December 9, 2020
Aloha friends, many mahalos for visiting the Livin’ Aloha Shop. I’m Brink and I founded Livin’ Aloha to be the kind of brand that I want to buy and wear for myself and my family and friends.
You can think of Livin’ Aloha as a beachin’ do-good brand born from Hawai’i songs and dreams and designed to celebrate the practice of aloha and give back to Hawai’i ecosystems – including planting native trees and corals across Hawai’i for every product you buy.
All of your beachin’ Hawai’i essentials for you and the whole family are here in one place, but the difference is that unlike most corporate conglomerates who sell Hawai’i-centric and Aloha-centric products (we’re talkin’ bout you corporate surf and athleisure brands) – Livin’ Aloha is a Hawai’i-born business where every single transaction sends positive impact back into the islands.
Every product you buy from Livin’ Aloha plants a native tree in partnership with Dr. Camilo Mora and his tree-planting lab at The University of Hawai’i -- The Carbon Neutrality Challenge.
It brings me much gratitude to be able to launch this shop because I truly believe that it has been divinely inspired every step of the way. Livin’ Aloha started as a song I wrote about celebrating the practice of living aloha every day after a reverent experience on Kauai’ in 2017.
Friends liked the song, so my original goal was to record the song and release it as part of my first EP or album, and so then I drew a design into the sand on Kāʻanapali Beach, etched with a free palm frond -- the artwork was an insignia showing the words "Livin' Aloha" but in the shape of the shaka hand-gesture....what is now the Livin' Aloha logo. The night after coming up with the artwork, I had a dream, and this dream changed the whole trajectory of the project and my life.
In the dream there was a huge diverse crowd of people who were all planting trees in Hawai'i, shaking the shaka and celebrating -- all wearing shirts and hats and towels with the Livin' Aloha artwork on it. I knew what I had to do.
Livin’ Aloha morphed from a song into a dream, and from a dream into a reality. Born from Hawai'i songs and dreams, Livin' Aloha is now a brand on a mission.
Like many of us, the time in lock-down has allowed me the extra time to focus on crafting and executing on the vision and bringing it into reality. This is just the beginning, and with your help I do believe that Livin’ Aloha can create an incredible and lasting positive impact for the islands.
When I first wrote the “Livin’ Aloha” song in 2017 and then designed what is now the Livin’ Aloha logo to use as an album cover artwork, I had no idea it was destined to become a brand logo, and even though the song lyrics are about giving back to Hawai’i, I never imagined that it would transform into such a mission-oriented expression of itself….but I think such is the nature of art and aloha itself to seek its own highest potentiality.
Soon after the dream I researched tree-planting in Hawai’i and came across the work of Dr. Camilo Mora at The University of Hawai’i and his Carbon Neutrality Lab where thousands of students and teachers and volunteers come together to plant native trees in Hawai’i throughout the year. 5 native species, including Koa, Kou, Wiliwili, Milo, and Lonomea.
I called up Dr. Mora out of the blue and told him about my idea and the dream and the song and the whole thing, and we ended up talking story for a few hours and a partnership was forged. I learned so much on that call about Hawai'i trees and the challenges our ecosystems face, and it inspired and re-invigorated my efforts to pursue the vision and make it a reality.
It was Dr. Mora who made me see how Livin’ Aloha could truly bring a lasting impact to Hawai’i ecosystems simply by planting native trees and getting more people involved in the idea and the initiative. Not only is planting trees the single best way to lower our collective carbon footprint on the islands, but it’s also the best way to regrow and restore the unique ecosystems that are some of the most rare ecosystems on the planet. In fact, Hawai'i has the most endemic species per capita in the world, and the most endangered species in the US by far.
Simply by regrowing forests, this will positively impact the ability of the islands to gather water and become drought-resistant, it will then have positive trickle-down impact on coastal systems with things like coral reef health, resisting erosion, and protecting the habitats of wildlife in the oceans, on land, and in the air.
Dr. Mora’s enthusiasm inspired me to double-down my efforts. And now, finally after much creative and collaborative effort – I am pleased to share with you this shop.
Livin’ Aloha is designed to become a movement for positive change – a synergistic happening that is greater than the sum of any one part. Planting trees. Planting forests. Planting coral reefs. Leaving a positive legacy on these sacred islands that Mark Twain called “The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.”
I hope Livin’ Aloha inspires you and brings you and your family joy and happiness and reverence for this special place.
The shop features many of the usual suspects that you would expect to find at a Hawaii surf shop – the difference is in the meaning and the impact and the quality that these products bring you. Every single product plants a native tree here in Hawai’i. So mo-products is mo-bettah. So our goal is to have all da tings brah. Tons of selection. All da sizes. All da colors.
Every local and tourist alike has at least one comfy t-shirt that says “Aloha” or Hawai’i” on it. I believe it’s because people love this special place and they want to express this love.
As a local I saw how Aloha shirts have almost become like a commodity here, which is unfortunate. Souvenirs are meant to carry meaning and significance with them, but much of this gets lost when aloha shirts become just another piece of gas station fast-fashion imports.
As a genuine Hawai’i-lover – I guess I always subconsciously wanted more out of my aloha shirt, and when I never got it, I created it for myself.
Livin’ Aloha was designed to solve my own problem in this way. The way I figured it, if people are going to buy aloha shirts and Hawai’i-centric products anyways, why not attach more meaning and impact to the products? Why not connect this meaning to Hawai’i itself?
I believe that Livin’ Aloha can become a permanent wheel of positive impact. Anyone who wears a Livin’ Aloha shirt is not only sharing aloha with the world because of the graphics of the shirt itself, but they’re actually sending aloha directly into the islands via ecosystem restoration, including planting trees and corals here that leave a lasting legacy of environmental stewardship.
I believe we have an opportunity to build a new kind of Hawai’i brand that is not only carbon neutral and sustainable, but also designed to directly implement local ecosystem restoration projects at scale. Laulima – many hands working together makes light work.
It’s also very important to me that we honor and acknowledge the unique Hawaiian culture from which the concept of aloha was born, and also honor the ancestors who originally discovered Hawaii and cared for the ecosystems prior to their decline during the last century.
Aloha is not a trite greeting, it’s a spiritual practice that connects us to each other, and to Hawai’i.
Before moving to Hawai’i, I lived for a time in New Zealand, and one of the aspects of New Zealand culture which was really great is that they are highly respectful and inclusive of indigenous histories and traditions from the Maori culture, the first peoples of New Zealand.
What I noticed is that by formally recognizing first peoples and celebrating cultural traditions as a norm, society gains more opportunities by which to build bridges between cultures, increase awareness and respect, and bring people together in positive and more culturally inclusive ways. With that being said, I want to incorporate something similar to what I experienced in New Zealand and dedicate this shop and the first blog post here with a land acknowledgement to honor the first peoples of Hawai’i.
This will also be permanently affixed at the top of our About Us page.
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
It is with profound and humble respect that we offer up this Land Acknowledgement. At Livin’ Aloha we acknowledge Hawaiʻi and the āina here as a sacred, traditional and ancestral place. We are grateful for the knowledge systems and cultural values created and sustained by the first peoples of Hawai’i, and we recognize the generations of indigenous Hawaiians who have contributed to these wisdom traditions, and who have sustained the ʻāina, from mauka to makai. More than ever, Hawai’i deserves stewardship. Hawai’i forests and reefs deserve restoration. We stand united in our reverence for this sacred place, and we stand steadfast in our resolve to protect, preserve, and restore it. We do this for Hawai’i, in service of current and future generations, and as an offering of honor and respect to the ancestors and first peoples of Hawai'i.