The incredible mermaid/surfer/designer/global traveller/model who hails from Tahiti, French Polynesia, Hanalei Reponty chats with us about her life on the road, her eight year career in modeling. her swimwear label Abysse, the fitness regime that keeps her in shape and how she keeps her famous long sun-bleached mane in top notch condition!
How did you get into modeling?
Growing up on a tiny island like Tahiti, surrounded by perfect crystal clear waves, was paradisiac. I have never dreamt of being a model, all I wanted to do was surf. I started surfing professionally around the age of 15 & travelled the world with my main sponsor at the time- Ripcurl. At 17, they asked me to become the face of the brand, and be their muse; so I went on shooting all their campaign, as well as magazine promotions, interviews, etc… and that is how it all started, through my love of the Ocean.
What has been your favourite job so far?
Last year I got to shoot in the Sahara desert with one of my favorite photographers ever (Jennifer Stenglein) for The Lane. It was as badass as it could be, such an adventure. We landed in Marrakech, drove 10 hours in a tiny car with all our baggages on the roof, and camped in the middle of Sahara desert, surrounded by camels and red earth. We got caught up in a sandstorm during our shoot, and we kept shooting. I danced with the locals, rolled down dunes, and felt as free as I have ever been. At the end of the day, we all had sand everywhere, even in our teeth. I remember laying at night and seeing all the stars in the galaxy, while listening to the locals singing around the fire. It was breathtaking.
What do you love most about modeling?
The adventure. The journey. The traveling. The people you meet along the way.
You have your own swimwear label, Abysse (which we LOVE!), tell us a bit about this.
Creating Abysse has been a dream of my own since a very long time. After surfing for Ripcurl, it made me want to create a brand of my own, which was based on my values especially towards the environment, in order to empower women all over the world. I wanted to create a brand that stood for something that I believed in. The wetsuits are hand made in California out of Limestone based neoprene, which the most eco-friendly solution of the 21st century. It has been an amazing journey, supporting athletes that have a deep love for the ocean. Every girl, no matter what shape and size, culture or background, has the right to feel beautiful, especially while doing what she loves.
If you could do a shoot anywhere, with any international photographer for any brand what would it be?
Oh gosh. That is a hard one. Peter Lindbergh in Tahiti, for the love of doing photography, not for a brand.
If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?
My whole life, I wanted to be a doctor. But my life came at cross roads, where I understood that if I did that, I would not be traveling for a good 10 years. So, I went into business school instead. If I wasn’t modeling, I don’t know where I would be, but I would like to think that I would be right where I am, trying to be an entrepreneur and help people and the environment along the way.
You have an absolutely INCREDIBLE body, how do you stay in shape?
First of all, it is a lot genetic. I have always been skinny, no matter what I eat. When I was a kid, I would eat nutella, everyday, on everything. I did 13 years of Karate that shaped my body to be strong and muscular. I am a very active person. I love being outdoors. I spend a lot of time surfing, especially because my boyfriend is a pro-surfer, so we are always in the water. I do a lot of pilates & yoga for the core and stretching. It is like maintenance for your body, it feels amazing. I love going on walks, or anything that sounds fun.
Being in the water! Surfing, Stand Up Paddling, Swimming...
Secret cheat food?
Where would someone find you on a Friday night?
Either at the restaurant, in front of movie, or snuggled up in bed! Unless it is New Years and I will be dancing all night!
You are also a bit of a surfer, does this connection with the ocean important in your life?
Yes, it is. I lived in New York for a couple of months last year, and I was missing the Ocean so much. I had to move back to California. You can never take the island out of the girl...
Tell us about your beauty regime…. In particular how you look after that INCREDIBLE hair!
I use KERASTASE products for my hair, they are my saving grace! From the Bio oil to the masque intense, all their products are fantastic, and that is all I will ever use in my hair. #obsessed
What does the future hold for Hanalei?
A lot of traveling, a lot of fun, a lot of wetsuits, and whatever the universe sends my way!
Finish this sentence.
I can’t live without… my loved ones, the ocean, some sunshine and a ton of positive energy.
I can’t stop listening to… Arcade Fire.
My favourite person in the world is… Rell Sunn for her grace, for helping others, Sylvia Earle for her dedication to the ocean, Patrick Gudauskas for his love and my parents and brother for making me who I am (and because they are so freaking badass!)
I will never forget… my childhood.
Summer is all about… sunburnt skin, smell of wax, warm water, salty hair, surfed out!
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