When we asked Makala Smith where she’s headed for her next big adventure she replied, “Not quite sure yet!” A spitfire of high energy, good vibes and our favorite unpredictable wild card, that about sums up why we love how she rolls.
Makala grew up in Dana Point, California and spent her adolescent summers surfing from sunrise to sunset with her best friends and the beach community as her babysitters. Being in the same waters as local legends that shaped Southern California surf culture, it’s no wonder her classic footwork has been an influence on her own gliding style.
Beyond the sandy shores, cultivating a connection to Mother Nature’s seasons is a way of life: from tending to her home vegetable garden to being mindful of reducing her plastic consumption. We caught up with her to talk more about her signature suits, vintage clothing hoarding habits, and her most recent travels.
All photos by Lucrecia O'Keefe
Your vintage clothing collection is the best. Why do you love searching and finding pieces?
It’s been something that I've been doing my whole life and I love it. Started early pre- teens when I didn't want to follow the trends and fads of that time. So the search went on to find that new cool unique thing. Every piece has a unique story to it and one-of-a-kind pieces are something so fun to come by. I've gotten to a point where I get them even if they don't fit me or they are men's wear, haha!
Searching for these garments is a really fun thing for me to do especially when I'm traveling. Just a hobby for now that I will eventually save for a business idea and/or my children one day.
How did your love for vintage swimsuits inspire your Seeababes suit? What was the process designing it with Amanda Chinchelli, designer of Seea?
I wanted to make something we haven't done before. Not just your average suit, but something unique and different that incorporates my personality and style. We did some research together, searched through some inspiration of vintage suits and just slowly brainstormed it and sketched it.
How did you want to perform and look when you wore it?
The initial idea was so that when you come down the flying down the line you have your hair blowing in the wind and your skirt flapping away. With the elastic waist, it’s comfortable and stays right on ya when you surf. Since the bottom is so unique I needed the top to be simple and secure.
It was an awesome feeling seeing it come from a piece of paper to a garment—a priceless feeling that I helped create that. Makes me want to design more epic suits.
Tell us more about your surfboard journey! How did you get into riding mid-length boards and why do you like them?
I love riding different boards. Having a variety of a quiver is ideal. Surfing Churches, my local winter spot, is where it all started. All it took was one wave. Then I got a friend Tyler Warren to shape me one. The feeling of going fast on a smaller board is a magical feeling. I've been barreled and that's the best feeling of surfing ever!
Growing up in Southern California, there’s always a chance of running into a local legend in the lineup. What did it feel like to meet one of your surf heros Joyce Hoffman?
I will never forget that day. It was a gloomy day with a lot on my mind I saw a wave out of the corner of my eye. I've lived in Dana Point my whole life and have never surfed that reef, mainly because it rarely breaks. So I pulled over and just ran out there for a couple and my day went from alright to one of the most memorable days ever. I surfed for a bit with some random dude on a SUP and he turned to me and was like do you know who that is paddling out?
I had no idea who it was at first. But it was her! Joyce! Ma Gurl!
She still has so much steeze in her style, riding a gun-like Hobie sitting all the way out. I was a bit star struck so I didn't have much to say, just hello. Her presence said it all.
She still lives on that beach in Dana Point in one of the coolest houses you will ever see. Her surfing means a lot to me especially because she grew up surfing the iconic waves at princess point killer Dana. Which I could never surf because I was born after the harbor was already built. She's my hero.
Tell us about your mom’s flower shop in San Clemente. How do you like working with your mom and greenery?
I've worked there since I can remember. I'm an excellent sweeper. Lol. It's amazing to being able to work and share that time with my mother. The older I get the better I get at it and the more I'm learning. There’s just always good energy at the flower shop. I love the designing portion of it as well.
We often are able to see things differently when we are traveling and it a totally new place… it gets us out of our routines. What’s the last surf trip that changed your outlook?
Wow this is a tough question. Any trip has eye-opening experiences.
Japan for Seea and Axxe wetsuits was super awesome and different! We stayed with Axxe for a week before we did a week shooting for Seea. What I loved about it so much is that we got to be tourists and explore all of what Japan has in store and all its greatest attractions, not just an average surf trip (which are never bad!)
My recent trip was just to Baja and that itself is a culture shock and a half. Being isolated with no one around but rolling green hills and the beautiful ocean with waves everywhere. Pulling up to the sand dunes after a long drive on a dirt road, sleeping in a tent in the sand, waking up and just cruising to find the best waves in the cove.
It's very important to travel with the people you can trust and love. It makes the whole trip. Just the family-like vibe at all times, it’s a great way to let go and open up your mind with that much space around you. You can go for a little walk and get away to read or whatever it may be. Made me realize how lucky we are to live in the places we do. But at the same time, I like the simple lifestyle that they have down there—living off the land and the ocean to provide for your restaurant or just your family.
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