YOU AND YOUR OHANA
What is your name?
Where were you raised?
Island of Oʻahu
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?
We come from a family of hard workers. Everyone in our family has helped us along the way.
What is the name of your business?
Seattle Poi Company
What is the best way to contact you/your business?
Facebook or Instagram
Does your business have a website and/or social media presence? If so, please provide a link/s.
How long has your business been in operation?
Where is your business located today?
What products and/or services does your business provide?
Poi, Kulolo, Snacks (mochi, cookies, pies, and more), pop-ups, classes, pick-up and catering.
Please describe your business in 1-2 sentences.
Seattle Poi Company offers fresh poi and other kalo products manufactured in Seattle.
Why do you do what you do?
Kalo and poi brings people together. We hope that our fresh poi (fresh from the board or milled!), kuʻi demonstrations, and services we provide brings Hawaiians together, and helps them to connect/reconnect with their culture and heritage. We also want to encourage folks to make healthier food choices.
Seattle Poi Company visits Hawaiian clubs and hula halaus at colleges and universities. We bring our board and stone. People get to taste cooked kalo, they get to kuʻi and make paʻi ʻai for the first time. We are not just selling poi. We are continuing to tell the story of Hāloa. We reconnect our people to their ancestry, to their health. Here on the mainland, we have mele and Hula. We connect people to food. This is especially important for our Hawaiian people who were not raised in Hawaiʻi or who have not been home for a long time. Today, we have customers who are regulars and who are really like family. We look forward to seeing them at our pop-up. Its amazing to realize that the world is so small. We were invited to the Native American log house at the University of Washington. They know what we are fighting for as they are fighting for the same things. When they get to feel and taste our kalo, experience a part of our Hawaiian culture. Preserving cultural food traditions is a story common to so many Native peoples and people of color thorough the world. We also know that the poi we sell helps to increase the number of Hawaiian farmers who are able to grow kalo! If we support their business, they will have the ability to farm even more land!
STARTING YOUR BUSINESS
When did you first think of starting this business?
Five years ago we went home and had fresh poi for the first time. We experienced kuʻi ʻai for the first time. Someone suggested we bring fresh kalo back to Seattle, instead of waiting to come home every time we wanted fresh poi. So, we were put in touch with a Kalo farmer in Kauaʻi and we were sent fresh, non-store bought Kalo. Shortly after, Seattle Poi Company was born.
What type of experiences (education, work, life) were most important in shaping the skills you use to run your business today?
We were always hard workers, but the most important skill that helped to start and shape our business was our ability to listen when the ancestors spoke. You have to have your eyes, ears, and heart open. When the time is right to make a change, you will know it.
YOUR BUSINESS TODAY
In what stage of development is your business: pre-formation, early stage, growing, or mature?
Do you have employees? If so, how many?
We are completely family run. Down the line, we would like to have employees. We would like to be able to help our employees with school and other things they would need to advance in life. We would also like to expand our ability to donate and give back to our community.
Are you working to get your business to the next stage in development? If so, where are you in that development?
We have been on hiatus from in person events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are slowly starting to open up demonstrations on a one-on-one basis. We still sell poi, kulolo, and snacks at pop-up events. We also offer poi pick-up from our house and catering. We are slowly expanding to offer our products wholesale and in stores.
Our dream is to have a brick and mortar store. We want to be able to offer more snacks and fresh food items. More than anything, we want our brick and mortar to be a gathering place where folks can gather and get to know one another and the community.
We are hoping to open our store sometime in 2021. It will take some time as this is a family run business. Our daughter helps a lot, so does our nephew at events. When our son and aunt fly up to Seattle, they help too. One of us still works full-time and the other stays home to help watch the grandkids while they are home.
We are committed to growing, though. This is deep for us. We are making a connection and ensuring that the Hawaiian culture does not die. Until you know, you donʻt know. We want to connect/reconnect as many Hawaiians as we can to our culture, where they come from, and their past.
What is the greatest challenge you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
Not enough time in the day. We need one more hour!
How did you overcome that challenge? (Or are you still working through it?)
We are working to get better at prioritizing our daily tasks. Again, more time would be helpful.
THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS
How do you envision your business in the future?
IF YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT A HOBBY, INTEREST, OR TALENT YOU NURTURE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
I love hunting and fishing.