By now, you may be somewhat familiar with House of Mana Up–you may have visited our shop at Royal Hawaiian Center and seen our brands at Ala Moana, DFS and online–but do you know why we wake up every morning to grow this community? Because “Buy Local” has so many benefits for our local economy beyond just the dollars it brings in locally.
Hawaii relies heavily on the tourism industry. As 2020 has shown us, there are many flaws with so much of our jobs and revenues tied to tourism. Diversification helps us to be more resilient when global issues arise.
Many of the local products featured at House of Mana Up feature Hawai grown ingredients. These ingredients are what make the product so special. For example, Manoa Chocolate and Big Island Coffee Roasters have won international awards because of the high quality of their ingredients and craftsmanship.
As companies increase their sourcing from local agriculture, this helps contribute to diversified agriculture efforts as we move away from the plantation era and provides farms with another source of revenue aside from their fresh crops.
Through Mana Up participants, our goal is to sow the seeds of Hawai‘i's next 100 product companies earning over $10 million in annual revenue and based here in our state. But beyond that, we hope that these entrepreneurs have an outsized impact on inspiring and cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs to sustain our islands’ economic growth for the future.
In addition to our efforts at House of Mana Up, we recently partnered up with Central Pacific Bank and the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association to create new retail opportunities for Hawaii small businesses to sell products in Japan with Prince Hotels and Resorts and Natural Lawson convenience stores. We’re excited to find more ways for Mana Up companies to expand globally.
Our residents flock to the continental US or abroad seeking better job opportunities, higher salaries and lower costs of living–we see this all too often. What if we created more opportunities tobring kama‘aina back home or prevent them from having to leave in the first place? By creating more locally based companies, more jobs will be created at all levels, including executive-level jobs that will establish a better job market. Giving the opportunity to our local community to stay home, return home and simply have choices to build a sustainable livelihood here and support the high cost of living.
You’ve seen mainland and international companies that capitalize off of Hawa‘i’s culture, food and fashion just to name a few things. From ahi poke to the wordaloha, we have witnessed many non-Hawai‘i brands sell the story of our islands, without seeing any of their profits benefit our people. At Mana Up, we support products rooted in Hawai'i that elevate our local culture, ingredients and stories through their brands.
Last but definitely not least, we champion product innovation, diversified agriculture and education among many other economic drivers.
As you explore House of Mana Up, you’ll see how many of the companies have community giveback as central to their missions. Whether it is building up a local farming industry, solving a major environmental problem, supporting the re-development of indigenous crops, or donating to local charities, we are so inspired by how much impact is created by entrepreneurs.
When Covid-19 hit, we couldn’t believe just how much local companies stepped up to support the community despite their own struggles from the depleted economy. From food donations to mask donations and more, the recent crisis has shown us just how important it is to have local businesses in our community who can quickly pivot to fill needs.
While studying at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Dylan Butterbaugh spent six months in labs at the College of Tropical Agriculture (CTAHR) learning the processes that turn cacao fruit into chocolate. With the loss of our (long-gone) sugarcane and pineapple crops, plus the emergence of Hawai‘i’s chocolate industry in Hawai‘i, Dylan identified a need for local processors. Thus, Mānoa Chocolate was born.
Since 2010, the homegrown company has operated a bean-to-bar chocolate factory focused on producing quality dark chocolate at its factory in Kailua, O‘ahu. Today, their goal remains the same–to showcase the unique flavors and characteristics of cacao throughdirect trade of single origin beans from around the world and across the Hawaiian Islands.
‘Ulu Mana's mission is to highlight‘ulu(breadfruit) as a widely recognized food source. The Honolulu-based company strives to offer unique, high quality, simple and delicious products made from the starchyfruit. By utilizing this indigenous and sustainable crop, ‘Ulu Mana contributes to the health of
Hawai‘i's local farms, the community and our economy.
All of ‘Ulu Mana’s fruit comes from small local Hawai‘i farmers. The farmers supply their crops directly to its facility where its team processes everything in-house–this way, money funnels directly to the farmers as opposed to a middle man. Additionally, owner Loren Shoop is constantly on the hunt for new ways to run an eco-friendly business!
Similarly, Voyaging Foods celebrates Hawai‘i *canoe plants such as kalo(taro),‘uala (sweet potato) and ‘ulu (breadfruit). After years of research studies and historical reports on kalo, founder Brynn Foster unearthed the history of kalo flour and discovered that Hawai‘i’s agricultural history included a number of companies that were involved in its production. Kalo is still a culturally treasured food with significant health benefits, yet Hawaii continues to import over 80% of its food.
Through Voyaging Foods, Brynn hopes to see the islands become more self-sufficient by doubling the amount of canoe-plant growing lands in the state. The O‘ahu-based brand develops its goods–from the Taro Cakes mix to the Lava Cookies–using these ingredients deep-rooted in Hawaiian heritage. These plants promote a holistic view of health, parallel to the importance of healthy land. With this belief in mind, everything Voyaging Foods does is influenced by three pillars: mindful cooking, maintaining healthy lifestyles and sustaining local communities.
*Canoe plants are the plants the first Hawaiians brought as sustenance food in their open ocean voyaging canoes when they traveled across the Polynesian triangle.
Over 20 years ago, Kapa Nui Nails founders Terry and Lyn Lam, M.D. relocated from O‘ahu to Hawai‘i Island to build a health center for women. In 2017 after decades of serving women on the island, the duo sought healthier lifestyle alternatives in their personal lives. In doing so, they learned how hazardous traditional nail polishes are to the body and the environment.
Recognizing the lack of non-toxic nail lacquers on the market, Terry and Lyn began developing clean and green high-performance nail products for the environmentally and health-conscious consumer. Today, the duo offers polish, nail repair and polish remover products that are non-toxic, sustainably produced and virtually odorless. Kapa Nui Nails brings itsinnovative, patent-protected water-based formulato the world straight out of its Waimea-based workshop.
Help us ignite a brighter future for our economy!
Local value-added products can contribute to a promising future for diversified agriculture. Mana Up brands have foundations rooted in quality Hawaiʻi-grown ingredients and each founder has a strong commitment to the islands that fosters their success.
Haku Collective, founded by Scotty Wilks and Kimié Miner, works to support Hawai'i-based musicians through live events, production, publishing, product, and mentorship opportunities.