Kaiola is the first surf hat design for men and women, made by surfers for surfers.

Hello! I'm Barbara, the founder of Kaiola. The idea was born as a result of a frustrated couple of years looking for a surf hat that would protect me from the elements and prevent my skin from burning. At the same time, it needed to perform well in the surf and preferably not make me look like a kook.

For sure I was using rashguards and water resistant sunblock with high SPF, but this did not protect my face sufficiently and never protected my head overall. Over the years, I spent a lot of time in tropical Costa Rica chasing waves. The consequences of sun damage I have are real!

image of a girl smiling using a pink surf hat

The uphill struggle

During my search for a suitable surf hat, I accumulated a large collection of hats from all over the world. But all I found were surf hats with clumsy design, poor material and terrible style. More than ever I was convinced I could come up with a better solution. So, I decided to make my own!

I established myself in Ericeira, Portugal, to become a bootstrapped entrepreneur and to embark on making the perfect surf hat. The mission was clear: a. lasting protection from sun, glare, splashes and spray; b. fit for purpose in all wave conditions; c. stylish designs; d. environmentally conscious; and e. share the stoke with my fellow surfers.

I had left my management & strategy consulting career in London behind, but had no experience about making hats, or starting a business from scratch. Portugal was a strategic decision. Ericeira, where I am now based, is a World Surfing Reserve and further north, in the Porto area, you find the best apparel manufacturing facilities within Europe. Lisbon, on the other hand, has given me access to amazingly talented experts.

It’s been 5 years since I kicked off this journey full time. After running a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2019, our online shop opened in 2020, just in time for Covid. Since, we've grown organically and sell hats around the world and gradually are expanding the Kaiola portfolio. Check out the video below to learn about our journey. Kaiola is just starting, but we’ve already come a long way!

Beyond grey and black

The ocean is my sanctuary, so naturally my design journey started there. From sun rise to night fall, nothing energises and inspires me more than witnessing nature showcase its true colours. Our collection of 6 colours takes cue from and pays homage to nature's most beautiful elements. As sustainability is one of our key pillars, we opted for colours with a timeless appeal.

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