If it’s true that a picture can tell a thousand words, 28-year-old Brooke Dombroski never need speak again. The Hawaii-based surfer and photographer has one of those lives you just have to see to believe — and you can, thanks to her highly-trafficked Instagram feed. I first met Dombroski on her home turf, during a recent visit to Honolulu. She and I have since maintained a rather one-sided relationship, as I indulge in daily Insta-swoons alongside her legions of fellow fans.
Dombroski describes her day job as surfer, photographer and “roamer” – by the latter, she means co-owning and -operating a mobile clothing boutique, ROAM, with three of her best friends. “Our goal is to share a piece of Hawaii with the world through our handmade goods,” she says. The mobile store is actually an ice cream truck (with the steering wheel on the right side, no less) – she and her friends pile their surfboards in the back and roam around the islands “working,” with the occasional pit stop to catch a wave. Like I said: SWOON.
I caught up with Brooke during her recent holiday to Bali (I know, I know, it’s just too much) to get her take on surf culture, Insta-culture and all things Hawaiian style.
Julie Bensman: What sort of relationship do you currently see between surf culture and fashion?
Brooke Dombroski: I think surf culture affects the fashion world, but not so much the other way around. Most ocean people don't pay attention to what the fashion world is doing, and although I somewhat try to keep up with trends, I don't let trends determine what I wear or what I design. It's all about being funky — comfortably and affordably.
JB: ROAM’s “shelves” are filled with everything from bikinis to pillows. How do you decide what to stock each season?
BD: We’re pretty unconventional in the way we run our business. Because everything is handmade or hand-screened, it’s all one-of-a-kind. It's quite hard to keep up with the demand, but keeping the quality high and putting care into our pieces is priority.
JB: Which creatives are you particularly excited about right now?
BD: My group of local creatives have really been inspiring and motivating in the way I conduct business on the island. They’re all so talented in what they're producing and there’s a great network of people really proving that some awesome artists come from this tiny island chain. Some names to note: Matt Bruening, Issa de' Mar bikinis, Ashley Johnston design, Contrast Magazine and Woolley Brothers surfboards.
JB: You often share friends’ work through your Instagram, which has created quite the cult following… [Editor’s Note: Dombroski boasts over 40,000 followers]
BD: Instagram has been such an unreal avenue for me to get my work out there. It's unbelievable how many people I've been able to reach through social media and how many projects I've been able to work on.
JB: Speaking of beautiful photos, tell me about Bali…
BD: Our trip to Bali was planned at the last minute, but it's a place that's always on my mind. Many people come here to "soul search” and maybe you could say I get a little taste of that. Right now, the ROAM girls are here to relax, get some work done, surf, explore, eat and fall in love with every step of the journey.
JB: What's the last thing you Googled?
BD: "How to avoid giant geckos" and "Do mosquitoes in Indonesia carry dengue?" You know, the usual.