The origins of Kakou Collective can be found in my planners, where I would create layouts and incorporate plants and imagery with the beauty that surrounded me alongside my hand lettered fonts. As I looked for stickers to decorate my planner and help me organize my space. It was during this search that I realized that a lot of what is in main stream media is peoples ideas of what Hawaiʻi is vs. what I know makes my home special.
Anywhere I went I would carry my sketchbook. One of my favorite places to draw would be when I was on an airplane, traveling for work. I would challenge myself to complete a piece by the time I reached my destination or came back home. When traveling from island to island, I would research native plants and incorporate them into my work and this is where my love and thirst for learning about native plants were born.
I soon became a freelance graphic designer, and found myself having some down time since I controlled my work schedule. I would hike several times a week in the mountains behind my home and I would research the plants I would see. Over time, learning about the differences as well as the importance of our local/native flora and fauna, I started telling our story by creating imagery that I identified with in my own style through the lens of a Native Hawaiian, born and raised on the island of Oʻahu.
Recognition and Teaching Others
The Paʻi Foundation found us and asked us to teach lettering classes and illustration classes. I had never taught anyone before (having been self taught) and over the course of a couple of weeks I taught my first class at the Paʻakai Marketplace (better known as Salt in Kakaʻako) at events by the PAʻI Foundation. After that, I was hooked to sharing my creative world. I continued teaching in person events all throughout 2018 and 2019. In November of 2019, I officially stopped taking on clients and started creating products through Kakou Collective.
Taking to Social Media Amidst the Pandemic
In 2020 I started going live on Instagram as Kakou Collective while we were all social distancing amidst the COVID pandemic, giving our community a creative outlet since we couldnʻt do in-person classes.
We launched our online shop in April of 2020, incorporating our original artwork. We continue to be visual storytellers, highlighting local subjects with significance to Hawaiʻi.
What I love most
The moments that bring me the most joy are when customers share their personal memories that are connected to our artwork. As native and local people it is so important for us to identify with what is around us and that includes our daily tools. Looking back on how I started in my personal planner, I am so glad to be able to do what I do and to create inspired tools that will be woven into the very fabric of our collective stories here in Hawaiʻi.