Alice Kim, Co-Founder and President
Headquarters: Honolulu, HI
How did Hanalei come to be? Hanalei Company was founded in 2015 by my husband, Viraphanh, and I after the success of our first beauty company, Elizabeth Mott. With Hanalei, our goal was to create a line of skin care products that combined authentic and local Hawaiian botanicals. And so, inspired by Hanalei, located on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii, we’ve created a 100% cruelty-free company.
What were you doing before you started the line? I’ve always been interested in beauty and actually worked in fashion in New York before starting Hanalei. New York is where I met my husband, Vira, who was also working a corporate job at the time. Both of us had a dream that existed somewhere outside of the corporate sphere, which is what inspired us to start our first cosmetics company, Elizabeth Mott, in 2010. Shortly after, we relocated back to Vira’s home in Honolulu, Hawaii, and because of our experience in the beauty industry from starting Elizabeth Mott, felt confident and inspired to start Hanalei Company.
Your brand takes inspiration from the plants and landscape around you in Hawaii. With that in mind, how you approach R&D? Do you have a favorite ingredient? We truly pride ourselves on including authentic, Hawaiian botanicals in our ingredients lists. We wanted to capture the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands in our brand and make the benefits of those botanicals accessible to people all over the world. We look at the benefits of each ingredient when developing new products so that each product can provide maximum care to the person using it. If I had to pick a favorite ingredient, it has to be kukui nut oil. Kukui nut oil has been used in Hawaii for centuries, and it’s one of the best natural moisturizers we use in our products. In fact, a local hospital here in Hawaii uses it on patients in the burn unit.
Do you have any new products on the launchpad? We’re always testing and researching products to see what we can come up with, but currently, we’re working on a four-step skin care line, which is set to include a gel cleanser and gel moisturizer. Every step in the skin care line will be made with our proprietary nutrient complex of Kukui oil, spirulina and coffee berry from Hawaii. We’ve been working on putting this together for a while, so we’re really excited to put it on the market for our customers.
What is the ‘Help Hawaii Artisans’ campaign? Why did you start this? It is a campaign we launched to collaborate with local artisans by having them share local art forms they practice on our social media channels. Many Hawaiian creatives took a huge hit during the pandemic. The cost of living in Hawaii is so high, and much of their business relies heavily on tourism, so we wanted to create a fund that would help them to stay on their feet during all of the global change that’s happening. We wouldn’t be here if not for our local partners. It is also one of our goals to share the experience of Hawaii and the spirit of Aloha.
What are you looking forward to in the second half of 2020? We’re not in the business of making predictions—no one can tell the future—but we’re cautiously optimistic that we will recover and things will open back up eventually. As for Hanalei, we’re launching a four-step skin care line with our proprietary nutrient complex made with Hawaiian botanicals. In the context of what’s going on in the world, we’re most looking forward to the time when we, as a country, are able to make a speedy recovery from everything that’s going on right now.
Andrea Lisbona Vives, founder of Touchland, asks:
What has been your most challenging time as an entrepreneur and why? How did you get through it?
The current situation with COVID-19 has been incredibly tough as an entrepreneur. Certain sales channels have gone to zero, including our local wholesale and airline business, which means we’ve been forced to adapt and focus on our e-commerce and digital strategies more than ever before. This has been such an unprecedented time due to people losing their jobs in the US economy and certain industries shutting down completely. As an entrepreneur, there isn’t a manual for this and how to react when these situations arise. Luckily, we have already been diversifying our sales channels and utilizing digital platforms to promote the brand before the pandemic happened. There were some challenges with implementing changes quickly and driving ambiguity, but with incredible support and hard work from my team, we were able to adapt to the “new normal.”