LexBreezy Hawaii founder Alexis Akiona strives to engage Hawaiiof the younger generation through aloha clothing with its own modern twist on classic Native Hawaiian designs. She gives back to her alma mater with a scholarship to Honolulu Community College to help dozens of other students create careers in fashion.
His gift of $50,000 over five years to Honolulu CC will provide 20 scholarships each year to fashion and cosmetology students, with preference given to Native Hawaiian students.
Akiona said she was inspired to give back to Honolulu CC by the help she had received as a student, in particular a scholarship established by the Native Hawaiian brand aloha wear Thrilled which allowed him to leave a part-time job and focus all his efforts on his studies. Receiving a scholarship made her feel like someone believed in her.
“That’s what I wanted to do for other future designers, whether they’re doing aloha clothing or not,” she said. “Because that is truly my mission, to inspire the younger generation to embrace aloha clothing and inspire them to pursue their dreams.”
Honolulu CC Chancellor Karen Lee said Akiona is a role model for students.
“She honed her art and skills through our fashion technology program, founded a successful local aloha clothing business, and gives back to the college as a partner and as a scholarship donor,” said Lee. “We are honored to have a graduate like Alexis.”
The roots of the Big Island
Fashion runs in the Akiona family. Her mother, Lola Miller, owns Simply Sisters by Lola Miller Designs, an aloha clothing company in Hilo, where Akiona grew up.
After graduating from Waiākea High School, Akiona moved to Clothes and registered at The cap CC become a radiology technician. While The cap CCshe started working for a local streetwear company designing t-shirts and hats and started building a clientele.
She had found her passion and, at age 22, launched her modern aloha clothing and resort clothing brand LexBreezy. Hawaii at the Merrie Monarch Arts & Crafts Fair 2016 during the week of the famous hula festival.
After experiencing some early success, Akiona realized she needed foundational skills to take her creative vision and business to the next level. She enrolled in the fashion tech program in Honolulu CC, where she learned everything from designing to making clothes. She graduated from the program in May 2019.
“I kind of did it a little backwards — I started my business, then I went back to school,” she said. “But in the end, for me, it was so important to do that.”
In Honolulu CCshe learned the inner workings of the fashion industry.
“I entered it without knowing how to sew, without knowing how to make patterns; all I knew was what I wanted to wear,” she said. “Now I can walk into a factory and know what they are talking about. I know what a seam is. I know what all my fractions are, I know the language of making.
Akiona, 29, is also a mother of two grandsons, Fishing and Keep, with her husband James Akiona. She was pregnant with her youngest son when she opened her LexBreezy Hawaii shop in Kailua in June 2021.
In May 2022, LexBreezy Hawaii was one of seven Hawaii companies selected from 138 applicants to participate in the seventh cohort of Mana Up, a local accelerator of HawaiiThe London-based companies are looking to take it to the next level, and in November took part in the Mana Up showcase with a large display of its designs on the ground floor of Bloomingdale’s at Ala Moana Center.
Today, his company has 13 employees spread across a store in Kailua, producing, fulfilling online orders from the LexBreezy Hawaii website and a wholesale division. Her children’s line LexBreezy was recently taken over by Nordstrom and her designs are sold at House of Mana Up stores in Waikīkī and online.
“When I joined Mana Up, it was more about volunteering your time and giving back,” Akiona said. “That’s what I feel like success is just being able to give.”