Cavanba is the Indigenous Minjungbal word for “the meeting place” and was originally the name of the area and town now called Byron Bay. Recognised as the traditional custodians of the surrounding coastal land, the Bunjalung nation (made up of 13 or 14 tribal groups, including the Minjungbal) has been associated with this northern region for at least 22,000 years. While it sometimes feels like half of New Zealand is living in Australia, it`s refreshing to meet an Aussie lass who happened to live a fair few years on the other side of the Ditch. Aptly, it`s here in Byron that I meet Alana: entrepreneur, accounts whizz and surfer.
Hey lady, you spent nearly a decade living in NZ. How did you find yourself being in reverse to the norm of the Kiwi migration to Australia? I used to get asked constantly why I was living in New Zealand, the truth is I love the place, the people, the ruggedness, the honesty of it all. I think I found my self in New Zealand and I wouldn’t have moved back to Australia if it wasn’t for a certain kiwi boy who just so happened to live in one of Australia’s most beautiful places, Byron bay. The opportunties here are a bit better and the surf is awesome, it’s nice to ditch the wetty for a few months of the year! Can’t say I don’t think of New Zealand every day though, I miss it but Byron is a fantastic place to be right now.
Any long-suffering Aussie-digga jokes or hassles with your accent? Only stacks on while the rugby was playing, pretty funny seeing I can’t even understand the game but there were a few dead legs when the Kiwi’s would kick the Aussies ass in the world cup!
Where did you get to surf in NZ, any favourite spots? I surfed in Muriwai, it is pretty hectic, heavy waves and mad sweeps that take you into the rocks but that’s why I loved it, apart from the occasional walk of shame! (paddle for an hour just to get swept back to the shore without a wave under your belt!)
You`ve launched your own bikinis-for-surfing line, Surfkini. Tell us about your “a-ha” moment that inspired you to create…It was one day surfing of course, after buying many bikini’s that didn’t stand up to the challenge of the ocean, I thought I could design ones that stayed on and still looked good. The idea was born, the designs were drawn and the rest was bits of luck, perserverance and people I knew.
R+D for the swimwear must`ve been tough – where and how did you go about this process?? R+D was my favorite part!! I got to surf and test them out so I loved it! I pulled in as many of my chick mates to help me out, we duck dived, pulled in and out of big waves, got dunked and surfed until the perfect designs had been created. I knew I wanted top quality materials so I researched the highest grade Lycra and ordered it from Italy, then sourced the woven elastic that makes the surfkini different to the rest.
What have been some challenges for launching your own business? And how have you overcome these? I guess the biggest challenge is money, if I had a money tree the process would have been ten times faster and easier but I’ve always loved a challenge and it just made it more satisfying when I achieved my goals. I set small goals for myself so when I went bigger or harder I felt like I had achieved so much more! I have had to keep a full time job the whole time to support my business adventure so a supportive boyfriend and lots of coffee also helped, some days are long and stressful but you have to power through and keep your eyes on the prize.
And the best parts of being your own boss? I love the feeling of someday being able to be self sufficient and if the surf is on, I start at 11am.
Any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs out there? Keep positive, I felt like the only times I wanted to throw it all in I just had to take a deep breath and believe in myself, staying positive is the key. Your mind is a very powerful tool!
How do you see female surfwear shaping up these days? Female surfing is taking off in a big way, it is the fastest growing sport at the moment and chicks are ruling, they are going as big as the boys so the surfwear available is also improving and it can only get better!
Who and what inspires you? I think success is a big inspiration, not just financial success but the feeling of achievement you get when you succeed in something, whether it is catching a wave you were scared of or getting to your goals you have set out in life. The people that inspire me are people who have made something of their lives against all odds.
What`s one piece of advice you`ve been given that`s resonated with you? MMMM, my Dad’s words of wisdom said in a thick Italian accent – “ Everay daay in everay waay you getta better anda better and better”
Favourite surf destination so far? Canggu in Bali, I love those lefts!
Any surf spots/countries yet to check out? I would love to explore Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Maldives. I would love to find waves surfed by locals on dug out slabs of tree!
What`s on your bucket list? So many things, learn how to play guitar, take 6 months travelling through South and Central America, be a millionaire and grow my own wine! Just to name a few.
So where can we find Surfkini? Surfkini can be found in stores in Byron Bay, Noosa, Palm Beach, Lennox Head and Crecent Head, the stockist page on my website will give you all the details. Also through the Surfkini online store.
* Alana Martinero is the Founder and Designer behind her label, Surfkini, here in Byron Bay, Australia. All photographs courtesy of Alana and her team of photographers. If you are interested in contacting Alana, please click here.