Aloha Collection arrives in Encinitas

Aloha Collection founders Heather Aiu and Rachael Soares.
(Courtesy of The Aloha Collection)

Aloha’s splash-proof bags help support an active lifestyle


The Aloha Collection opened its flagship store in downtown Encinitas on June 26, offering travel and active lifestyle accessories that carry hints of Hawaiian style.

The Aloha Collection is a line of splash-proof bags, pouches, totes, hip packs and duffels in a variety of colorful beachy and island prints. This is their first store on the mainland—their original location is in Oahu, Hawaii at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Honolulu.

“Travel is our inspiration, and the beach is our home,” said Heather Aiu, who co-founded the business with friend Rachael Soares. “Encinitas is a quintessential beach town and we feel right at home.”

Aiu was born and raised in Kauai and had never left the state until she went to college at Loyola Marymount University. During her senior year, she went to San Diego for the first time to visit a friend from Encinitas.

“I immediately fell in love with the charming town and friendly people. I found my people,” Aiu said. “A couple years later I answered a roommate ad on Craigslist and moved in with Rachael.”

The idea for the Aloha Collection was born in 2013 out of the women’s shared love for travel, adventure and the ocean. At the time, Aiu was working as a private mortgage banker and Soares was an international flight attendant.

“As a flight attendant, there is only so much real estate in your carry-on suitcase. Everything packed needs to be multi-functional and lightweight,” Soares said. “I never leave home without a bikini and sarong but I had one problem. My bikini is always wet. How does one pack a wet bikini?

I searched the world and I couldn’t find a cute lightweight wet bikini bag. I didn’t want to use plastic and I needed a multi-functional bag that compresses into nothing and fits in my carry-on.”

Aloha Collection bags.
(Courtesy of Aloha Collection)

Aiu was doing hot yoga at the time and needed a reusable bag to put her sweaty yoga clothes in after her workout. “Voila! Our first small and mid pouches were born!” Soares said.

After raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign, they launched their first print in 2015 and were a hit in Hawaii. They quit their day jobs the next year and have steadily grown their business ever since, continuing to travel the world (packed perfectly light and stylishly) and opening the Waikiki store in 2021.

A portion of Aloha’s sales goes to support conservation efforts.

“In Hawaiian, Mālama ʻĀina means to take care of the land,” said Aiu. “We donate 5% of profits to Hawaii-based conservation organizations annually as a way of giving back to the community and to help preserve the cultural heritage and natural beauty of our home.”

The Aloha Collection is located at 687 South Coast Highway 101, suite 104. To check out the latest styles and fan favorites, visit

The new Aloha Collection store in Encinitas.
(Courtesy Aloha Collection)