Kahele Maui circa 2010
These two little faces are the reason for Kahele Maui. I became a single mom when my girls, Makena and Waimea, were 5 and 2. Looking back, I'm not sure how I held it all together. Most days I would strap surfboards and paddle boards to our blue minivan and catch little waves at our favorite Kihei surf spot, the Cove or if we had a cooler packed, we would drive across the Pali Highway to Thousand Peaks and catch bigger waves.
Three nights a week I made Mai Tai's and martinis as a bartender at the Five Palms beachfront bar and later at the Four Seasons Maui Resort.
On my nights off, I sewed bags, headwraps, and later, the Hele Board Wrap. Sewing was my meditation. Once the girls were in bed for the night, I turned our livingroom into my sewing studio. I cut bolts of fabric on our kitchen island. I stacked up bag parts in rows across the counter. I sorted through baskets of beautiful fabrics to find just the right ones to cut.
You see, I love fabrics, I really, really love fabrics! I love choosing different patterns and styles that compliment each other. Completely different fabrics that, displayed next to each other, tell the unique stories of Maui and the Hawaiian islands. Surf prints, Tropical flowers, Palaka, seashells, beach scenes all displayed together in just the right way. Like I said, I loved fabrics! Luckily, people liked my designs and supported my fabric habit.
After a few years of steady business growth I had outgrown our livingroom. I packed up my bins of fabric and sewing supplies (that were by now taking over our house), I somehow got my Juki Industrial sewing machine (that weighs a ton) up 16 steps and into the back of my truck and I moved into my very own brick and mortar storefront in Kihei, South Maui.
8 years and 1 worldwide pandemic later, I'm still in that South Maui storefront. And still making beautiful bags and accessories.