Laura King, known throughout Hawaii’s dance community as “Jesennia,” moved here in 2005. Five years earlier, she had already started a company called AKai Silks in Colorado, after being inspired by “the quality of life [in Hawaii], the ‘ohana, and optimal weather conditions for creating silk,” which encouraged her to eventually call Oahu home.
The self-taught artist, registered nurse and professional bellydancer was inspired by silk for practical reasons. “I was taking bellydance lessons but I couldn’t afford the veils for class, so I bought a few supplies and made my own,” she says.
The success of AKai Silks, she says, is due to the one-of-a-kind colorways she uses, and that the Waikiki sunshine and soft ocean breezes dry the silks naturally, “and make them buttery soft.”
Her prices range from $14 for scarves to $169 for painted, poncho-like ruanas, and they’re available for sale online only.