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Waterwoman and Seeababe: Luki O'Keefe

With a surfboard shaper for a dad, Luki O’Keefe's earliest memories of childhood were in the ocean. She was pushed into whitewater waves by her dad at Doheny State Beach and San Onofre as young as 3-years-old and continues to surf those same breaks today. In fact, that’s right where we met Luki, at San Onofre when she was changing into her neoprene outrigger canoeing pants!

We immediately bonded with Luki over our shared love of vintage fashion and her passion for playing in the ocean. You'll surely recognize her as one of our main models and one of our favorite local surfing companions. We visited Luki and her dad at his shaping bay to talk about growing up by, on, and in the sea.

Luki with her O'Keefe longboard. 

When did you start surfing on your own?

When I was seven my dad shaped me and my sister our first board to share. Of course we wanted a huge pink heart with flames surrounding it. I still have that silly board. I stopped surfing when I was about 9 because my cousins pushed me into a few too many huge waves.

I stayed close to the ocean by sailing, fishing, free diving, and cave hunting with my family as well as competitive outrigger canoeing. When I was 13, my cousin Megan O’Keefe convinced me to go surfing with her on Christmas Eve. Since then, every Christmas Eve we paddle out together and celebrate the day I really fell in love with surfing.

How has surfing become part of your life since then?

Shortly after, I got a job at my grandpa’s fish market in Dana Point near the Boneyard. I spent a few years surfing and hanging out with our tight pack of jetty rats. Some of my best memories were made on our road trips up and down our coast. It's been fun watching those friends grow up, some quit surfing, and some are building careers out of it. Although I've never even considered participating in contest other than the occasional expression session, surfing will always be a huge part of my personal life.

Luki and her dad, Jerry O'Keefe.

How has your Dad played a role in your surfing?

My Dad always understood the importance of surfing. It’s more of a priority and a medicine in our family than just a hobby. When I was young and too timid to really enjoy surfing, he would still take me out every now and then and say that someday I will get hooked, and when that day comes he will have done his best to prepare me. That day came and thanks to him I learned a bit faster than most beginners.

He taught me how to love the ocean deeper than just surfing, and how to use surfing to balance a life outside of the ocean.

What’s it like working with your dad? 

Working for my Dad in the surf industry means I can take breaks to surf if the tide is right, and I can build my own schedule around school, activities, travels, and surf forecasts without worrying. I feel pretty blessed.

From your dad being a shaper, how does it help to know the different details of board shapes and how they work?

The more you know, the easier it will be to modify your board to the conditions you plan to surf as well as your style, weight, and experience. Learning about the way boards work takes a lot of trial and error... unless you have a dad who knows exactly what you need and like ;)

Luki sets up the machine to rough out a new shape. 

All smiles, Luki looks on while her dad smooths out her new board.  

What are your other passions?

I have always been into lifestyle, portrait, and adventure photography and am learning more and more about that art every day. I also love yoga and traveling. I have every type of waterman/woman in my family so even if surfing is not involved I am usually by, on, or in the sea.

What do you love about wearing Seea?

I was wearing a lot of clothes from thrift stores in the water because I couldn't find comfort in tiny bikinis or manly board shorts. When I started wearing Seea suits I got to keep my vintage-inspired style without ruining clothes or worrying about losing control of bikini bottoms. I feel free and feminine in my Seea suits—free to dance around in the water and free to mix and match pieces to make my own surf outfits.

I'm amazed and grateful for everything Seea has done for and with me. They have taken me on some breathtaking adventures and have introduced me to plenty of lovely people that I now call friends.

Thanks Luki! We are grateful for your friendship, company and all your support too!

Amanda Chinchelli-Greer October 03, 2013 2 tags (show)

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