PHOTO BY LAURA BABAHEKIAN
T: If you were given the option to live permanently in the sea, would you take it?
KP: I’ve always said that I want to be a Manatee. I could eat all the ocean plants my belly desires, mosey around all day, and look incredibly cute no matter how much algae is growing on my back. But being asked this question, I’m not positive that I would trade what I’ve got for that. My deep passion for the ocean arose from growing up landlocked, and then discovering the endless wonder that the sea provides. Sometimes when we are in a place for too long we take it for granted. I’ll always appreciate dreaming in my cozy bed about holding my breath for hours and swimming with the mesmerizing creatures of the deep blue, only to wake up and feel more drawn to the ocean than ever.
PHOTO BY KURT CHAMBERS
T: We like to say the Thessalonike style is somewhere between Bond Girl and mermaid. Which one do you feel like you relate to more?
KP: I would have to go with Bond Girl. But a bond girl that wears wolf t-shirts and jean shorts if that’s possible. 😂
T: Is there a particularly special moment or interaction you've had in the ocean that will stay with you forever?
KP: Every time I enter the ocean I learn something new. Something about how incredible our bodies really are, or simple things like a new type of coral or seeing the juvenile form of a common fish for the first time. However, one time in particular really sticks with me. I was on my way home from a photo shoot with my good friend Asia, and decided to stop at Kua Bay for a sunset dip and rock running session. I’m making my dives and suddenly a shadow passes by the corner of my eye. Slightly startled, I drop the rock and decide to abort the dive. When I’m headed up I see that a baby tiger shark is what had been stalking me. Incredibly humbled, I sank back to the bottom to enjoy every moment I could from the brief, but breath-taking (literally) experience. As I drove home in the warmth of the last of that day’s sunlight, I recalled my previous unsuccessful attempts at pursuing tiger sharks for photos, and realized how much more special it was to have had that encounter by chance.
PHOTO BY KURT CHAMBERS OF KATIE IN THE NIKITA NECKLACE
T: Name something you've checked off your bucket list and another you can't wait to check off soon.
KP: Easy. Swimming with a whale shark: check! Swimming with a school of sunfish (Mola mola): Hopefully soon to be checked!
T: There are so many things we may never know about what goes on in the head's of marine life. If you could ask any animal why they do the things they do, what would it be?
KP: Oh what I would give to be Eliza Thornberry. An endless amount of questions come to mind here, so I’ll try to keep it relevant to some recent encounters I’ve had. The other day I assisted in a beginners freediving course at Anini beach in Kaua’i. As the class swam in to begin their static breath holds, I noticed a pile of sea slugs. I’m talking about thousands and thousands of sea slugs. These guys looked like they were on a mission, so if you had asked me this question right then and there, I would have answered that I would ask the slugs where they were headed and why I wasn't invited to the nudibranch convention. But then this little flounder came along, minding his own business and scuttling around like flounders do, almost swimming right into the pile of slugs. As he realized he had just come across the single-file army of slugs, he observed for a second, then turned around and swam away about ten times faster than he entered the scene. So, my final question would be to that flounder, wondering why he was so afraid of those tiny beings that he probably could have just eaten his way through.
PHOTO BY KURT CHAMBERS OF KATIE IN THE NIKITA NECKLACE
T: What are you three favorite Thessalonike items?
KP: Well, have you ever seen a pareo with actual pictures of sharks anywhere else? Not to mention, a manta ray that wraps around your finger, or shark teeth made of gold around your neck? The best thing about Thessalonike though, is the message and the cause that we support when we purchase their products. Saving the ocean and looking spiffy. When we put our money towards brands like these, we are not only putting our hard earned money towards our beautiful planet, but we are keeping it away from companies that only mar the environment.
T: What's your main advice to others interested in making their day to day lives more eco-friendly and safer for the ocean?
KP: I could write a book about things we could change in our lives to save the environment and our finned friends, but I can sum it up with one phrase. Think outside the box. This cliché phrase can mean so much when it comes to thinking ecologically. Question every traditional thing you do, the ethics of it, and how you can be more resourceful about it. Things like collecting the cold water that comes from the shower when waiting for it to turn hot to use for something (e.g., put in your Brita filter). Reusing one of the countless elastic hair ties we find on the beach so you don’t have to buy any. Going to thrift stores to find barely used drinking containers that you would otherwise have bought new. Etc. Our Planet has so many resources that are just going to waste. So be creative with what we've got. Recycling is great, but it doesn't stop the production of plastics. Most importantly, spend as much time as you can with the natural world. You will constantly be reminded of your motivation to save our beautiful Mother Earth.
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