From wetsuit to business suit, Landy Melei is a lady of many suits.
Posted: May 13 2020
From wetsuit to business suit, prosecutor and entrepreneur Landy is a lady of many suits. Living fully with strength and grace in all areas of life, which is reflected in her surfing style, Landy recently launched her own line of high quality, bespoke wetsuits especially for women. We connected with Landy a few years back in G-Land. Recently our founder Johnny caught up with Landy for some Q&A about how things are tracking for her and her prized quiver of boards.
Aloha Landy Melei
You grew up in Hawaii. You seem like a curious individual, always on the go & adventurous. How was your upbringing & what'd you get up to? Seems like a lot of kids growing up go down a path of experimenting with drugs etc... As a professional, role model & mum, what advice can you give to parents & kids growing up on the Islands?
Growing up in Hawaii was very special. As kids, we spent most of our time outdoors at the beach and playing in the fields behind our house when not in school or doing sports. I was very curious as a kid and thankfully the area I lived was quite safe so when I wandered off by way of hitchhiking or jumping on a bus to another area of the island, I met interesting people and mostly had good experiences.
I got off course around age 13 running around with an older crowd partying and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Once I got into that world, it seemed like the only crew I knew. My parents were on it though and did their best to pull me up. We ended up moving to “the mainland” (San Diego, California) when I was 15.
Looking back, I think it was boredom and my curious nature that led me off course. Even though I loved bodysurfing, bodyboarding and dancing hula, nothing really captured my heart like surfing. If I had started surfing earlier, I’m pretty sure I would have been so obsessed with it I would have avoided trouble. I got hooked surfing when I caught my first legitimate wave on my 17th birthday at Tourmaline on a used 8’0 egg, shaped by Chris Mauro.
The best thing about growing up in the islands is the “aina” (land) and how the natural environment lends itself to living a rich healthy lifestyle if you choose. The colors in the sky and sea, the trees, flowers and rocks, all of it has so much “mana” (power) you can feel it in your bones. Eating local fruits, fish, poi and drinking the water is extremely nourishing. Recognizing and respecting what the island naturally has to offer is the best starting point for anyone who is fortunate enough to be living there.
My advice for parents and kids lucky to be living in Hawaii, I’d say tap into nature that surrounds you for a lifelong natural high! There’s nothing like hiking into the mountains, with crazy views and the freshest of Earth’s air, then getting down to the ocean for a surf or dip – it can be mind altering in the best ways and help to stay clear during challenging times.
You’re loving your boards, board crazy! Tell us a bit about your quiver.
Yes, I LOVE my boards and I am grateful for shapers like Bob Mitsven, Scott Raisbeck, Timmy Patterson, Gary McNeil, Donald Brink and Dylan Longbottom who are so tuned into their craft and are gifting us with these amazing vehicles to ride waves! I’ve been having a love affair with single fins and channel bottoms for a couple years, but I have more twinnies than anything. Several of my boards are set up to ride as a twinny or single! The outline of single fins boards from the 70’s and thicker twin fins from the 80’s just light me up!
For more serious surf, I opt for quads, whether it’s a Pyzel Padillac, C.I. Taco Grinder, or Dylan Shapes Predator – Future Fins Eric Arakawa side fins and 3.75 flat trailers work every time for me.
Surfboards are my most cherished material possession, no doubt. Think about it, a surfboard offers unlimited experiences connecting you with water energy. Sometimes, I’ll search Craig’s List for a used board or walk into a random surf shop for a peek. If a board speaks to me, like clearly, I’m going home with it.
Word on the street is that you step out of your wetsuit & put on a business suit in the car park. Digging your wet suits, what's your role in the other suits you wear?
It’s true! I became a prosecutor in 2006. I loved doing trials as I found them very similar to surfing in that things can be unpredictable and we need to be flexible to change course at any moment. Just like surfing, preparation is key.
So my routine is to wake up around 5am, have my coffee, catch up on the news, fill up two big jugs of hot, hot water, get out the door and be at the beach by sunrise. My boards are packed in the car the night before, usually at least 3, based on the buoy reports and forecast, along with my work suit and bag stuffed with things to get ready.
I surf, getting out of the water by 7:30ish ideally after catching a set wave but of course battling the urge to get one more verse heading in satisfied.
At the car, dousing myself with hot water feels luxurious but it’s critical to get seaweed and salt out of my hair. I swiftly change into my work suit, being super careful not to get my work clothes wet or muddy. Then, I’ll sit in my car, slather on moisturizers and a little makeup so I look presentable at the office. The car heater on full blast is a great substitute hair dryer not to mention how helpful it is to dry feet before putting on heels.
The only thing that gives me away are my red glassy eyes from the salt water. Eye whitening drops are actually super toxic, told to me by an eye doctor who removed a pterygium from my left eye. If I am going to be in trial, I may skip my morning surf to show up with white, clear eyes… But it all depends on how good it is right?
Considering what you've been doing professionally for 14 years, you seem sensitive & timid at times in the surf, what's something you'd like to say to the less experienced & the down right greedy crew that hassle & don't wait their turn?
Growing up in Hawaii instilled a respect for other surfers big time! I felt like I was walking on eggshells around some older surfers and was super careful not to interfere or get in anyone’s way. I still sit off to the side at new spots and wait my turn. It’s strange to see some surfers nowadays don’t have any qualms about paddling right out and taking a wave right under another surfer who had been waiting for it. When people are considerate and show respect for others, everyone ends up having a good time. It almost seems like Mother Ocean will send more waves if everyone is being cool in the line-up.
Tell us about your connection & spending time in Gland.
Ahh, G-Land. On my first trip to Indonesia, I did not plan to go there because I thought the waves would be too heavy. I ended up going last minute on a whim because the swell was getting smaller. During the boat ride, the scent of the land grabbed me first. It was a musky combination of something floral and woody mixed with cat piss. On land, a sense of happiness overwhelmed me. I can’t explain it.
Navigating G-Land without a surfing buddy or someone to show me the ropes was intimidating. The whole scene was intense, from walking through the jungle, over the reef, to catching a wave and getting in safely. Nothing compares.
I think about G-Land all the time when I am not there. Choices I make in day to day life all relates to G-land in that I want to be ready to surf there again as soon as possible.
Where else do you love to go surf?
I love Fiji for the variety, particularly the Coral Coast. Matanivusi is at the top of my list. It is a gorgeously natural eco-resort with the warmest hospitality and unreal surfing experiences with no crowd.
Togat Nusa resort in the Mentawais also blew my mind. It is almost too dreamlike to be real. A small beautiful island with fantastic surf out front you can paddle to. The bungalows are fabulously designed with local wood and seashells and recycled glass. Johnny and Ainsley are very special people and the resort reflects that. Surfing with Johnny is a treat and he is sure to get you to the best uncrowded spot around at anytime.
You have a unique style in & out of the water, tell us about your wetsuits & why you decided to make them & where crew can check em’ out.
I seek out quality in everything, be it food, clothes, waves, and even people! Every season I felt like I had trouble finding a super high quality women’s spring suit so I set out to make what I was looking for. My wetsuits are made from 100% Japanese Yamamoto, grade #40, limestone neoprene and the cuts of the suits are tried and true for comfort and performance. Currently, I am selling them on-line at www.landywetsuits.com and plan to have some stocked at specific shops in Hawaii, California and Indonesia in the near future.
You got Snowked on snowboarding, you feel it compliments your surfing?
Snowboarding is the ultimate surf practice. The continuous riding, turning and dropping in reshapes the brain for better surfing no doubt. Plus, being immersed in a totally different environment from the beach is incredible to experience. Many times I felt as though I was underwater below the trees and falling snow.
What's ahead for you in the surfing world & world in general?
I’m focused on staying positive and grateful to just get in the water as much as possible. After what our world is experiencing with Covid 19, collectively we are letting go of things that don’t serve us. Moving forward, I just want to spend my time doing things I love with the people I love.
Who's your favorite person to hang with & surf with? & Why ?
(Jajaja... just kidding on this one 😎)
You, Johnny, are my favorite person to ride with in the world because you are on it! Whether in the snow or surf, you seem to be in the right place at just the right time.
Thanks for sharing Landy
Keep the light & high vibes alive.
Don't forget to check out Landy Wetsuits here