bit less when the surf is really good.


Do you enjoy wearing your own designs and if so how do you feel when wearing them? – Proud – Excited – Comfortable.

Yes, I love wearing my own designs. I feel proud that I made them myself and always comfortable because that is what is most important to me when in a bikini.


Do you intend on branching our business to any other countries or are you currently selling elsewhere other than Hawaii and Australia?

Because I focus on online sales I sell my bikinis all over the world. That is the great thing about internet businesses – people from all over the globe can find my bikinis, people that otherwise might  never make it to a boutique in Hawaii.  I’ve mailed bikinis to Ireland, Malta, Peru, Russia, Indonesia, Norway and the list goes on and on.


Are there any Australian or International designers who influence / inspire your own designing, from fabrics to silhouettes etc?

In Australia I really love what Spell and MisterZimi are both doing. Spell is very beautiful and feminine and Misterzimi has such inspiring prints and bold ideas. As far as other international designers – I love Emilio Pucci. I love everything from his silhouettes and prints to his creativity.


Where is your favourite beach and why?

My favorite beach is Tunnels Beach on Kauai – because it is beautiful, peaceful and just a short stroll from my house.


tunnels beach kauai

Tunnels Beach Kauai – taken from

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

“Health is Wealth”.  I don’t know who said it, but for me – health in every aspect of my life (from the food I eat, to my relationships, to my state of mind) is true wealth.  I consider it an inspirational quote because it inspires me to live a healthy lifestyle and keep my priorities straight.


What is your favourite colour?

My favourite colour is a very deep but bright royal blue that is almost purple. It is the colour of the ocean when you are really deep water.


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Sarah McLean

About Sarah McLean

Hey there, I’m Sarah and earlier this year I made the leap from Tasmania to Sydney to pursue further education at The Fashion Institute. This year I made it my personal goal to gain as much experience across all facets of the fashion industry as possible, which has since seen me partake in events such as the David Jones A/W launch, Fashion Palette and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia just to name a few. With an undeniable love for fashion writing I hope to share with you my style expertise and swimwear must haves as best I can. In my leisure I enjoy buying shoes and drinking coffee at Gnome Café, Surry Hills with my fabulous friends.

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