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Interview with MIKOH Founders

March 16, 2015

Inspired by Parisian style as well as the surf, MIKOH founders Kalani and Oleema Miller have stitched the two together with a sophisticated swimwear line that’s designed for ladies who love to play in the waves. Featuring island prints and coastal color palettes, all the sisters’ suits are seamless and hardware free — perfect for the no-fuss beach-going gal. Here, the part-time Newport Beach residents reveal their secrets for finding the ideal fit, what’s in their beach bag, and what they love most about their home base.

What’s the best type of swimsuit for an active water woman who also wants to look stylish?
Kalani: Sportier gals need secure silhouettes, like a sports bra-style top. Ours come with fun detailing like crochet, string, and our signature banding, so they also look stylish.
Oleema: She needs something that is easy to throw on and take off — but also that’s going to stay on! My favorite tops and bottoms to wear when surfing are ones that just slip on. Anything with a tie is too high-risk! All of our bottoms are tried and tested.

How can I determine which cuts best suit my figure?
Kalani: First, determine your body type and ask yourself: ‘In what features do I feel most confident and want to show off, and what am I looking to cover up?’ In general, smaller upper bodies look best in triangle-cut tops with prints, while a curvier bottom or shorter legs look better with tie-side bottoms that elongate the leg.
Oleema: It’s important to make sure you have the right amount of coverage and support. Less fabric is more, but it’s got to be in the right places and the correct ratio to what you have going on.

What is the swimwear faux pas you see most often?
Kalani: The worst mistake that I see women make is wearing a bikini that doesn’t fit right or is the wrong cut for their body. A suit should enhance your curves and best attributes.
Oleema: Being overly covered and not wearing a swimsuit confidently. Wearing a swimsuit isn’t much different from wearing lingerie — if you’re going to wear it, own it and rock it.

The five must-haves in your beach tote?
• An extra MIKOH bikini — right now I am loving the Tuamotu top and Cayman bottom.
• My Kindle. It’s the best way to have many books at your fingertips and it’s perfect for reading in the direct sunlight.
• Shade sunscreen. It has a nude tint and no harmful chemicals.
• Leica point-and-shoot camera. I love capturing all of the beautiful things we see while on our travels.
• Healthy snacks. I never know how long I will stay down at the beach, so having snacks and water is essential.

Oleema: We just came out with a new MIKOH beach tote, so that’s my bag of choice. Inside, I keep …
• An extra wide-brim Panama hat
• Really good polarized sunglasses
• A beach sarong that doubles as a blanket … and a dress.
• H20
• Shade sunscreen, SPF 45.

Best local beach?
Kalani: I love watching [bodysurfers] at The Wedge when there is a massive swell hitting the California coast. There are few places in the world that you can be so close to the action and literally feel the energy of the ocean.
Oleema: I always go to Little Corona. The ocean has this beautiful blue [hue] and the coastline is really pretty at certain times of the year. It’s such a nice place to escape and get some solitude in the city.

How do you stay in bikini-ready shape?
Kalani: I spend the majority of the year on the road, living out of a suitcase. For me it’s important to always stay on some sort of schedule. When I am in Newport Beach, I love to work out with a personal trainer — I take notes on the workouts so I can hit the gym on my own abroad! I try to go to the gym every other day; I’ll do a 10-minute warm up followed by 45 minutes of cardio, and then I’ll stretch. I am also obsessed with Pilates; it is the best way to quickly get your body in beach-shape. But, the most important thing of all is to eat healthy. I find it’s easy to make healthy choices once I’ve mentally committed to it.
Oleema: I surf a couple of times a week and do Pilates as often as I can (on the reformer), but for the most part, it’s just my lifestyle — I’m always out and about, walking and biking around between activities. If the weather is bad, I’ll still try to get outdoors for at least a walk.

Beaching it aside, what are some other activities you enjoy in Newport Beach when you are here?
Kalani: I love to stroll around Fashion Island with my pup, Action. She is a mini pinscher-Chihuahua mix and is best friends with Oleema’s dog, Panda.
Oleema: I love myself a good glass of rosé at The Wine Gallery in CdM. I also really enjoy the farmers market on Saturdays and going for coffee with friends at Zinc Café and Market and strolling at Fashion Island with Kalani, Action, and Panda.

Best local bites?
Kalani: A Restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway is my favorite; the dark and moody vibe instantly transports me back in time, and the steak and desserts are hard to beat.
Oleema: SOTA sushi is to die for. And I go to Gulfstream a lot; I always order whatever the fresh fish of the day is.

Back to fashion: What’s the best piece of advice anyone has given you?
Kalani: Get a good tailor. Being only 5’1”, finding a good tailor to custom fit the pieces I love always makes me feel confident.
Oleema: Back to what I said earlier about confidence — this applies to everything. You can be inappropriately dressed but if you’re embracing it, you can still look amazing because that inner beauty shines through.

Your personal style icon?
Kalani: Kate Bosworth. She mixes classic pieces with something fresh and always looks put-together.
Oleema: Caroline de Maigret, author of “How to be Parisian.” She is the epitome of sexy-cool and is the sophisticated French version of the MIKOH woman.

What do you think is your sister’s best style attribute?
Kalani: Oleema always looks put-together; she’s always on trend without being trendy.
Oleema: Kalani has mastered the art of the laid-back look. As well as the art of a perfectly packed suitcase — after years of traveling and promising ourselves we’ll “pack lighter next time, pack lighter next time,” she’s somewhat got it down!

MIKOH can be found locally at Diane’s Beachwear and Molly Brown’s.Or online at

Written by Visit Newport Beach

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