Kamehameha Alumni Week: Interview with Kea Peters
As many of you may know, Kākou Collective’s illustrator and founder, Kea Peters, is a proud alumnus of Kamehameha School (Kapālama Campus). Every year during June, Kamehameha Schools opens its doors to welcome alumni back onto campus for a week-long celebration, and this year is no exception! Each class comes back to campus every five years after they graduate to reconnect with friends, partake in festivities, and celebrate with one another.
The 2023 Alumni Week is in honor of class years ending in a three or an eight. Though this isn’t specifically Kea’s class year to celebrate, it is one of our Kākou Collectiveʻs ʻohana - Kaʻiuʻs year to celebrate. Kākou Collective has been lucky enough to be included in both mākeke (markets) that will be taking place on June 7, 2023 and June 10, 2023 . I had a chance to catch up with Kea about the upcoming alumni week, and here is what she had to say about it!
Question 1: Kamehameha Alumni Week is coming up! What is the thing you are most looking forward to?
Kea: The best part for me about Alumni Week is speaking with other alumni and celebrating our shared connection. It’s a time for reflection, and a great opportunity to mahalo Pauahi for helping us get to where we all are today.
Question 2: What will Kākou Collective’s involvement be for this year’s Alumni Week? What are you doing to prepare for the festivities as an alumnus and also as a vendor at the mākeke?
Kea: Well, this isn’t my class’s year, but it is a celebration year for Ka’iu, (a member of the Kākou Collective ohana). I’ve known her since we were students at Kamehameha – she’s actually my son’s godmother!
In regards to my preparation as a vendor, we were asked to help design a new product for the Class of 2003. They will be selling this new product at the mākeke to raise money for their class scholarship fund.
Question 3: How cool! Can you tell me more about this scholarship?
Kea: Each graduating class has the opportunity to start a scholarship on their class’s behalf, which is matched dollar for dollar by the Pauahi foundation. These scholarships benefit graduates of the Kamehameha Schools and future generations.
Question 4: That’s so awesome. Can you tell us more about what this collaboration product will be?
Kea: We’ve designed two microfiber towels with exclusive prints for this event. One of the towels features a quote from King Kamehameha the Great: ‘I mua e nā pōkiʻi.’ This quote is a shortened version of a famous battle cry that Kamehameha said to his men before the battle at ‘Iao Valley. The quote translates to, ‘Go forward my younger brothers (and sisters) until you drink the bitter water of battle. There’s no turning back until victory is secured.’ It basically means don’t give up, persevere. It’s a victorious quote and because it was said by Kamehameha, it has become integrated with the Kamehameha School community. This towel will also feature our Kukui print that we debuted during the MAMo Wearable Art Show.
The second towel that we designed for the Class of 2003 features three different lei flowers: pikake, lokelani, and pakalana. Because the Class of 2003’s color is pink, they wanted to represent their class spirit in the lei of the pink lokelani rose.
This towel will feature the worlds ‘Hali’a Aloha’ [cherished memory] on one side and have lei strands on the other. These microfiber towels are pretty special because they are made out of Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (RPET). Basically, six plastic bottles are removed from at risk coastlines to make one of these towels.
Question 5: That is so cool! I love how Kākou Collective is so focused on sustainable products. Where did this passion for environmental issues come from? Was it in any way fostered by your experience being a Kamehameha graduate?
Kea: I think seeds were planted through field trips and experiences that the school fostered. I remember learning about the farming practices of our ancestors when we visted a Lo’i farm, and that made an impact on me.
I think my current commitment for practicing malama aina started when I created Kākou Collective. When you start a small business and you begin creating product, you really learn about how much of an impact on the environment it can have. You understand your impact on a much more global scale. Everybody has an impact on the environment, and even though we are a small business, it has a big effect. It’s about influencing future generations and the way that they buy.
We recently did a talk on entrepreneurship with 6 th grade Kamehameha students, and many of them already knew who we are, what we stand for. It’s important to lead by example and be a voice of doing what is right to influence future generations. That’s the way I carry Kākou Collective every day. Everyone is watching, so that is why it’s important to identify what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.
It’s important to promote this new product, [the microfiber towel], because RPETs are so much better for the environment than cotton. Non-organic cotton is terrible for the environment! It’s much better to put resources towards sustainable products like these microfiber towels and RPET. Hopefully this will influence future generations in the way that they buy.
Question 6: Well these towels sound amazing! I can’t wait to see them! Where can people purchase them?
Kea: The ‘I mua’ and ‘Hali’a Aloha’ prints will be available for purchase *only* through the Class of 2003 at the mākeke on June 7 and 10th. Remaining towels will be brought to Hoʻomau Hawaii Kauwela Market on July 1 and 2, then online at KakouCollective.com on July 07
Question 7: For all your fans who are excited to attend the mākeke on June 7 and June 10, what kind of mea can they expect to find at your booth?
Kea: In addition to all the Kākou Collective favorites like stationery and lei stickers, we are going to be launching two new microfiber towels of our own! These will feature different designs than the Class of 2003’s towels, but will be made out of the same RPET material. One will feature a Nahele print in dark green, and the other will have an Ilima print in a pretty bright blue.
Question 8: For all those who cannot make it to campus during Alumni Week, where can they find the products that you will be launching at this mākeke?
Kea: Our new mea will be available for purchase online, (at kakoucollective.com) starting on July 7
Wow! Four new microfiber towels coming out in one week?! And they’re good for the environment so you can feel guilt-free about your purchase? Amazing! Mahalo to Kea for her insight on Kamehameha Alumni Week! These mākeke sound amazing, so you don’t want to miss them! For more information on the Kamehameha Alumni Week Festivities, click here. (Make sure to double check admission information for each mākeke if you’re not a Kamehameha graduate as this is an alumni-focused event!)
A hui hou! (Until next time)