A 21-year-old Miami native plans to use her new clothing company to help clean up beaches and spread environmental awareness.
Gabrielle Moya, a management and marketing student at Florida International University, grew up developing a love for the ocean during family trips to the Keys and Bahamas.
She’s now combining that love and her desire to be an entrepreneur with a nautically themed apparel business she’ll use to sponsor, organize and participate in beach cleanups and environmental awareness initiatives.
“I always wanted to open my own business and be my own boss,” she said. “My love for boating, the ocean and the beach is the whole reason I started this.”
When deciding on a name for her business, Moya read through Hawaiian terms. She was drawn to the word “kahuna,” which bears two definitions: a big wave or an important wise person. Combining the word with two terms synonymous with ocean life, she had her company’s name: Blue Kahuna Surf.
“I want to start a big movement—a big wave—in my generation and the generations to come, with a focus on marine life preservation,” she said.
She mentioned the idea to her parents, who encouraged her to develop it further. Not long after, she showed them a logo she’d designed: a symmetrical image of a blue crab hoisting a surf board. Her mother referred her to a graphic designer friend who digitized the logo.
“Once it was digitized, I looked at the logo and thought, ‘This is actually something I would buy if I saw it in a store,’” she said.
After officially founding Blue Kahuna Surf as a limited liability company in October 2017, Moya ordered white long-sleeve shirts and hats with the logo printed on them.
Holding her realized vision in her hands, she said, was a real “wow” moment.
“This was something I designed, something I did,” she said. “Every time I went out on the ocean after, I thought of how I could use it to enhance my passion.”
Moya, who hopes to one day own and operate her own real estate development company, said she wants to team with beach cleanup groups and organize events in which she, friends and customers participate.
She now is working on the details while preparing to be a vendor at an upcoming fashion show at St. Brendan High School, her high school alma mater.
“I feel like the best way is to get a lot of people out there to help on a consecutive basis, because the more people you have, the more you clean up,” she said.
She’s already enlisted the help of friends like Laura Lopez, her Alpha Omicron Pi sorority sister.
“Living in Miami, we enjoy the beach,” Lopez said. “As a college student who enjoys the beach often, I feel like a lot of our peers have fun at the beach but don’t respect it. Gabrielle’s trying to bring awareness to that.”