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    Kelly of Hoa Kai

    Kelly of Hoa Kai 

    This month Kelly of Hoa Kai shares her journey of being a Lady Boss. She was the recent winner of an Entrepreneur Competition host by the Northshore Rotary for funding towards the growth of her business. Here we get to hear about what sparked the idea, what motivated her, what challenged here and what she has plans for next! 

    What was the turning point that made you decide to launch your business?
    I was working full time at night as a waitress/shift manager at a restaurant and my husband is a lifeguard working days. I would go weeks without being able to spend time with him and we were raising 2 boys under 4, building a house, and I had just started Hoa Kai. At the same time as all this hectic normal day stuff my dad got diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer and he started getting really bad fast. I ended up becoming his full time care taker. Watching my Dad die made me realize that I wanted to spend as much time with the people I love, doing what I want, wherever I wanted to be. And I knew that meant I needed to quit my job and make Hoa Kai work. That’s when I feel like Hoa Kai really launched. I was lucky enough that my Dad got to see the beginning of it and I quit my job about 3 months before his passing. I got to bounce ideas off of him and he was really a huge part in it. He got to see my enthusiasm and excitement of starting my first company. 

    What surprised you along the way?
    What surprised me along the way is how many cool relationships I’ve built with people I would’ve never met had I not started my own company. And also how many cool places I’ve gotten to travel to so far. 

    What failure led to success?
    All my failures have led me to something that was instrumental in my success. I feel like there’s always something that’s a struggle and I somehow work through it and it brings something better than I could have anticipated. 
    Here’s an example: I recently did a print collection with an artist and the printers in Turkey just got really sketch. You see we have our weavers weave the towels and we then send them off to a print factory where they have to use these special machines to print on the 100% cotton towels. But this time the printers were being weird. They ended up sending a ton of bad prints. Like I’m talking 100s. A project that was supposed to take 5 weeks took 5 months no joke, with 100s of misprints we couldn’t sell costing us a ton of time and money and here I am the one who has explain this to a very successful artist who’s been waiting for months for their towels. I was devastated because prints are our number one seller and I had this opportunity to work with this amazing individual and I felt like I was blowing my chance. So after we finished that run I decided to focus on woven designs while I figured something else out with the printers. I was looking into buying my own printers in Turkey, but that ended up not being an option because of cost and logistics of trying to run a factory in Turkey while living in Hawaii. I tried talking with the current printers about new machines but they ended up going out of business. 

    So I was stuck, it’s almost impossible to find someone half way around the world in the country that doesn’t speak English that has the capability to print on these 100% cotton towels. Hoa Kai was the first company to discover the process of printing on Turkish towels.. so we know what we needed and the combination of machines to do it is not a normal set up and fabrics printer would have. 

    But after weeks of searching and discouragement I found new printers and machines with the ability to produce a higher quality print. A quality I could never have imagined, giving Hoa Kai a whole new opportunity to bring new designs to the market. *** we will be releasing some of these designs this fall :) 

    What strength did you discover that you didn't know you had? 
    Grit. I had no idea I had so much grit. It’s my new favorite word. I have the definition written on my fridge. Grit: The tendency to work strenuously towards challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. 

    What is a memorable moment?
    Gosh there’s too many. Here’s two.
    The first meeting I ever had with a store buyer. I walked in with a bin of towels, I didn’t even have packaging or logo embroidered on any of these towels. I had no line sheet, catalog, price sheet, pretty much I had nothing but a bin of towels. I ended up selling a bunch of towels that day and when the buyer asked if I worked on Net 30 terms I just said “sure” having no idea what that meant I went home and googled it. Hahaha  I’ve come so far since then. 
    The second memorable moment would have to be the Catch a Wave competition in May. It started with 38 businesses on the island who applied and ended up with 8 finialiast who were to present their business in front of a panel of 5 very successful entrepreneurs (kind of like shark tank). I was one of the 8 finalists and I ended up winning first. It felt good to be recognized by people who mattered. When I say mattered I mean by people who have been very successful in their lives with their own businesses. It meant what I was doing was good and to keep doing it. You see, it can be hard in business because there’s no real rules, there’s nothing really to grade yourself on as every business is so different.  

    Who has inspired you to keep going?
    Any business owner who has ever been successful. And my definition of success is “Doing what you want, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want”-Tony Robbins. Sara Blakey has always been a huge inspiration.  But I also have friends that inspire me everyday. Like Taryn from Kaikini, Nicolette from Foto Pop, Jen from Destination Events Hawaii. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many friends who are entrepreneurs themselves. 

    Where do you hope to go next with your business? 
    The focus right now is to keep selling Turkish towels. To double sales every year and eventually expand products to stickers, Hats, shirts, shorts, dresses, bags, etc. create an overall surf brand with Hoa Kai.

    Goldfish Kiss X Hoa Kai


    By: Rebekah Steen (aka Goldfish Kiss)


    For anyone who ever asked if I could do a beach towel with my artwork on it… here you go. Hoa Kai X Goldfish Kiss Limited Edition Turkish Towels are here, and they’re rather rad.

    For anyone who is just on the hunt for a beach towel, I think you’d like it too.

    So, long story short, I teamed up with Hoa Kai to make one of their oh so soft and useful, hand loomed Turkish Towels. I came up with a fun print made up of plumerias I’d painted…et voila. You can now lay down, dry off, or be wrapped up in a bunch of puas. If only we could’ve made it smell like them too.

    As fun as the print and collab is (we’re so pumped with how these turned out), I think it’s rather amazing what Kelly at Hoa Kai is doing as well. So let me shout out some praises her way really quickly…

    Hoa Kai is a family owned and operated business in Kauai. Lifeguard. Two boys. Beach momma. They know beach gear. Big time. So when they found their first Turkish Towels, they were fans, and started investigating where to find the best ones to buy for family and friends.

    That’s where the interesting part begins…

    They learned that the creation and weaving of Turkish towels has been around for centuries, is an amazing trade that has been taught for generations, and very skilled craftsman are raising cotton and hand-looming these beautiful pieces in Southeast Turkey.

    BUT, they also learned that most of the Turkish towels sold today are mass-produced by large scale manufacturing companies. In fact, only a handful of traditional weaving workshops remain because industrial textile manufacturing has all but wiped out Turkey’s weaving culture. Which meant hundreds, maybe thousands of weavers have been put into poverty. Selling these huge quantities of towels at a lower cost put families who have been creating these towels for centuries out of business and out of work. Urg.

    That’s where Hoa Kai stepped in…

    They wanted to support these weavers and their craft, and definitely appreciate an old-style-shuttled loom more than a mouse click. So, through their research, found some incredible weavers (that they work with directly) who’ve been making Turkish towels for over six generations. They are in a small village in Southeast Turkey near the Syrian border, and have quality that no computer controlled loom can copy. Humans for the win.

    So, all because of an initial admiration of a Turkish Towel, some research, and taking a leap of faith, Hoa Kai is bringing awareness, work, and some much needed moolah to some Turkish families who have been struggling.

    Extremely functional, soft and well made towels that are covered in a print that’s designed and painted by yours truly, that also helps keep an art form and tradition alive…Yup. I’m definitely a fan of these towels.

    For many reasons.


    Hoa Kai X Goldfish Kiss - Available at …and at a few really cool surf shops and online stores. 



    One of my must bring items while I travel is the Hoa Kai Surf towels which are super cute and can be used for like a bajillion things when your travelling.

    I love bringing one of these towels with me. We all know it gets a bit chilly at airports when your traveling, even if your going to a tropical island, you always want to be prepared with articles that will keep you warm (cause you never know!). I use my Hoa Kai Surf Towel as a throw over blanket when I’m on the plane and I wanna get cozy. If I’m walking in the airports, I drape it over my shoulders like a shawl for extra warmth. And when I don’t feel cold anymore, I roll it up and pack it in my backpack which doesn’t take up much room.

    Hoa Kai Surf works directly with families who have been weaving for more then 6 years which is incredible because shops now a days are usually mass produced by factories. It’s great to see companies involved in supporting local artisans. These Turkish Towels are weaved to be quick dry and easy to maintain. Wash in cold water and hang to dry. I’ve used my towel as a beach towel, a yoga mat towel, a shower towel, and a blankie. And it’s been amazing in doing almost everything I need it for my everyday activities when I’m travelling.

    You know what else is awesome about it? Wrap it around your waist and you got yourself a sharong!! Sometimes when I don’t feel like wearing pants (which is basically like all the time lol) I wrap this around my waist like a skirt. It’s so comfy and it adds to your travel wardrobe which it typically limited.

    Check out how I styled my Hoa Kai Surf Towel in Hawaii below. Shop their selection of designs and towels here.


    These Adorable Turkish Towels From Hoa Kai Are Just What Your Beach Days



    Honolulu Magazine: Published 2017.03.15 09:07 AM

    Don’t get upset, but we’re going to leave you out to dry. In fact, you should probably get pretty excited about it. After all, nobody likes a wet blanket.

    Especially us, which is why we’re throwing in the towel. Well, sort of. Rather, we’re dumping the dime-a-dozen variety and reaching for a leveled-up Turkish towel from Hoa Kai.

    The Kaua‘i-based, family-run company’s team was on the same soggy wavelength when it started the brand last year. After one too many trips to the beach turned their home into a mini towel-drying factory, mom Kelly Kakalia took a step back. Moldy, sand-infested, wet-forever, washing-machine space wasters were piling her out of house and home. No more.

    Instead, they switched to quick-drying, lightweight Turkish towels. Finer fibers help keep grains of sand at bay, and now the Kakalias have downgraded to a single beach bag for their family of four. A perfect fit, but they also wanted to make sure it was a socially copacetic choice, so they did their research and opted for towels from a small village in Syria-bordered, southeastern Turkey made by artisan weavers—not mass-produced by giant manufacturing companies.

    Next step? Share it with the world! And, because the Kakalias are in direct contact with weavers on the production side, they can work with the artisans to produce special prints that fit their (and your) tropical lifestyle. We’re loving the beauties they’ve come up with together, unique patterns that set the Hoa Kai pieces apart in the Turkish towel trend. Think deep, luscious hibiscus foliage, perky birds of paradise or, our favorite, jolly pineapples with stylized flair. Hoa Kai even has a line sporting Hawai‘i artist Heather Brown’s breezy, Island-inspired works. That means, while you’re lounging shoreside, you’ll also be treated to some perfectly on-theme art.

    Pretty exciting, right? Talk about a dry seat in the house.

    $32.95–$49.95 in the Hoa Kai webstore.