When you’re hanging out with Emma Wo, it’s hard not to stare. Those eyes. Those cheekbones! If she looks like real life beauty queen, that’s because she is one — the blogger behind The Aloha Babe is also a former Miss Hawaii USA (and a top ten contender for Miss USA.) But her kind and genuine personality is truly the most striking thing about her. We met up with Emma in the hip Kaka’ako neighborhood of Honolulu to browse some of her favorite shops, and get the inside scoop on real Hawaiian style. Scroll down to discover Emma’s favorite places to shop on the island, and everything she loves about life in Hawaii.

photo via emma’s blog, the aloha babe, by liza davis 

What do you love about living in Honolulu?

There are too many things to count! I love the relaxed energy, the melting pot of cultures and traditions, the people and of course the weather that feels like it’s an endless Summer.

What does “Hawaiian style” mean to you?

To me, a Hawaii sense of style is relaxed, cool and colorful. It’s whatever you want it to be – we’re a casual community and anything goes.

Favorite Hawaii based designer or clothing brand?

I honestly have so many! One of my favorite local clothing brands I wear all the time is Ava Sky and I wish I could have one of everything they make.

photo via emma’s blog, the aloha babe, by liza davis 

What was the hardest thing about being in the pageant world?

It’s a lot of pressure to get up on stage and put yourself out there to be judged not only by literal judges, but by everyone.

People would tell me to lose weight, then some would tell me I was too skinny, that my hair should be lighter, then some would say my hair should be darker. You can’t always win when you let everyone else’s opinions get in the way, so you learn to listen to yourself and be true to yourself. Pageants taught me that.

Okay, let’s talk shopping! What are a few of your favorite shops and boutiques on the island?

Here – I dare you to shop here and not find something you love. An amazing mix of everything from clothes to jewelry to beauty.

Fighting Eel – This local brand puts out collections monthly and is all designed and made here in Hawaii.

Eden in Love – I’ve shopped here for years and especially love their mission of giving back. They’ve partnered with over 50 local and national non-profits giving back through retail, we created a “Gifts That Give” campaign that tied local designers with charities of their choice.

Paikoa botanical boutique with a fresh, tropical, modern aesthetic. Don’t miss their workshops that teach everything from flower crowns to succulent gardens.

Mono – stop by this little shop on King Street called MONO, which means “things” in Japanese. It sells small design goods to improve your home, office and lifestyle.

Okay Emma, now for a few rapid fire questions…

Favorite beach in Hawaii?

Lanikai Beach.

Favorite swimwear line?

Acacia Swimwear and Issa de’ Mar are definitely up there.

Best Honolulu shop for guys?

Salvage Public has great pieces or Sig Zane is awesome for aloha shirts.

Best Honolulu shop for interior decor?

I love Red Knot and Fishcake.

photo via emma’s blog, the aloha babe

And finally (we HAVE to ask) any top secret Hawaiian beauty secrets you can share with us?

Coconut oil! While I know this beauty trend is catching on worldwide, it’s definitely something we use all the time here whether it’s at the beach, in your hair, or as a full-body moisturizer.

NOTED. Thanks Emma!

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Jenny Sathngam