Modern Aloha

May 25, 2019

Hanalei founder Alice Kim was working in New York City in the fashion industry when the recession hit in 2008. Her husband, Vera, was working in finance. The two of them saw this as the perfect opportunity to make the switch to entrepreneurship, making the brave leap to start a company while the global economy was shrinking. Kim saw a need for innovative, no-nonsense beauty products at a reasonable price point, and she leaned on her Korean-American heritage to start Elizabeth Mott, a K-beauty brand that demystified some of the trendiest Korean beauty products for American consumers.

As Elizabeth Mott grew as a brand, the couple realized that the scrappy entrepreneur life and the expensive New York Real estate market didn’t mix. Alice recalls, “I’m from Los Angeles, Vera is from Hawaii. After taking out all of our savings to start Elizabeth Mott, we moved back to Hawaii to derive inspiration from the climate and surround ourselves with a more tranquil environment to complement the chaos of entrepreneurship.”

She remembers the major lifestyle shift, “I’d never lived anywhere like Hawaii before. I spent most of my life in LA or New York. There are over a million people on the Hawaiian islands, but they’re spread out and have a very unique culture and style.”

This led Alice and Vera to the realization that they could launch another brand, Hanalei, focused on self-care and local inspiration from the botanicals of Hawaii. “We started Hanalei in 2016 with our lip treatment infused with kukui oil that grows on the big island. It’s a great product for people who spend lots of time in the saltwater and on the beach. We then launched a lip scrub that uses Maui sugar and charcoal and aloe and other exotic ingredients that are grown in Hawaii or are island-inspired.”

“With Hanalei, people really love Hawaii, they derive inspiration and aspirational energy in taking home some of that aloha spirit in a practical, timeless self-care product. It’s all naturally-derived, using the beautiful ingredients of the island and carefully formulating those for products that symbolize something about island life and modern aloha.”

“The papaya enzyme cleanser is a dry cleanser that activates under water once you start rubbing it. This cleanser has a unique formula and brings the skin back to its neutral ph of 5.6.”

“The aloe vera soothing gel is a unique, island-inspired take on the familiar benefits of aloe lotion. What’s different about this aloe from the cheap sunburn type that you buy at the drugstore is how rich and cooling it is. Aloe has so many healing properties and ours is also infused with a cucumber essence so it has a very fresh scent and it if you place it in the fridge and wear it as a mask, you’ll really enjoy that experience and the way it feels. We sell it in duty free stores here in Hawaii and it’s a favorite of locals and people visiting who are soaking up all the tropical sun on the islands.”

Hanalei’s beauty chemists use advanced technology to create one of a kind formulas using natural Hawaiian botanicals. All of its products are 100% cruelty free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and sulfate free and we’re certain you’ll love the way they feel on your skin this summer. •

John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.