Darren Mongcupa, the owner and mastermind behind local brand Mahina Swimwear, is traveling down her very own yellow brick road to success. She initially began designing and producing handcrafted swimwear as a hobby, after having little luck shopping for a pair of bikinis, herself. She decided to create her own swimwear–bathing suits that fit her body type, offered at an affordable price. Demand followed, and her hard work has evolved into a full-fledged business, with orders coming in from almost every state, and from around the globe.

“This brand is meant to reflect positivity while still being comfortable, trendy, and affordable,” says Mahina Swimwear founder, 21-year old Darren Mongcupa (pictured).

The name Mahina comes from the Hawaiian word for moon.

“I really wanted that to transition to how the moon lights up at night, how radiant the glow it gives off,” she says. “I wanted that to transition to how girls feel in their own bodies.”

The brand is meant to reflect body positivity while still being comfortable, trendy and affordable — the original goals Mongcupa set for herself, but didn’t expect to be sharing with the world.

Photo credit: Mahina Swimwear

Having moved at the age of nine from the Philippines to Jacksonville, Mongcupa has grown to love Florida. As a young child, she had a passion for designing her own clothes and would even craft one-of-a-kind clothing for her Barbie dolls. Now just 21-years young, Mongcupa makes all of her products by hand and recently enrolled part-time at FSCJ, where she’s expanding her knowledge of business and management. She is working to balance both school and her passion for sewing and creating.

With a thriving business, Mongcupa realized she needs some extra helping hands. Earlier this year, she flew to Indonesia where she met with manufacturers about producing her designs in larger quantities. Mongcupa will still be personally hand-making products herself and is adamant about the bikinis continuing to be handmade by people she trusts.

An outlet she uses to promote her brand is her “Girl Gang” and brand ambassadors. Girl Gang is a community on Instagram to connect all Mahina Swimwear lovers, using the hashtag #Mahinaswimwear. As for her brand ambassadors, she desires girls who are outgoing and are living their best life.

“I’m really loving the support, but I like to keep it fairly small. I want to really get to know who the girls are and keep them in the loop with the brand, and really get to know them.”

As for the future of Mahina Swimwear, Mongcupa says she will pursue more storefronts to carry her brand, and not just in the Sunshine State, but in Hawaii and California, as well. Next year, she hopes to have Mahina Swimwear featured in Miami Swim Week. From there, the sky’s the limit.

Photo Credit: Mahina Swimwear

This article originally appeared in Void Magazine Vol. 8, Issue 12, The Swimsuit Issue