My Hana Story
In order for you to understand why I started HanaMarketplace.com I think it will help to share my “Hana story” with you… if I may be so bold and if you will follow along without being critical.
My wife Kathy and I discovered Hana back in 1985 after deciding to visit Hawaii for our 1 year anniversary. We didn’t know Hana from Waikiki, but while reading a travel mag named Conde Nast I spotted a small classified ad offering a rental house on 5 acres for $60/day in Hana Maui. After reading what little information I could gather (prehistoric pre-internet days) we thought it sounded a lot like the Hawaii we had always dreamt of so we went for it. As a courier for Fedex at the time we had to scrape together what we could and the rest went on credit cards….
The road to Hana, the beautiful everything, the sweet smells, the morning rains, the birds, the flowers… all of that was incredible, but that’s not at all what my story is about. My story is about falling in love with what really makes Hana so very special.
Our first day in Hana we were very fortunate to meet Pani and eventully the entire Malaikini o’hana down at Hana Bay. Pani and his friends were jumping off the pier and bombing (splashing) our rental car and when I jumped out and showed ‘em how we did it in Virginia I think they were a lil’ surprised. We carried on right up until Pani’s dad Tiny (in pic) drove up to pick up Pani in his “Tiny’s Tours” van with Lynette at his side (as she always was). We exchanged greetings and then we went back to our spot and they went home.
The next morning at 8 a.m. continuous loud honking woke us up from some a serious jetlag enhanced sleep. We were surprised to see Tiny and the entire o’hana aboard ready to take us on an adventure like none other. We went to blue pond, O’heo Gulch (Seven Pools), and countless other places that are off the map.
The next 2 weeks were perhaps the best 2 weeks of our lives as Tiny and his family took us to places most people only dream about when they imagine what Hawaii is like. Kathy and also went yellowfin (tuna) fishing on a small fishing boat with Tiny’s brother Robert and Mark Collins. Catching a 150 lb yellowfin and enjoying it that evening under the stars down at Waikaloa was heavenly. No doubt where the term “Heavenly Hana” must have originated.
I could go on for pages about the wonderous time we had , but suffice it to say we met at least half of the folks in town and fell in love with them as well. Hana had changed us for the better.
The trip truly did change our lives as I decided to start a business when we returned to Virginia so that we might be able to afford to visit Hana again and preferably several times each year. So with two $3k cash advances on my Visa and MasterCard I started a computer wholesale business working out of our one bedroom apartment. This was in January 1986. Over the next 8 years it grew to over $60 million a year in sales before I sold it to a public company.
More importantly, during those “hair-on-fire” busy 8 years I visited Hana each and every year, sometimes with my wife Kathy, and sometimes solo. Every business trip I made to California included a “stopover” in Hana! It was always the highlight of the year. Only the trip back was a downer and that was the hard journey back for Tiny’s funeral.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that after selling our business I convinced my wife to move to Maui with our 3 young boys, Brian, Kevin, and Dustin. Only caveat was that she wanted to live in Kula. Brian, our eldest, has special needs and she convinced me Kula would be better suited for him. So we sold everything (literally) and moved to Kula Maui in 1994.
If you’re with me thus far hang on because this is where it gets entertaining…
A few short weeks after moving over with the clothes on our backs and our three toddlers I came across a book named “A Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty” and it caught my attention because in all of the conversations with hundreds of locals over the years not once did anyone mention the cause or have anything to say about the history of Hawaii. Frankly, I was surprised.
So I bought the book and started reading it that evening. I read the entire book that night as I had to know what happened next. Kind of a mix between a thriller and horror story, only it was actual history.
After finishing the book at 5 a.m. I was stunned and very saddened. I’m a very proud American and it hurt me that the country I love (still love) had conducted itself this way. I was also impressed that the Hawaiians I had come to love had never expressed any opinion on the subject. As an Irish blooded man I don’t know if I would have been able to stay mum during my younger years if I were in their shoes.
(Available on Amazon for as little as a couple of dollars: Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty)
I thought long and hard about what I had learned and in the end decided that the best thing I could do to help make things “right” was to help my Hawaiian family and friends benefit from the tremendous business opportunities that the Hawaiian islands had been “blessed” with from the rush of new residents and visitors. The Hawaiians have been left behind for the most part and as an entrepreneur I thought I could help.
So a few months later Pani, Tiny’s son, and Boy Kana’e started a Hawaiian restaurant in Lahaina and named it “Tiny’s of Maui” to honor Tiny Malaikini. The food was ono and the locals love it, but I was severely undercapitalized and the business failed despite a valiant effort put forth by all involved. I closed Tiny’s down and as my resources dwindled had to retreat back here to Virginia.
A few years later I had heard that the Hana Marketplace was in shambles and the dream of giving locals a chance to benefit from the tourism in Hana had become a source of grief for most involved. So I decided to start up an online version of the marketplace to offer others who have fallen in love with Hawaii and Hawaiian culture an easy way to connect with Hawaiian entrepreneurs, artists, and the Hawaiian community. So I reserved the HanaMarketplace.com domain and periodically dusted it off and added content between jobs.
The time to launch is approaching as I no longer have a job to interfere with my passion.
Before I do I need some sponsors and/or artists and entrepreneurs:
If you are, or know of, a local artist or entrepreneur that offers something Hawaiian please contact me at ‘kawika[at]hanamarketplace.com’. For those of you who don’t offer something considered Hawaiian I hope you will understand my mission and respect why I can’t work with every artist and entrepreneur that happens to reside in Hawaii. I’m open to a variety of arrangements including probono work for the right “cause” (i.e. your o’hana), or for a percent of gross profit. First step is to start marketing and generate some traffic and sales… .
What do sponsors get? In return for any contribution I’d offer ad space of course and some blog posts. More importantly, I’d use opportunities I run into when social networking (tweeting, on facebook, etc…) to mention your business or organization when it’s relevant. No spammer here so don’t worry about tacky actions. In other words, I’d be an online ally helping to separate your organization from the rest of the herd stuck in a business1.0 mindset.
What do I want in return for this sponsorship?
What ever you think is fair and can handle. If you “get it” and want to be a part of something… be a sponsor. Be a aprt of the start of business2.0 (or is it already business3.0).
Mahalo for reading.