PHOTOS BY maaike bernstrom / 📍 NEWPORT, RI
Sharing experiences, waves, & more
The Love Language of Twin Sisters
We met up with Alie and Liza Toppa on a chilly morning in Newport, Rhode Island. After catching some winter waves, we chatted all things surf, sisterhood, and entrepreneurship in the spirit of our new Valentine's Day print, Love Language. <3
Read the Q&A with Alie & Liza
Tell us a little about yourself…
Twin sisters and east coast enthusiasts, we’re In love with the ocean and everything it's given back to us. With the sport of sailing being the backbone of everything we’ve known growing up, that has evolved into a way of life and has really paved the way for us to be so influenced by the ocean, whether that be through the sport or a burning passion. This love of ours for the ocean has grown into so much more than just a source of inspiration but has carried us into our professional lives.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
We were born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and now live full time in Newport, RI. From growing up in South Florida to now living in coastal New England, the balance of these opposites has given us a well rounded appreciation for embracing all seasons.
How long have you been surfing and spending time on the water?
We learned to swim before we could walk, so we’ve basically spent our whole lives in the water. We learned to sail at around 6 years old and started racing at a young age, so surfing became our hobby when we weren’t sailing, which we absolutely fell in love with.
You spend so much time on the water… how do you read the waves?
It’s become such second nature and truly, the ability to be so in tune with the wind and the waves is a gift. Understanding the swell direction, the tides, and where the wind is coming from determines so much of where to find the best waves. Especially up in the North East, where we have so many options. We’re lucky this way, with such a rocky coastline there are lots of nooks and crannies that create some amazing waves. Adding also to the traditional beach breaks we have access to. It’s a whole adventure before even getting in the water, and that adds to the fun of it!
Where is your favorite place you’ve visited?
One of our favorite places so far has been Oahu, Hawaii. The ocean out there is so strong and powerful, that the waves can for sure humble you. It’s a really cool feeling, and we feel like the elements of this place have made us stronger as people.
As twins, do you feel like you share a special language?
As cliche as this sounds, we definitely have this connection between us, where we can just feel what the other feels, without even telling each other. It’s a blessing and a curse, but it’s made everything we do together that much better, and it keeps us really close.
What is your sister love language?
As twin sisters we’ve definitely mastered the art of sharing! So whether that's with experiences, waves, or our favorite foods, sharing what we love together is our own kind of love language. That feeling we get together at the end of a long day…when our lips are all chapped and hair is salty from a windy and sunny day spent sailing or maybe our hands and feet are finally thawing out by the fire after paddling around in frigid water all day. Sharing these moments together while snacking on some tinned fish (Fishwife if we’re being specific!) and drinking a hard kombucha. That’s the Toppa Twin sister love language right there.
When the sun sparkles on the ocean, empty line ups, sunny days, and frothy coffee :)
How did the idea for Missfits Co. come about?
As surfers, sailors, and lovers of our planet, we wanted to embody all we do and believe in through a product, which is how the creation of our sustainable wetsuits was born. It all sort of clicked through the journey of it all, doing what we love and building it into a brand all at once. The people we’ve met, the places we’ve been to, and the experiences we’ve gained through has been priceless.
What does it mean to you both to see your vision come to life?
We feel so blessed to be able to do what we do through being so authentically ourselves. Through working with each other and pursuing our dreams into our own business keeps us on our own track, and inspires us to keep going.
What have been the hardest and best parts of building a business?
Like most things in life, the best ones don’t come easy! This is true for our growth with Missfits and it being the most challenging and rewarding thing we’ve ever taken on. With it being just about 2 years in business now, some of the hardest parts have been finding the balance between what turning a passion into a business actually looks like and what comes as a result of that. Through the design and development of our wetsuits, we have learned so much about what that balance requires. This is very important to us to keep our motivation high and inspiration on fire! We’d say one of the best parts of building Missfits has been the gateway to the entrepreneurship side of the industry, in the way that it allows us to channel our authenticity and creativity exactly the way we want to. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some pretty cool people as a result of it all.
What does your perfect day look like?
While it's easy to say a perfect day for us is spent either surfing good waves, sailing a pretty boat on a windy day, or posted up on a warm beach with cold drinks and dear friends…. Well yes maybe that's exactly what a perfect day looks like to us haha. But it's the appreciation of all the little moments that add up in between, to create these days for us. We’re lucky to be able to do what we love. To share that with the world through our business and personal lives puts smiles on our faces and that's a whole love language in itself.