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West // West Oahu News
Nicole Kato

Former Kapolei Resident Hopes T-shirts Are Ticket To Home

Daniel Kauahi at work as a dolly grip. Photo from Daniel Kauahi.

Former Kapolei resident Daniel Kauahi is seeking support to make a dream come true. Now living in Los Angeles, he hopes to raise $8,000 with his original T-shirt designs in order for him and his children to move back to the Islands. To raise funds, he started a campaign on crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.

Kauahi made the move to California in 1997 and graduated from Chapman University with a degree in film and a minor in graphic arts. He now works as a dolly grip and has had a hand in films and television shows such as Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Mr. Deeds, Dexter, Private Practice and dozens more.

“They trust me to coordinate with the director and the cinematographer to achieve the shot they are looking for. I really enjoying being an actual part of the creative process,” Kauahi said.

“Next time you watch a movie and you see the camera move dramatically around the actor or chase along side a car, or crane way up, or just about any actual movement at all, you can see exactly the type of thing I do. It also gives me great pride that, although people may not actually notice my work, it is all there for millions to see.”

While he feels fortunate to be working in the industry, Kauahi is using his expertise in graphic arts to make his way back home to Oahu.

“The film industry in Hawaii can’t provide me with as much steady work as I find in Los Angeles, so I’m looking to expand in new directions,” he explained. “I’ve always wanted to move home. It’s the home of my ancestors and my ohana.”

Kauahi moved to California to be closer to his eldest son, Kealii (17), who will graduate from high school next year.

“Once that happens, I don’t have to stay here (in California),” he says. “I very much want to give my two young children (Maile, 7, and Koa, 2) the opportunity to experience Hawaii the way I did.”

His Kickstarter campaign ends July 31. As per the website’s rules, his campaign must raise all $8,000 in order to receive any of the pledges.

“My desire to start a clothing line is honestly born of the need to express my artistic side,” he said. “I’ve always been a closet artist. I had been to a lot of Hawaii festivals here (in California) yearning to just get a piece of anything Hawaiian and Polynesian.

“Then I noticed that there were a heck of a lot of people yearning for the same thing. I saw a lot of the clothes and thought …

I could just design something that I’d like to wear and hopefully people would like what I created. That’s how District 808 was born.”

Kauahi hopes to make District 808 more than just a T-shirt company in the future. He dreams of opening shops in places as far as Japan and also wants to establish a scholarship program.

“It all starts with the Kickstarter,” he explained. “Hopefully that is successful and I continue on in the direction I’d like. If I don’t reach my goal, it’s not the end.”

Visit district808.com or kickstarter.com/projects/389805395/district-808-hawaiian-inspired-t-shirt-designs for more information.

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