Rana Good is the founder of Naïra NYC. A writer for publications such as Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Coveteur, Mens Journal and others, she created her own platform celebrating women of color.
Julia Muniz and Mahina Florence grew up thousands of miles away from each other but lived parallel lives — both women spent their youth on the ocean, became avid surfers, and full-time models. A shoot in Tahiti brought the two of them together and a later trip to Indonesia inspired the idea for a swimwear label, Maoi.
Launching this month, Maoi is a size-inclusive and diverse brand, using ECONYL®️, regenerated nylon made from waste. The pieces are seamless, comfortable, and instant classics that never go out of style.
We spoke to Maoi’s founders about their creative process and how they want to inspire other women to pursue their dreams.
Tell me about when you first met, you had an instant connection. What do you two have in common?
When we first met in Tahiti, we had an instant connection, and it’s easy to explain why. We both grew up by the ocean, and we love ocean adventures. We were both full-time models at the time, and we had so many experiences to share with each other. We love to live a simple yet meaningful life and have a very active lifestyle. We both dream big about our happiness and future.
When and why did you decide to start a swimwear brand?
We started to dream about Maoi in Indonesia in 2018. We organized an all-women boat trip to the Mentawai islands in Indonesia, and during the trip, we had multiple talks on how we wish we could create the perfect swimwear and make it sustainable. We wanted to create a brand for our future and be able to educate women on sustainability topics while we too continue to grow and learn.
What does Maoi mean?
Maoi is meaningless. As human beings, we’re always changing and evolving. We want Maoi to have the freedom to be whatever you want. Maoi is eco-conscious, luxe, worldly, and inspired by the lifestyle of Hawaii and Brazil!
What’s the look and feel of your swimwear brand?
Maoi’s look is seamless and elevated. We wanted every woman to feel comfortable, sexy, and stylish in every design. We wanted to start small and design our favorite basics, and with time bring on new cuts and styles. Our designs are meant to be lifelong, and they don’t follow seasons.
How do you want to empower women of color with your brand?
We want to be the business owners our customers and followers see and get inspired by. We both come from a simple upbringing financially, and we want to show that anyone can succeed if you work hard, regardless of your color. We want to eliminate the stigma behind brown/ethnic business owners and show the world we can change this industry. We want to be the new normal — where if someone is successful or not, it’s not even a thought of race nor color.
What have been your experiences as women of color in the modeling industry?
We have both experienced lower wages compared to caucasian models and fewer opportunities in the fashion industry. We are grateful for our agencies and for everyone that has supported us in our modeling careers as we got to be a part of the industry shift. We have experienced racism through social media through comments, etc. On another note, we have both starred in memorable campaigns as well! We believe the fashion industry is slowly changing for the better and being more accepting of diversity.
You’re both models, what are your tips to pose in a bathing suit?
Elongation, confidence, and angles are essential! When you pose in a bathing suit, you want to make sure you feel confident. If you are not feeling confident, it will translate into your photos. Next is elongation; when you are in a bathing suit, you expose a lot of skin, which means you want to make sure you have proper posture. This will make your body look more elongated. Lastly is angles, also known as posing. Every model has their go-to poses, which means they know what angle makes them look the best. If you don’t know what your angles are, we suggest practicing it in the mirror (sounds silly, we know); this will help you to learn what poses works best for your body. Remember, you don’t always have to be so serious, have fun with it, be happy, and be confident.
What are your favorite beaches in the world?
Our home beaches, Hawaii, and Brazil! The connections we have with the oceans we grew up in have deeply rooted within us, for wherever we go, home follows.
Read our previous interview with Julia Muniz here