Made in Hawaii: The Comeback
In this week’s issue, the Weekly celebrates the Made in Hawaii label, one that nearly disappeared just a few decades ago. On the cover, you’ll find the Primo Brewing & Malting Company, a 1913 image of workers who once believed that their beer would make Milwaukee jealous. Their history dates back to 1898, and after surviving a handful of owners who took the Primo name and left the Islands, the brand was finally returned to Kauai in 2007, where it’s brewed and bottled in Lihue, thanks to Pabst Brewing Co.
This holiday season, we hope you’ll make the primo choice, one that considers the Made in Hawaii philosophy. If we spend our money on the people and the products of this community, we in effect protect what our community stands for. And that is the true essence of giving.
For every $100 spent in independent, locally owned stores, $68 comes back into the community. So this holiday, please consider made in Hawaii companies and products. You’ll create meaning and strengthen our local connections.
Included in this issue are hand-picked sustaining gifts, ones we hope will remind you of things which reflect true value.
Hardened by History
Lost Kingdom Klothing
A new line of tees uses material that’s vintage, soft, blue-gray and tea-stained, and the cotton isn’t the only thing distressed. The words “Hardened by History” run horizontally up the left side, and at the bottom of the shirt, a State seal is stamped “Rejected.”
Owners Kaliko Pullar and Kavika Puahi started Lost Kingdom Klothing in 2007, and nearly five years later, they’ve turned their business into what could become the next “Made in Hawaii” success story. Raised in downtown Honolulu, they say that although they grew up “touched” by their Hawaiian heritage, they were never really immersed in it.
“Our upbringings didn’t lead us to traditional forms of cultural expressions such as dancing hula, surfing, hunting, paddling or even speaking the language,” says Pullar. “In some respects, we were outcasts, but nonetheless, we loved our culture, its past and the Hawaiian blood coursing through our veins. We just couldn’t find an outlet to reflect what we felt inside.”
A random news program about a mainland based tee shirt company inspired Lost Kingdom Klothing, says Pullar. “We believe that wearing our philosophies on our bodies is very empowering.”
Taro, Taro, Taro!
Hawaii Island Gourmet Products/Atebara Chips
When you’re thinking about what to give someone this holiday season, perhaps think about what it means to give the gift of history, Hawaii and sustainability all in one beautiful basket.
Atebara Chips was the first producers of taro chips, beginning distribution in 1941 after the military began rationing potatoes during the war. These chips started a fad leading the way for turnip chips and carrot chips, and eventually, taro chips caught the attention of the global paparrazzi when President Obama announced they were his favorite island snack.
Even after celebrating 75 years, Atebara Chips still strives to promote food security and sustainability by utilizing locally grown produce–including Okinawan sweet potatoes, taro, macadamia nuts and ginger–from their own farm and 15 other family farms throughout the Islands.
Nimr Tamimi, a company representative, says that although their farm is used for food production, there’s an even greater product they’re able to produce in Hawaii.
“The farm enables our youth to experience farming,” says Tamimi.
Their gift baskets come in hand woven lauhala baskets, with prices starting at $25. The Hawaiian Lauhala basket comes with three different bags of their famous original chips, two boxes of gourmet taro cookies, a chocolate bark and crunch bar and specialty chip cookies ($50). Atebara chips are handmade daily in Hilo–the same location they’ve been in since 1946, when a tsunami wiped out the first operation located in the historic Shinmachi area.
“We’re still making and packaging our chips like we did 75 years ago,” says Tamimi. “Our goal is to share a little bit of Hilo sunshine with the rest of the world.”
What It Means to Walk Barefoot
In 1953, Edith and Keiji Kawakami sat on the beach watching the waves, reflecting on old Hawaii and the meaning of beauty and style. That day, island fashion took a step forward, and in a rickety old shack with dirt floors, nestled just above ‘Iolani Place, the Kawakami’s brought to life Iolani Sportswear. Today, they’re one of the oldest and most respected clothing companies in Hawaii, commemorating more than half a century of made-in-Hawaii island fashions.
They’re known for their kabe silk kimono print shirts, brightly colored fabrics imported to Hawaii from Japan, and collectors from around the world share their passion for the ubiquitous aloha shirt. These are their trademarks, their details as recognizable as the ancestral Palace name.
Their designers include Kiyomi Hirose and Jackson Morisawa, who trained under legendary couture designers and who embraced the Iolani business philosophy, which encourages innovation, style, an understanding of history and what it means to carry tradition onward. Decades after the first stitch was sewn, Iolani continues to offer an island lifestyle, one where shoes are still optional.
Inspiring Us to Listen
There are few places on Oahu where a gallerist spends as much time sifting through Made in Hawaii products as does Laurie Baron, owner of Nohea Gallery. Nohea is a space that not only provides a loyal outlet for local artists and craftspeople, but also keeps them inspired.
Passion radiates from Baron’s voice the minute someone inquires about Peter Okumoto (ceramic artist) or Rene Darrow (realist painter) or ti leaf rings made by Ulana o Kukui. She’s drawn to these artists, because she says, “They’re all so different, each [piece of art] with its own personality.”
Each painting and sculpture and pair of napkin rings has its own voice, its own story, and after a while, the excuse not to buy local, for whatever reason, becomes much more difficult.