A group of local businesses are set to open today (Nov. 11) at the new South Shore Market in Ward Village. Many of them, including Eden in Love and Mori by Art + Flea, will be recognizable to customers.
But for three of the shops — Kealopiko, Cameron Hawaii and Salvage Public — the opening is particularly momentous: It’s their very first brick-and-mortar space.
South Shore Market, Ward Village vice president of community development Todd Apo explains, was designed to be a place that could help bolster small local businesses.
“We are really excited for those stores where this is their first brick and mortar,” Apo says. “They have had an online presence, but they are really moving into that next step … Knowing that Ward Village gets to serve as a little bit of a retail incubator to groups like this and watch them grow and be in a position to help them — I think that is a lot of the excitement that went into putting this group together.”
Here is a closer look at the businesses that are opening their first storefront.
While traveling a decade ago, Jamie Makasobe and Ane Bakutis were sitting in downtown Papeete, Tahiti, when they were struck by the fashions of the passers-by — bold, bright colors that incorporated native Tahitian imagery.
“We got to see what they were wearing and how it was a true representation of the landscapes and the culture of which they come from,” recalls Makasobe.
The next stop was Rapa Nui, where they noticed similar themes in the locals’ clothing. It prompted them to reflect on Hawaii fashions, and on the plane ride back to Oahu, the two friends began sketching out the bones of what became Kealopiko (“belly of the fish” in Hawaiian), a clothing company that focuses on blending native Hawaiian imagery and stories into its designs.
Teaming up with another friend, Hina Kneubuhl, the trio spent nights and weekends working on the brand.
When they hosted a pop-up boutique out of their home and were met with a packed turnout, they knew they were on to something.
The three women have various professional backgrounds — Makasobe helped launch Paepae O He‘eia fishpond and now works in photography and film, Bakutis is a botanist and Kneubuhl is a Hawaiian language specialist — all of which come into play in Kealopiko. Their prints often feature native plants or fish, like the tees that have a school of umaumalei, and incorporate Hawaiian language.
“A lot of the things that are affiliated with Hawaii are not necessarily native or endemic to this place,” Makasobe explains. “We felt there was an opportunity where we could really highlight native things and authenticity of Hawaii using the medium of fashion.”
Getting inspiration from Native Hawaiian culture, they say, is a never-ending well from which to draw.
“There are so many interesting, beautiful things in Hawaii that come from here. Why not create a platform for them?” Makasobe says.
“Really, it just comes down to the perpetuation of our culture, the authenticity of our culture and having those stories infiltrate and be received by our home community, as well as the visiting community.”
Over the years, they have grown their following through pop-up events and markets. With the enthusiastic feedback that they have gotten from their customers over the years, more than anything, Makasobe says, they feel a responsibility to carry on their work. Having a brick-and-mortar location, she says, will help them do that. They plan to host regular events in South Shore Market’s common area.
“We wanted to approach retail differently,” Makasobe says. “Our events have always been a place of gathering … so that is what we hope to provide in this space as well.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT KEALOPIKO.COM.
After spending his childhood in Hawaii, Robert M. Ikeda has lived in and traveled to cities around the world. And he’s found that it’s those explorations that are the primary source for his inspiration as a designer.
“When you travel, you get fresh eyes and you see different things and you just kind of take them in and design around them,” Ikeda explains.
That perspective has a lot of parallels with the fictional “Cameron,” his muse when crafting pieces for his women’s resort beachwear line Cameron Hawaii. The character, he explains, is a girl who was born in Hawaii and then traveled the world. Similarly, Ikeda explains, the brand is about “taking fun things I see around the world” and then creating a design around it that contextualizes it for Hawaii.
Cameron Hawaii features a signature line of T-shirts — its off-the-shoulder and crop tops are the most popular — as well as bags and clutches. Prints feature images like pineapples, palm trees or shells, along with graphics with simple text — its “Aloha” tees, for instance, are among their most popular. In the shop, there also will be a selection of curated goods from other brands.
Ikeda was born into the fashion industry — his parents ran a local knit factory in the 70s and 80s — and his father taught him how to make and dye fabrics. As he got older, Ikeda dabbled in other creative endeavors, including music, but seemed to always find his way back to fashion.
“I like the grind of creating from nothing to a beautiful product,” says Ikeda, who also runs a menswear line in California called DtE.
It always has been Ikeda’s dream to return to the Islands to continue to grow the brand. And his shop at South Shore Market could, Ikeda hopes, be just the first of more expansive retail — he aims to open additional shops in the future and is toying with the idea of creating a local production factory.
Being away from Hawaii provided him with a particular kind of perspective — one of thinking back on Hawaii from afar. And he anticipates that his new locale will provide a fresh vantage point from which to conceptualize his work.
“Now we have a new perspective, now we can look from Hawaii out the other way, so that is a new fun thing that is going to happen.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT CAMERONHAWAII.COM.
Founded in 2012, mens-wear line Salvage Public already has achieved a number of prestigious milestones, including international wholesale accounts and a mention in The New York Times Magazine, but it all originated from modest beginnings — on a porch in Palolo.
That’s where co-founders Napali Souza and brothers Joseph and Noah Serrao first began to throw ideas around for a creative collaboration. Back then, they admit, they had very little design experience. Souza was working as an attorney, Joseph in commercial real estate and Noah in renewable energy. But they all had an interest in style and began crafting T-shirts as a side project.
“We just felt like we had something to contribute and we had a lot of ideas — this became a platform to share those ideas,” Souza explains.
Salvage Public is best known for its clean, minimalistic T-shirt designs that call upon Hawaii locales or surf-inspired phrases, like “Sans Souci” or “Going Off.” It also offers board shorts and aloha shirts.
A good deal of the buzz surrounding their brand, they say, can be credited to their Instagram following. There, their images and clothing,
Souza says, are “presenting an image of Hawaii that I think people hadn’t seen before.”
“I think it just caught people’s attention,” Souza continues.
“Yes, of course Hawaii is fun — who is not going to come here with a smile and have fun? But the overall tone of the brand is somewhat serious,” Joseph adds.
In designing their products, they think about what would work in the local market — as well as how it could translate to casual-yet-fashionable wear for a day out in any major city. It’s high fashion meets surf culture.
“We start with imagery first,” Joseph explains of their creative process. “Then we go onto thinking of different kinds of text, maybe a phrase, and then we think of a color palette.”
Overall, they hope the brand can offer “a connection to Hawaii that makes sense to (their customers),” whether they’re in New York or on Oahu, as Souza tells it. “That is our big overarching goal, and that is what is behind what we are doing — to be a menswear brand from Hawaii that you recognize outside of Hawaii but that is respected and loved by people here.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT SALVAGEPUBLIC.COM.
MORE PLACES TO SHOP
In addition to these three shops, there are a number of other stores and eateries at South Shore Market. Many open today, with more slated to launch next month and early 2017. Here’s what else you can expect.
Big Island Delights – homemade cookies and other treats
Big Bad Wolf – street wear-inspired clothing for kids
Brick Oven Pizza – Italian-inspired pizza from Kauai (2017 opening)
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – specialty coffee and tea (December opening)
Eden in Love – women’s clothing including dresses, jewelry and gifts
Fishcake Pop-Up – home furnishings, accessories and artwork
Flotsam & Co. – jewelry hand-crafted with found materials
Holoholo Market – quick meals, fresh local produce and more (December opening)
La Muse – luxury swimwear and accessories (December opening)
Lucy’s Lab Creamery – frozen dessert shop featuring unusual flavor combos (December opening)
Mori by Art + Flea – a collection of goods from various local designers and artists
Nalu Health Bar & Café – healthy eats including acai bowls, smoothies and juices (2017 opening)
Scratch Kitchen and Meatery – breakfast and brunch, now offering dinner (2017 opening)
Twin Islands – surf-inspired clothing (December opening)
For more on South Shore Market, visit wardvillage.com.