I was in New York in December for the TPG Awards, and on the ride to the party I shared an Uber with some other travel influencers. One of them was my friend Christina Vidal aka jetsetchristina. She was with her cool boyfriend Kenny Flowers, who had traveled in for the event from Bali. Yes, Bali. As we got to talking, I became fascinated with his story. First, I was impressed that these two non-Indonesians live in Bali, and second, that Kenny has followed his dream and created a company (named after himself): Kenny Flowers, which makes great travel shirts and apparel.
Kenny grew up in Colorado and went to college at UNC-Chapel Hill, after which he spent three years working as a consultant for IBM. Over the years, he traveled the world always wearing his dad’s hand-me-down Hawaiian shirts. As he writes on the company’s website, “That faded pink beauty was constantly there, constantly on, and constantly an inspiration to live life with half the buttons down. Not for a second was it just a shirt. Life is a serious business, but the most serious thing to remember is to have the best time you can, even when times aren’t so great. Work hard, stay inspired, pursue your dreams, but just remember; it’s not that tough to enjoy yourself along the way, no matter what you are doing. Be the smile you want and the party you’re looking for. That is what Kenny Flowers is about. A better fit. A fresher design. And a simple reminder to keep a smile on and have a good time, one button down at a time.”
In his mid-20s, Kenny left his job at IBM and moved halfway across the globe to live in his grandma’s extra room to “start pumping out sleek, short-sleeve Hawaiian button ups.” As he writes on the company’s website, “This isn’t just your dad’s old Hawaiian T. This is his swag, his mojo, his very essence of life… in you. It is his reminder that if you keep things cool, classy enough, and spiked with a little fun, you’ll find your groove wherever you go. And hey, one day it just might be your son’s too.”
Kenny was kind enough to send me a pair of swim trunks ($75) and a shirt ($70), and I love both. When they arrived, I was expecting my wife to rag on them because she never likes any of my Hawaiian shirts (in Hawaii, they actually call them “aloha shirts”), but surprisingly Natalie liked them. “Wow,” she said. “I love those. Where did you get them?” Kenny Flowers! I guess I too had been wearing my dad’s hand-me-down Hawaiian shirt for too long. It was time for a Kenny Flowers upgrade.
FYI: The shirts are made in Bali but shipped from the U.S., so shipping is quick. If you spend $100 or more you get free shipping.