Aloha, cowgirls! While many folks may think of the continental U.S. when we mention the West, the Aloha Cowgirl proves the lifestyle spreads far past than the California coast.
Joelle Souza, known digitally as The Aloha Cowgirl, has built a social following around her lifestyle as a Hawaiian cowgirl. She loves and lives the western lifestyle, from barrel racing to concho belts.
We just had to know what it’s like as a cowgirl in Hawaii, so we spoke with Joelle about her life in the industry. With some strategic social media posting, plenty of hard work, and a lot of turquoise, Joelle has propelled herself into the western spotlight.
COWGIRL: When and how were you introduced to the Western lifestyle?
Joelle Souza: My grandfather was a Paniolo (cowboy) here in Hawaii and worked on a cattle ranch. My mom also had horses growing up, but it it really wasn’t until my early 20’s that I got interested in the rodeo lifestyle and started barrel racing.
CG: What is it like being a cowgirl in Hawaii?
JS: I’d say we have the best of both worlds out here. Riding on the beach is my absolute favorite, especially for meditation. I recently picked up a few horses since moving back home. My horse Wailele is expecting and I’m excited to train her and get back in the saddle.
CG: What does the Western culture look like in Hawaii?
JS: The western culture is very much alive here in Hawaii. I even started an instagram page @westernhawaiimagazine to show off the culture and lifestyle here. There is so much talent out here in Hawaii when it comes to rodeo and ranching. My goal for the page is to get our western lifestyle out there and give the Hawaiian cowboys out here a little more recognition.
CG: What inspires your blog posts?
JS: Lately I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from brands that want to see their products here in Hawaii. It’s fresh for them to see their products shot on the beaches and ranches out here. I have a lot of different projects going on right now, and theres so much to write about. As a new western lifestyle blogger here in Hawaii, I’m learning how to categorize my blogs to show a little bit of everything—from western fashion to life on working cattle ranches. I also find a lot of inspiration from a few of my favorite western fashion bloggers like Shaley Ham (@westdesperado), Jolene Hamilton (@wildvogue.western), and Kens (@southwesterngringa); their styles are always on point! I try to see how I can add a little taste of “western Aloha” to my pics. Lately shooting bikinis and bodysuits and adding that western flair has been my fav.
CG: You’re clearly a fashionista! How would you describe your style?
JS: Depends on the day! You will usually find me in my worn out cowgirl boots, jeans, and a tank. When theres an event to go to, you’ll find me in my blingy-est western fashionista outfit. I love everything sequin and fringe. My friends call me extra. They are slowly getting used to my extra fringe, printed bell bottoms, and concho belts here on the island.
CG: What is one fashion item you can’t live without?
JS: My belt with my 2019 first western fashion show buckle. I call it my “buckle of confidence.” It reminds me of how far I’ve come in the western industry; its a big reminder of accomplishment for me. I will not leave the house without it.
CG: Your store, The Prickly Pineapple Boutique, earned the 2020 Boutique Hub Award for Hawaii Storefront Of the Year. Tell us how the store came to be.
JS: I started my boutique online in 2019 after moving home from Arizona. I’ve always gotten so many compliments on my outfits from the girls here in Hawaii and wanted to give them a western fashion shopping experience here in Hawaii. I had no idea it would take off so fast. We have a few western stores here in Hawaii, but nothing like a western fashion boutique. Definitely not here on Kauai.
My storefront opened in November of 2019 here on Kauai. Opening my boutique has led me to hosting Hawaii’s first ever western fashion shows. It’s been such a rewarding experience to share my love of western fashion out here. Having some of my favorite brands sponsor them—Kimes Ranch Jeans, Hooey, Fiora Boots, Rock Paper Scissors Denim, Buffalo Grounds, Aloha Rodeo, Sundial Show Clothing—and some of my favorite influencers fly over to be a part of it was insane.
CG: How has COVID-19 affected you and your businesses?
JS: COVID-19 hit hard here on Kauai. Unfortunately, I had to close my store front and go back to being an online boutique. The location of my store attracted a lot of tourists and when COVID happened, our tourism industry died pretty hard here on the island.
CG: You’re a mom. What do your daughters think about the western lifestyle and do they want to be cowgirls?
JS: My daughters, Savannah Faith and Montana Grace, both love horses and the lifestyle. They both have their own horses and I can barely get them off. Savannah is 10 and her papa owns CJM Country Stables here on Kauai so she has been in rodeo since she was five. She is learning to rope and spends about 80% of her time down at the ranch doing cowgirl things with papa. Savannah has some big dreams; she wants to be like Fallon Taylor and hopes to be in the NFR one day. Montana is almost five and will for sure follow in her footsteps. I definitely have little tough cowgirl fashionistas on my hands.
CG: What has been your favorite moment of your career so far?
JS: There have been so many highlights so far. Traveling to Texas to meet Janzen Tew to walk in my first Denim & Velvet western fashion show is definitely and unforgettable experience. That led to walking again in their show at the National Finals Rodeo for the past two years and having my first big photoshoot with Rock & Roll Denim. I’ve met so many big-hearted, amazing people in this industry. So far, this has been a dream come true for this small-town island girl.
CG: Where do you see yourself, your blog, and your boutique in five years?
JS: In the next five years, I can see myself hosting more western fashion shows here in Hawaii…maybe even an Aloha Western themed one at the NFR. I can definitely see The Prickly Pineapple Boutique in Vegas one day! I’m in the process of rebranding myself and my blog as an influencer and hope to be checking off my brands and influencers that I dream of working with list in the next years. Double D Ranch is definitely on my top for that list.