Will One Of These Fledgling Companies Be Hawaii’s Next Big Brand?

As entrepreneurs try to build up small, authentically Hawaii businesses, they also face the realities of doing business in paradise: high shipping costs, onerous taxes, the challenge of finding and keeping good employees.

Mana Up, a Honolulu business accelerator, is working to help these fledgling ventures lift off. We talked to the members of Mana Up’s latest cohort — a swimsuit designer, fish jerky maker, textile designer and more — and found the diverse group of businesses share many of the same challenges.

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Sheldon Cho, Kaimana Jerky 'It's a little challenging to find the right employees to produce jerky.'
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Kristen and John Reyno, Lola Pilar 'People love Hawaii. So I feel that that being able to leverage that is really a good thing.'
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Roxelle Cho, FUSED Hawaii 'A lot of times we're competing with things that are imported or made in other countries.'
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Melia Foster, Meli Wraps 'Trying to get our brand out there was a challenge.'
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Russell Saito and Ryan Matsumoto, Hayn 'Doing business in Hawaii has its unique problems and issues.'
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Maria Short, Short N Sweet and Dawn Kanealii-Kelinfelder, Liko Lehua 'It's very hard to make at any money at owning a small business, especially in food service on the islands.'
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Paul Sullivan, Western Aloha 'I would love to be able to make my products out here.'
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Amber Thibaut, Coco Moon 'The costs of starting a business are really high.'
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Jalene Bell, Noho Home 'Manufacturing is very small compared to other industries.'

“Hawaii’s Changing Economy” is supported by a grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation as part of its CHANGE Framework project.

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