YOU AND YOUR OHANA
What is your name?
Where were you raised?
Where is your ohana originally from?
Do you come from a family of entrepreneurs or have people close to you who have encouraged and supported your entrepreneurship?
My ohana founded the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association in 1987, and I was also one of the original crew on the voyaging canoe Makali’i. The Hawaiian sailing canoe has always been my passion which is what led me to start building them and then forming my company.
What is the name of your business?
Hawaiian Ocean Adventures
What is the best way to contact you/your business?
Does your business have a website and/or social media presence? If so, please provide a link/s.
NATIVE HAWAIIAN BUSINESS DIRECTORY: https://kanakaeconomy.com/listing/hawaiian-ocean-adventures-llc/
How long has your business been in operation?
Where is your business located today?
Our tourism business is located at the Disney Aulani and Four Seasons Oahu. Our office is located in Hauula.
What products and/or services does your business provide?
We offer beach activities such as stand up paddleboarding (SUP), snorkeling, and tours on our Hawaiian Sailing Canoe. We also build koa canoes, surfing canoes and sailing canoes. Corporate packages are something we have a lot of fun with. We have had groups as large as 300 people.
Please describe your business in 1-2 sentences.
Our business was founded with the mission of offering our guests a true, authentic cultural experience. We don’t run cattle boats. Our tours are small and focus on sharing our culture. It’s important that it is Hawaiians who educate people in and perpetuate our culture.
Why do you do what you do?
This is my passion. It’s how I stay connected to my ancestors.
STARTING YOUR BUSINESS
When did you first think of starting this business?
It’s always been a part of me. When I saw that most businesses that catered to visitors in Hawaii were not Hawaiian owned, I knew this was something I needed to do.
What type of experiences (education, work, life) were most important in shaping the skills you use to run your business today?
My father, Kawaipuna Prejean, was a Native Hawaiian activist who did great things for Hawaiians. He was one of the original nine who occupied Kahoolawe 30 years ago, and he was also one of the founders of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. He instilled in me the importance of giving back, stepping up, and sharing my truth.
YOUR BUSINESS TODAY
In what stage of development is your business: pre-formation, early stage, growing, or mature?
We are celebrating our 12th year.
Do you have employees? If so, how many?
We have 16 “ohana crew.”
Are you working to get your business to the next stage in development? If so, where are you in that development?
We are always looking for areas of growth. Our hope is more resorts, like the Disney Aulani and Four Seasons, will recognize the benefits of awarding contracts to Native Hawaiian businesses. It only enhances the guest experience. We remain grateful to them for taking the chance on our small business. We just celebrated our 10th year with the Aulani. Mahalo to Elliot Mills and Jeff Stone for that.
What is the greatest challenge you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
Competing with mainland run companies.
How did you overcome that challenge? (Or are you still working through it?)
Every time we got knocked down we got back up. Failure was never an option. Every time I felt defeated, I would think of my dad and all those who came before me. They paved the way for me, and I couldn’t give up
THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS
How do you envision your business in the future?
As a mentor to younger Hawaiians to start their own businesses and realize the need for them to be at the table. Hawaiian owned companies make up less than 2% of the businesses in our industry. That’s not good.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT A HOBBY, INTEREST, OR TALENT YOU NURTURE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
Three years ago I started the Kawaipuna Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) which I named after my dad. We self-fund through the profits of our business. We spend one weekend a month during the summer sharing our sailing canoes with our local kids as a way to connect them to their culture. Prior to COVID-19, we averaged 500 kids each summer. We do this at no cost to them. When not on the water, my family and I love spending time at the Kahuku dirtbike track.