Who are you?
Hi, I’m Simona Finelli, the Creative Director for NO KA’OI. I have worked in the business of fashion for over 25 years. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and believe that there is no limit to what someone can achieve when they are hardworking and determined.
What inspires you?
I have always been inspired by the power of nature, it is is an integral part of my design process. I have always been a keen observer, I like to pause to enjoy where I am. Nature provides us with so much that is beautiful and sublime, from the awe of a rainbow that suddenly appears or the anticipation of a rich colourful sunset down to the intricate patterns you can see in a landscape. This is why traveling is so important to me. I can explore and observe diverse environments full of flora and fauna. Hawaii was the natural source of inspiration for this line because of the great variety of its wildlife.
I’m also greatly inspired by art, especially modern art. Like nature, art can be timeless and beautiful. I am naturally curious and I am greatly inspired by the context of the period in which a work of art was created, and I often use this to weave into my own vision for what I design each season.
For example, in our SS16 collection, I found inspiration in Futurism, a 20th Century Italian artistic and social movement. Futurism focused on dynamism, speed and technology. It explored the way the world was quickly changing. In fact, it was a big moment for women who wanted to break free of their traditional roles…I find it beautiful and very relevant to the meaning behind our line.
Who is the No Ka’Oi girl?
When I design the NO KA’OI collection with my design team, I envision a girl who has seen the world. She is cultural, stylish and confident. She has shopped at the best Avant-garde stores from Milano to New York and has everything she needs. She does not compromise on style—even when it comes to dressing to work out. She dresses fashionably all day long and she enjoys curating her style to meet the demands of her daily life.
We design for every type of body, working with silhouettes and materials that are comfortable as well as flattering. For example, our Huli Leggings, made with Italian microfiber, feature color blocking that both slims and elongates the legs.
For me, it’s about style and confidence above all.
How did you get into designing sportswear?
I co-founded The Rilievi Group 25 years ago, we are a company specialising in creating the finest hand embroidery in completely new ways for fashion houses around the world. For the last 25 years, I have fully been immersed in high fashion having worked with all the major design houses in Europe, and now America. Simultaneously, I found yoga, which allowed me to grow spiritually and discover my inner-athlete.
We decided to launch NO KA’OI out of a combined love of beauty, fashion and wellness. My goal: to create the first activewear brand born out of high fashion. In fact, we say the NO KA’OI hallmark is “Made in Rilievi,” which reflects the keen attention to detail in creating never-before-seen designs that technically perform.
This project is a labor of love challenging me professionally as well as furthering my spiritual growth; I am inspired by what we do and the woman we design for.
Where do you see yourself/brand in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years, I hope to see NO KA’OI have a strong presence in the top fitness and fashion stores around the world. We want to be in luxury resorts, fitness centers and yoga studios world-wide. Our mantra is Yoga & Life, and we’d like to be where our customers live and travel. We have a global brand perspective.
Relationships are so important and it would be a goal to develop strong collaborations with studios and teachers across the world who believe that there is no need to compromise on style when seeking physical and spiritual wellness.
We know women are not alone in this practice, and we would also like to launch a men’s collection and extend our vision to share with everyone!
What’s the one item every woman should have in her wardrobe?
A great pair of leggings! It is why I designed our Huki Pant, with great color-blocking, fit and fine Italian technical fabrications. You can look cool and feel comfortable all day, ready to take on anything your day throws at you.
What are your style tips for dressing to the gym?
Whenever I get ready to go to the gym, I first consider what it is I am going to be doing, what my goals are. Then, I think about what I want to do after my workout and I choose an outfit that works for both.
I want to be able to fashionably take on the day, and move seamlessly through life. I never want to miss out on an opportunity because I need to go home and change—it is one reason we say, Yoga & Life as our tagline. Our clothes should allow us to live the life we want to lead.
What’s your favourite healthy snack?
Nuts and exotic dried fruits
What do you indulge in on a cheat day?
A long massage is always something I look forward to. If I have time, I will try to see a movie. I love independent films and the American classics. My favourites are “Guess Who Is Coming to Dinner” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
What’s your workout of choice?
A mix of Ata Yoga and meditation.
Do you have any fitness goals you would love to achieve?
My life is very busy and hectic at times. I find that my goal is to maintain balance and harness energy. Through the practice of yoga, I aim to relieve stress and sustain equilibrium by aligning the body, mind, heart, and emotions. The end result is a healthy vitality.
What do you do to relax?
One of the most important things for me is to make time to travel. My schedule is so busy day-to-day, but my husband and I make sure to take a trip a year.
When I can’t get away, Some days, it is a long walk to clear my head and connect me to the world, to appreciate the nature that surrounds us. It may be a long dinner with friends, or a good yoga class that allows me to focus inward. I also just absolutely love massages!
If there was a soundtrack to your life, what song would be playing right now?
Anything by Moby.