The Hawaiian islands look like a relatively compact archipelago in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. But, did you know that Hawaii has one of the highest Asian population densities in the United States? According to the non-profit organization, APIA Vote, 83.7% of Hawaii’s population consists of Asian American Pacific Islanders. 

The mixing pot of ethnic diversity has created a unique AAPI identity for locals. Whether they speak Japanese, Ilocano (Austronesian spoken in the Philippines), or Pidgin (Hawaii Creole), people in Hawaii readily celebrate each other’s culture. Furthermore, the aloha spirit (mutual regard and affection) has extended to the islands’ business landscape. 

Thanks to this cordial and collaborative environment, Hawaii’s fashion and beauty scene has displayed a unique edge over the years. Locals openly represent their heritage in a diversity-driven ecosystem and have found ways to incorporate their culture into every product, from nail care to tote bags. To celebrate King Kamehameha Day, EnVi caught up with five brand founders making waves in Hawaii’s beauty, fashion, and lifestyle scene. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, soon-to-be engineer Tiana Hannemann returned home to Oahu. The then-college senior was quick to recognize a need for sustainable fashion. Her eco-conscious swaps changed the direction of her career. Hannemann put down her calculator and picked up a sketchbook to launch RIKA ACTIVEWEAR, a brand specializing in small-batch activewear handmade from ECONYL, recycled yarn, and post-consumer plastic bottles. “Sustainability was missing from my activewear drawer,” the brand founder explains.

Hanneman’s Western Samoan and Japanese ancestry are big influences in her designs, mission and goals. RIKA ACTIVEWEAR pays homage to her middle name (Rika) which means “smart flower” in Japanese. Multi-cultural values were also ingrained in the brand from conception. “Our first collection style names are Kansha, Kin, Kenkyo and Ai, which translates to gratitude, diligence, humility, and love. I made sure some of my most important values were incorporated from the get-go,” Hanneman shares with EnVi.  

With a heart for slow fashion, RIKA ACTIVEWEAR delivers only one launch per year and thrives, as Hanneman says, thanks to the support of a community. “There is so much genuine love and positive energy from the community and it’s what keeps me (and I’m sure everyone else) going! Hawaii reps so hard and all the local fashion brands uplift each other. I’m super grateful to be in this space,” she states. 

Because of Hawaii’s immense support, Hanneman now can find her products worn on beaches, yoga studios, and even sported by hiking enthusiasts.

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Iwi Nails

Hailing from Pūkoʻo, Molokai, Līhau Willing is the owner of an ʻāina-inspired nail care brand — ʻāina embodies the Hawaiian principle of connection between people and land. After teaching English language in South Korea, she fell in love with semi-cured gel nailstrips. Except, Willing craved designs that spoke to her culture and identity. 

In 2021, the Native-Hawaiian brand founder launched her first set of Iwi Nails. The marriage of high-tech Korean beauty products and Hawaiian culture created a unique experience for consumers locally and abroad. Willing’s audience gravitated toward the nail products because of the novelty — many remarked they had never sported Hawaii-inspired nail designs before.  

One of Willing’s first collections, Palaka, breathed new life into the iconic palaka print, a plaid motif that originated on sugar cane and pineapple plantations and has now become a fashionable way of honoring Hawaii’s roots. Iwi Nails has continued to introduce local themes into the brand’s collections through the years. The latest collection, for example, takes its name from the Hawaiian word lipo. “Lipo is the deep, black darkness of the ocean,” Willing explains. “It’s also the name of my dog. The collection is inspired by the creatures you see when you go diving or on a boat.” After visiting the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Willing used the patterns of the eagle rays and other marine life as inspiration. 

As Willing illustrated designs inspired by Hawaii and her own life, she realized she could use her craft to support others. That’s how the Look Good Do Good collection was born. “The Look Good Do Good collection is where we have certain partnerships that dedicate a portion of the proceeds to nonprofits aligned with the design. The hope is not to just give financial support, but to bring attention and call to action. We put links to support the organizations as well,” she says. 

As Hawaiian businesses incorporate cutting-edge technology into traditional practices, Willing highlights the importance of moving culture forward along with the times. “Especially as a Native Hawaiian, it might feel like people often look at cultures as if we have to preserve them in a museum. Or that Hawaiian culture is this thing of the past and we have to do it exactly as our kupuna (ancestors) did it, but we also are modern-day Hawaiian people,” Willing tells EnVi. “You would never imagine that [something like nails can be] Hawaii related, but we’re able to educate people on cultural concepts through our designs or also just let local and Hawaiian people have a sense of belonging in the nail industry.”

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Sew Local Hawaii 

Born and raised in Maui, Jazmyne Villoria started an accessories brand with the goal of perpetuating Hawaiian culture. The Filipinx brand owner’s after-school hobby blossomed into a purpose-driven platform. Watching her friends commit to out-of-state universities, Villoria started Sew Local Hawaii as a reflex of worry and solution. The worry was the thought of friends forgetting their Hawaiian roots and values. Decorated in endemic foliage, the canvas accessories and tees were made to remind wearers of their home. 

“It’s accessories and totes for the pua [flower] lovers and the hunneh (young) girls!” Villoria shares as she sits down to chat with EnVi. “It’s kind of a fun way of saying a local girl who grew up here who has values instilled in them since youth has grown to appreciate both the physical and non-physical elements of Hawaii,” Villoria tells EnVi

Since the brand’s beginnings, the Maui-native has used popular Hawaiian plants to create prints that resonate with her audience. For instance, Sew Local Hawaii’s “Puakenikeni” collection featured the iconic flower, showcasing its maturation stages. “The puakenikeni flower goes from white to yellow, and then to its iconic orange.” Villoria draws parallels between the flower and Hawaiian people “Although you’re going through different changes, you’re still a blossom of Hawaii. Just like how the puakenikeni is still a puakenikeni no matter what color it is.” The idea is perhaps best exemplified by the embroidered tags Villoria shows us during this interview. “Representing Hawaii Through and Through,” they read. 

At a young age, Villora had the local fashion industry pour into her career. She was a part of the production team for the House of Kamohoali’i docuseries for Paris and Milan Fashion Week. Simply Sisters Boutique also took Villoria under her wing when they created shirts for the Maui wildfire victims in 2023.  

As Villora says, Hawaii’s culture and values are literally and figuratively sewn into Sew Local Hawaii’s products. “The main Hawaii value that I didn’t realize was so important at such a young age was communal unity. Take a moment to recognize your skill set and strengths and how you can apply that towards something that may not be exactly related to you, but it will better the community.”

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Keiko Jewelry

Kristi Hayashida spent her childhood watching her mother create jewelry and teach group lessons. The hobby became a consistent creative outlet and then a career as Hayashida stepped into adulthood. Although unplanned, the former accountant turned her passion for jewelry into something greater — Keiko Jewelry. In 2022, the brand opened a storefront in the trendy neighborhood of Kaka’ako. The shop now specializes in filled and solid gold, handmade jewelry pieces. It also welcomes customers to customize their own necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and rings. 

“I have always aimed to create classic and dainty designs to help women feel comfortable in their own skin!” Hayashida tells EnVi. Catering to customers who value authentic beauty, Keiko Jewelry has made minimalist bangles, pendants, and earrings its signature from day one

Hayashida often looked at her personal life when brainstorming new collections. Influenced by her own life, Hayashida created an entire bridal collection in the Spring of 2024. The bridal pieces feature freshwater pearls alongside yellow gold for the perfect bridal meets Ready-to-Wear moment.

As an entrepreneur, Hayashida has grown fond of the close-knit atmosphere of the Hawaii industry. “Because Hawaii is such a small community, you’ll see a lot of small businesses and artists collaborating with each other to create the most unique products,” she says. The founder has also tried to implement collaborations and pop-ups with local brands in her boutique. “I hope to use my platform to inspire others to be bold and start their own creative ventures!”

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Ao Organics Hawaii

Established in the seaside town of Honoka’a, Ao Organics Hawaii aims to make organic skincare accessible for all. The brand started when Chelsa Davis became interested in researching what exactly went into her skincare products’ formulations. Shortly after, the Native Hawaiian brand founder started crafting her own formulations in her kitchen and then launched her brand in 2016. Davis’ brand specializes in shampoo bars, reef-safe sunscreen, and perfume rollers. Ao Organics Hawaii can now be found across the Hawaiian islands as well as New York. 

Since the beginning, Ao Organics Hawaii has promoted Hawaiian values through organic skincare products. One of the brand’s core priorities is to foster a safe and healthy reef. Coral reefs surround the Hawaiian Islands from all angles, so a flourishing marine habitat is necessary for environmental conservation. For example, studies have found that certain chemicals featured in traditional sunscreen can be harmful to reef life. One of Ao Organics Hawaii’s first products was reef-safe sunscreen formulated without synthetic chemicals and synthetic fragrances. 

Other popular products belong to the ‘Ōlena & Honey line. ‘Ōlena (turmeric) and honey combine to brighten and clear dull and dry skin. The cleanser and toner line encourages healthy cell turnover for the ultimate #AoGlow

Ao Organics Hawaii flaunts a passion for supporting fellow Hawaii businesses. With a “farm to face” mentality, Davis ethically sources all the ingredients for her products from local farms. The brand has also been in tune with Hawaii’s sustainability goals, utilizing eco-friendly containers that can be reused and recycled.

Due to the ethnically diverse climate, Hawaii businesses foster a community that values authentic representation. The beauty, fashion and lifestyle industry overflows with products etched with native animals, blossoms, and lessons. Try out any of these brands when you want to infuse a dash of aloha into your daily life. 

Interested in more fashion content? Check out 7 API women-owned fashion brands you should know here.

*All products featured on EnVi are independently selected by our editors. However, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.