I love finding new brands and small businesses while I'm searching Instagram, which is exactly how I stumbled upon Happy Fish Hawaii! A girlfriend tagged me in a photo of a hat that said "My Mommy is a Mermaid" and said Harlow needs this!! Of course I jumped on that faster than you can imagine! After contacting Scoop, the owner of Happy Fish, I decided you, my wonderful readers might want to know about Happy Fish too! Enjoy and Aloha! "Cast a Smile and Reel in Another!"
Elise: I am so stoked to be featuring Happy Fish on SaltWaterDiary! I most definitely was drawn to your awesome designs from the very second I saw them. They personify who I am! The more I read about Happy Fish and what inspired you to create this brand, the more I felt it was meant for me. Lets start by telling our readers what inspired you to create your brand.
Scoop: Happy Fish started as drawing I used to do in class when I was in grad school at UH. It was always a fish and he would be in funny strange scenarios that a fish probably wouldn't want to be in; like a toilet, on a dinner plate, sitting in class etc. but he was always smiling. The name happy fish comes from a surfboard that I love, it's a fish shape and its super fat and thick and really easy to catch waves on. I always had so much fun surfing it I named it the happy fish, which felt like a fitting name for the brand. I had always talked about maybe doing something with my drawings but was never serious about it. I had put my book of drawings away for about a year and forgot about them, but pulled them out again and started drawing again and decided to take it a bit more seriously. I wanted to start an attitude brand, something that affected people’s attitude in a positive way. I went to an art store picked up some paint and canvas and started getting after it. I really had no idea how to work with paint and no idea how to start a company, just wanted to share what I had been doing. I took me FOREVER to finally finish my first painting, which is now the Happy Fish Hawaii logo. From there I just started researching how to actually start turning this into a company. So I guess the short answer would be, I was inspired by the happy feeling I got whenever I looked at the little smiling fish and wanted to share it with other people.
Elise: Ahhh college days and all the inspiration that comes when you are sitting in a classroom instead of on a board in the ocean, I remember the days very well! Of all the products in your Fish Market (such a clever name for your shop), which is the most popular?
Scoop: The newest (Me)rmaid hats have been very popular. I was extremely pumped when I came up with that one. I always joke that I'm a pirate and I'm going to marry a mermaid, haha, and I might rock the hat around too! It's hard to say one design is more popular than the other. The Happy Fish design stands out to some people because it's an instant smile maker. Every time I wear a Happy Fish shirt I have at least three people stop me and talk to me about my shirt, it's pretty cool. I think the Shark Smile design grabs people because its different, kind of the irony of a shark with a big grin, we don't think of sharks having a warm welcoming smile. We also know so little about sharks and that's what gives us that element of fear about them, same with people. We often have a judgment or fear of people we know the least about, that was sort of the parallel of the two. The more we can learn about sharks the more we can transition our fear into respect and understanding , much like getting to know other people before judging. Here in Hawaii people love trucker hats its a perfect beach accessory. But everyone that has a shirt tells me it's one of his or her favorites, they are all very soft.
Elise: I LOVE my (Me)rmaid hat! I am a trucker hat maniac! Every time I wear it and/or Harlow wears her "my mommy is a mermaid" hat, I get stopped a lot! It's so fun! I agree about sharks as well as many other ocean dwellers, humans just need more knowledge to understand them instead of fear them. Can you tell me a little bit about how the ocean became your playground?
Scoop: I was a military brat growing up, and we moved a lot. I had moved nine times by the time I graduated high school. Pretty much everywhere we lived we were within some proximity of the beach and fishing was a big thing for me growing up. My first time going out on a big charter boat I was 4 or 5 when we lived in Monterey CA, I have pictures of my Peppr'e (Pernounced Pepe, French for Grandpa) and I fishing together at the beach in NC when I could barely walk. In high school we lived on the Nuse River in NC which is an estuary the feeds into the Atlantic, and I would drag our little john boat down to the water to fish or go crabbing. I never realized I was such a beach/water person until I moved to Mississippi and then Tennessee during college and there was no beach! I started loosing it! When I finished undergrad I decided to move to Hawaii where a beach being close by is not an issue. Now my main activities are surfing, freediving and a bit of spear fishing. Although when I go spearing I usually come back with more shells than fish, I'm kind of a shell freak!
Elise: Sounds like you also have saltwater in your veins! Being a land locked mermen/mermaid is no fun! One thing that I really think is great about Happy Fish is how you've decided to give back! Will you elaborate to our readers why you decided on the charities that you did?
Scoop: Being able to give was a big reason for me to start Happy Fish. Trying to give back is a big part of my nature, it comes from both my parents. Being a yoga teacher and not having much disposable income I volunteer as much as possible in any fashion. I also started participate in the Big Brother/Big Sister program in college. I have a “little brother”, but I don't know if I can call him my little anymore because he is bigger than me now. We were matched when I was a JR in college and he was in 4th grade. He is a JR in HS now and is going to graduate next year, and attend college. He came out and visited me out here about a year ago and loved it. He is even talking about wanting to apply to UH! It super fun being able to do those things and as much as you are influencing them, they are influencing you that much more. What made me want to give to Hawaii Foodbank is because directly effects people. It’s important to care for each other first, the more we can focus on helping each other become better people, it will translate to more caring, better educated citizens, that will then translate to a better environment. Then being a local company here in Hawaii, it was important to me to keep it here on the island. Hawaii Foodbank is a great organization, we had a food drive at Power Yoga Hawaii, the studio I teach at, and they were so helpful. Giving boxes, helping promote, and picking the boxes of food up. Their volunteers are super great too.
Elise: Absolutely awesome!! A happy positive and super rad brand with stellar designs that is a small business and gives back! What more could you ask for? It's been so awesome chatting with you and I can't wait to wear my Happy fish Gear even more now that I really feel like I know the brand. Before we wrap it up, are there any other places beside your online shop that we can find and shop Happy Fish?
Scoop: Yes. Here on the South Side of the island: Pineapple County, a small store on Lewers street in Waikiki. They were actually the first store to carry my Happy Fish brand, and are a great store. If you make it there Keiko is the manager, say hi to her and she will point you to where the Happy Fish stuff is. If you are on the east side of the island, Lanikai general store carries my Shark Smile and (Me)rmaid hats, Its walking distance from Kailua beach park. Donna is the owner and will probably be in the store if you go.. if you go see her give her a big hug, she is the best hugger. Her brother owns Bob’s Pizza right next door, so I always grab pizza when I go see her. On the North Shore I am in Noelani Designs and Studios, make sure you take a yoga class there too. Growing Keiki in Hale'iwa carries my kids designs. On Kauai, Coco Pink Boutique in Kapaa carries my hats as well.
Awesome brand huh? I'm stoked! Scoop has been so gracious and has given our readers a 10% off online discount code! His prices are already low, so go grab something that will make you and others smile!!
"Cast a Smile and Reel in Another!"
And Instagram HappyFishHawaii