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The HNL Brand Story

A Love Story

In his sophomore year, Shawn Corridan was a skinny,  homeless surfer from a small town in Florida who’d never played high school sports. A year later, he was being recruited by the nation's football powerhouses including Notre Dame, Florida, BYU, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami but chose a scholarship to a school 5,000 miles away, a place where he didn’t know a soul – the University of Hawaii – for the opportunity to earn a BA degree, play running back for the Rainbow Warriors and surf the best waves in the world.

It turned out to be the best decision of his life.

Boy Meets Girl

Shawn’s first night in Honolulu was mind-boggling. Stumbling through Waikiki in wide-eyed wonder, the small-town kid was mesmerized by wahine dancing hula at the Halekulani, the air perfumed with plumeria. At Kaimana Beach he witnessed his first Pacific sunset with silhouettes of canoe paddlers traversing the horizon. Behind him a full moon rose over Diamond Head. He woke to stunning views of an ocean so blue it defied description. He knew in an instant it was...

Love at First Sight

The following weeks were a blur. Enrolling at the University. Dorm life. Classes. Parties. From day one, he was greeted with open arms...literally! And that’s what amazed him even more than the food, the culture and the natural beauty of the islands: the reception from the local people. The shaka. A heartfelt handshake. The warm embrace. A kiss on the cheek. The aloha!

A broken knee cap ended the football career but it didn’t keep him out of the water. Soon he was surfing all over town: Sand Island, Kewalos, Bowls, Kaisers, Tonggs, Lighthouse, Bones...and a zillion spots in between. And if he wasn’t surfing he was swimming, bodysurfing and spearfishing along Honolulu shores and reefs. North Shore and West Side, too. “Each day a beach day” became his mantra, "Surf it to Surfeit" a vow. 

Boy Marries Girl

Years passed. Decades. The love affair with Honolulu continued. Shawn graduated from U.H. then married his college sweetheart. He grew his hair. He surfed. A lot! He began writing. First market research reports for Wall Street. Then screenplays and novels. And he traveled. A lot! Sydney, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Bali, Manila, Rome, San Francisco, Miami and many other far-flung regions of the world. But as awesome as all these places were, none of them stacked up to Honolulu. Shawn was convinced: HNL no ka oi. 

So why couldn’t he find clothes that reflected that sentiment? After all, HNL was world-renown, “The Capital of Paradise”. Surely she deserved her own brand? Shawn wanted to pay homage to this great city, to literally wear his HNL heart on his sleeve. But how? His wheels began to turn.  







One day Shawn paddled out to his favorite spot, a nameless, rarely-surfed right-hander that sucked out over a huge exposed coral head during low tide. He’d grown up around boats and had even been rescued by the Coast Guard - twice! – so he immediately recognized the symbol marking the surf spot when he examined it on a nautical chart:

To sailors, the symbol meant “Rock Awash”. A navigational hazard. Danger. 

To Shawn it meant fun!

On this particular day, Shawn was riding a brand new Rawson squash-tail and was anxious to get it wired. Every surfer knows each surfboard has a tipping point, a spot where there’s an equal amount of weight and volume on either side of the board. That spot determines optimum balance. Surfers call it: The sweet spot. 

After a few waves, he was dialed in. Satisfied, he paddled back out and waited for a set. He had the place all to himself. A honu swam by and winked at him. He smiled then looked down at the massive rock. His rock. Watching the Manini and Tang and Humus darting and swaying with the ebb and flow of the gin-clear water. Then he swept his eyes over Diamond Head, the Waikiki skyline, the Ko’olaus, Manoa Valley. Talk about optimum balance! And that’s when it hit him...

...he truly had found the sweet spot.

HNL Brand is Born!