In the midst of all the craziness of the past couple of weeks, I chatted with Helena, Chief Bikini Officer of bikini company MI OLA, about bikinis, surfing, and living in Costa Rica. Check out the interview below and chicas, check out MI-OLA.com for some pretty awesome suits that stay put!
Mi Ola: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
Kristen Brown: At first glance, a lot of people think I am from California with my beach blonde hair, my height, and love for surfing. But I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey, a hop, skip and jump away from New York City. Although I did not grow up on the beach, I was always close to a body of water…rivers, lakes or beaches. I grew up sailing the Hudson River and the beach to me was the Long Island Sound. No wonder I did not know that there were surfable waves on the East Coast until I visited Montauk five years ago! I have lived in Rhode Island, Georgia, Spain, New York City, and I now call Tamarindo, Costa Rica home.
MO: What brought you to Costa Rica? How long have you lived here?
KB: Well…I was suppose to go visit my friend in Spain, but I caught the surfing bug. In the midst of planning to go to visit my friend, I saw an ad for a surf camp here in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and two days later, I bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica. That was exactly three years ago. Right after my trip to Tamarindo, I bought another ticket to go back three months later. It was during that trip that I decided I was going to quit my corporate banking job in New York City and move to Tamarindo. Seven months later I was all packed up and on a plane to Costa Rica to work for surf legend and shaper, Robert August. That was almost two years ago. Crazy how the time has flown by!
MO: When did you start surfing?
KB: I took my first lesson three years ago in Rockaway, New York. It was love at first wipeout.
MO: What is your favorite wave(s)?
KB: I love waking up in the morning, rolling out of bed and surfing my home break, the Rivermouth in Tamarindo. My other two favorite waves are Avellanas and Ollie’s Point.
MO: We usually see you out surfing on a longboard. Tell us more!
KB: When I first moved to Costa Rica, working for Robert August, I had a quiver of longboards to chose from. I still was learning to go left and right, and since I am pretty tall, using a longboard made more sense than trying to step down in size. I rode a longboard everyday for almost a year and fell in love with the smooth ride of a longboard. Since then, I have gradually been stepping down from a 7’6″ to a 6’2″. But, board selection all depends on the wave conditions and where I am surfing. If the waves say longboard, I longboard!
MO: Any tips for women that are just starting to surf?
KB: Be safe and aware of your surroundings! Make sure you understand surf etiquette and if you are at a new break, be sure to ask a local of any hazards.PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Use a board that will help you catch as many waves as possible, even if that means using a bigger board. And, don’t be afraid to be a little assertive. It drives me nuts when I see a guy take a wave from a chica!
MO: Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay so fit?
KB: Two words: Jiu Jitsu. I started training in February and besides sweating half of my body weight in class, Jiu Jitsu is great for cross training, not to mention awesome for self defense! I also try to practice yoga at home a couple times of week to keep me limber and to prevent injuries.
MO: What do you do in your free time?
KB: Surf, surf, and surf! Well, that is what my family and friends back in the US think I do all day…BUT in my free time I am working! I do social media for this awesome bikini company called MI OLA, photograph, write on my blog, design and sell a line of postcards and notecards called Samba to the Sea Designs, and in my real free time, chase sunsets on the beach!
MO: What is your favorite thing about your Mi Ola suit? What are your favorite styles?
KB: HA! Helena has to keep me away from the samples because I love all the suits! My favorite pieces are the reversible wrap top, the boy short bottom (so comfortable!!!), the Tira top in cobalt because it is the color of the Brazilian flag, and the Pescado rash guard because I feel like a mermaid when I wear it. Oh, and I don’t have to worry about giving any free shows in the lineup 😉 !
MO: Any cool stories about MI OLA?
KB: I wear MI OLA in all of my adventures….cannonballing 20 feet into a friends pool, cliff jumping, surfing, doing flips off a catamaran. The suits stays on. Period.
MO: As an active chica, what are a couple of things that you can’t live without?
KB: My green Nalgene waterbottle, my yoga mat, Nikon DSLR camera, panalito/sunscreen, sunglasses, deep conditioner, and a hat.
MO: It really sounds like you’re “living the dream!” Any surprises, once you moved to Costa Rica – in dealing with the tropical weather or culture?
KB: It is all about following your heart! Although I live in a Spanish speaking country, Tamarindo is a very diverse community and I find myself speaking English way more than I would like to. I also used to love to go to the beach to hang out, but now I hide from the sun during the day, unless I am out in the water surfing!
MO: What do you appreciate most about living in Costa Rica?
KB: I love being able to live in the present and enjoy life. I used to work on the 24th floor in a cubicle in New York City and now my office is anywhere I have a computer or camera. When I was a little kid I dreamed about living at the beach and now it is right down the street. How lucky am I?! The waves, the ocean, Mother Nature, howler monkeys, iguanas, turtles…are all just so amazing. Gosh, the SUNSETS here are breathtaking.
MO: If I come visit you, any particular foods I’ve gotta try?
KB: For sure! Since the ocean is our backyard, the fish here is so fresh and delicious. You have to try the ceviche! A very local dish here are Patacones, which are smashed plantains served with black beans…que rico! For desert, the pineapple pie at Nogui’s is heaven on earth. Check out Gone Local for more local tips!