Turning A Hobby Into A Business
As a stay-at-home mother of two, Uakea Egami would spend her children’s nap time learning to sew by following online tutorials.
“I had this urge and need to always try to do that next project,” she says. “I really found my passion. I had no idea I was going to fall in love with sewing.”
Soon, Egami was creating items she needed around the house for her kids, who are now 4 and 7, such as diaper stackers and blankets. Noticing Egami’s work, her friends and family began requesting items.
“I just went along with what my kids wanted or were using … I was just playing around, and then one day, it was like, ‘OK, maybe I should do this as a business,'” she recalls.
In 2011, Egami launched ME + U, which sells a range of baby and keiki products. In addition to diaper stackers and blankets, Me + U also has futons, pillows and burp cloths. Products can be ordered at byuakea.com and also can be found in local stores including The Wedding Cafe in Ward Warehouse.
Egami, who grew up on Kauai and moved to Oahu to attend Kamehameha Schools, always has loved to craft and build things – a passion that she attributes to her dad.
“He was always building stuff,” she says. “I think that led into my interest.”
Nowadays, running Me + U, Egami is thrilled that she gets to spend her days creating. As part of Me + U, she also guides others to create. In 2012, Egami launched doit-yourself beginner sewing classes and now also offers intermediate and open-studio sessions.
Many of the items she teaches her students to make are upcycled – taking an old product, like a pair of jeans, and turning it into a new one, like a stuffed whale.
“Teaching sewing is very fulfilling to me,” says Egami, a former preschool teacher. “I love that (my students) get to see in amazement what they can build with their hands.”
Recently, three of her student started their own businesses.
“I was so happy because now they can turn it around and make money for their families,” Egami explains.
Launching ME + U has been a family affair. In addition to gaining inspiration from her children, Egami explains that her husband, Matt (who is the ME in ME + U), helped her structure the business aspect of the operation. Her kids, too, are getting actively involved, picking out fabric and coming up with new ideas.
“I want (my kids) to remember when they’re older that they can find something that makes them happy,” Egami says. “And when they do, they just need to work hard at it.”
For more information on ME + U products and classes, visit byuakea.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.