They’ve Got It Made
Supporting local business remains the goal for hundreds of participants at this week’s Made in Hawai‘i Festival.
Nearly three decades ago, local business people aspired to create an event that would celebrate and ultimately strengthen the concept of promoting made-in-Hawai‘i products. Thus, the Made in Hawai‘i Festival was born.
This year’s event takes place Aug. 18-20 at Hawai‘i Convention Center and will feature more than 450 vendors. The three-day festival showcases the state’s most talented artisans, makers and entrepreneurs with products such as clothing, food items, unique gifts, jewelry, arts and crafts, and more — all highlighting the diversity and creativity of the islands.
“Everything is so unique,” says festival spokeswoman Olena Heu. “Oftentimes, the businesses are creating limited-run items just for the festival. And so, it’s really an opportunity to get your hands on some things you might not be able to get anywhere else.”
In addition, throughout the weekend the festival will present award-winning entertainment from Keilana, Kimié Miner and Frank De Lima; demonstrations by local celebrity chefs, including Chai Chaowasaree of Chef Chai and chef Paul Rivera of Hula Grill; and, for the first time, fashion shows featuring the latest designs of Wāhine Toa and Dezigns by Kamohoali‘i.
The festival has grown immensely over the years.
“It kind of takes its own shape and form each year,” says Heu. “Sometimes, it’s a little bit more craft heavy and other times it’s more focused on food. Now, it’s kind of more into sustainability and art. It’s definitely evolved into something that celebrates the creatives and the artisans of Hawai‘i.”
One thing that remains the same, however, is that the festival helps sustain local businesses, providing them with numerous opportunities.
For instance, there are special Buyer’s Hours from 8 to 10 a.m. on Aug. 18.
“It gives people the opportunity to meet the makers, talk to them about their craft,” says Heu. “It really gives them (vendors) an opportunity to sell these items in larger stores. (It) gives people a direct route to those buyers and to be able to showcase their product, one-on-one, face-to-face.”
Says Aloha Edibles manager Carri Loui, “The Made in Hawai‘i Festival has played a vital part in our business. MIHF is the best way for us to meet our customers, new vendors and also gives us the opportunity to meet store buyers, who we generally do not get to see.”
The festival not only seeks to help local businesses during this one weekend, but year-round. It showcases specialty items and vendors on its social media (@madeinhi) by highlighting them and telling their stories.
Justin Udom, owner of Pop Culture Artisan Pops, says, “The Made in Hawai‘i Festival stands as a beacon of sustainability, nurturing local businesses and offering a vital platform for small enterprises to flourish. For our small company, the event serves as a gateway for us to showcase our artisan pops, connect with a broader audience and gain
invaluable exposure. The collaborative atmosphere of the event fosters a sense of community and shared purpose among business owners, creating a network of support that extends beyond the festival itself.”
The Made in Hawai‘i Festival is produced by the Hawai‘i Food Industry Association. Proceeds from the festival help support HFIA’s initiatives. Meanwhile, 10% of profits from the event’s ticket sales and 100% of profits from Made in Hawai‘i Festival HiLife T-shirt sales will be donated to the Hawai‘i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund.
“I think the Made in Hawai‘i Festival is so important because it’s a really good reminder that we all need to do our part to support local,” Heu concludes.
For more information and to purchase all-day tickets for $8, visit madeinhawaiifestival.com. Attendees are encouraged to park at Ala Moana Center, at any level between Bloomingdale’s and Target (use promo code HCC22 for 50% off parking rates). There is limited parking available at Hawai‘i Convention Center for $15 a day.