Teen entrepreneur Keānuenue DeSoto shares what inspired her to start swimwear line at 12-years-old

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Talk Story: Keanuenue DeSoto
Talk Story: Keanuenue DeSoto(Talk Story)
Updated: Nov. 18, 2019 at 3:08 PM HST
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Keānuenue DeSoto is a name you are not going to forget. She's taking the world of fashion by storm and she's only sixteen. The native Hawaiian student from Kamehameha Schools debuted her first hand-sewn keiki collection, Makaha Fierce, back in December 2015, officially launching her swimwear company Anu Hawaii. That was when she was just twelve. Talk Story host McKenna Maduli caught up with the entrepreneur who recently previewed her new line at the MAMo Wearable Art Show show on Maui and is very passionate about expressing the values of aloha ʻāina in every design.

"For me the MAMo show is that one thing you can get accepted into, invited in to do that is out of this world," said DeSoto. "When they asked me to be a part of it I was just blown away because as a young designer it's surprising that they would even think of me or consider me. It's such a high accolade to be able to be a part of it. It's just wonderful."

DeSoto explained how it all began. "In the beginning I was more into sewing. That is what I'd been doing my whole life and my uncle just came to me one day and was walking around Kahala Mall. He said, I'd love to sell the stuff that you are making. So, I had this reason to start and to actually create my base. I went back home and talked to my parents about it a little more and we decided that bikinis make sense because our family has always been so ocean-rooted. Starting from there we made of plan of what we would do and decided Makaha would be the theme because Makaha is such a special place to our ‘ohana. It's where we're from. We decided to call it Makaha Fierce which is the meaning of Makaha."

DeSoto's new line will be available online for purchase starting Monday, December 2, 2019 at

About Keānuenue DeSoto:

Keānuenue DeSoto is a 16-year-old native Hawaiian fashion designer from Mākaha, O'ahu who is fluent in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. She debuted her first hand-sewn keiki collection, Makaha Fierce, in December 2015, where she officially launched her swimwear company Anu Hawaiʻi at only 12 years old.

Her designs have since been featured at Art After Dark and ʻIolani Palace alongside her mentor Kini Zamora. Keānuenue is currently a junior at Kamehameha Schools where she loves to sing and participate in water sports as a proud ocean advocate. She is passionately dedicated to environmental activism, sustainability and various ways to incorporate the values of aloha ʻāina into her fashion designs. Keānuenue is excited to showcase her first women's swimwear collection in the 2019 MAMo Wearable Art Show where it will make its runway debut before releasing online on December 1st for Cyber Monday.

For more information:, @the_surfing_rainbow,

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