It was about half a year ago that I found his bandage for the first time. I was looking for items to carry on our website and his product attracted my attention. At first, it was because of the cute aloha design. Then looking through his website, I sympathized with the concept of the bandage. There are various tropical and well-designed products or arts in Hawaii. The local art scene has been growing recently and we can see so many items with Hawaiian motifs that are designed by locals. This bandage stands out as one of those products not only because of its design but also because of the company’s altruistic beliefs of giving back to the community.
Troubles in Hawaii
With its rich and varied nature and the vacation atmosphere, everyone loves Hawaii. However, it is another truth that Hawaii has a big problem behind the bustling street with lots of tourists. First of all, the cost of living is very high. Hawaii is an island, so most things have to be imported by air or sea from elsewhere. It causes higher price of the products adding the shipping cost. And also Hawaii has limited land, so the rent for the shops or warehouses is very expensive. This also makes prices higher. There is also a 4 % GE Tax, which is a sales tax when you buy something. It is said the average cost of living in Hawaii is 30 % higher than mainland. Because of this (limited land and high cost of living), we are experiencing a homeless problem. You can see them everywhere living in cars, in parks, on the streets, or under the tree. In quite a lot of cases, it is whole families where children make up 23.5 to 42%, and full-time worker are 42% of all of the number! Even though they are working, there are no reasonable priced homes so they don’t have a choice but to live on the streets. When you see these facts, would you feel bad and do nothing or take action? Laurence did the latter.
help. heal. hawai’i
We believe that everyday, you have the chance to make somebody smile =). Aloha Aid is a small company that loves giving back to its community. With each box of bandages that we sell, we donate bandages to local organizations that help to provide medical assistance and empower the less fortunate.
(Aloha Aid HP)
Carry down the message to people through his bandages
♣ What was the whole idea behind of creation of Aloha Aid?
I noticed there were no Hawaiian print healthcare stuff like bandages or others at the start. I had written down and posted on the wall and it just sat in my room for couple of years…At one point I followed my girlfriend to Japan, where she studied abroad program for three months. While she was at school, I had to find something to do. And she said “why just don’t you try to work on that?” That gave me something to do there, so within three months, I came up with the brand name, concept, the design of the box and bandage and packaging. So I started everything during that time. But I didn’t want to make just a Hawaiian print goods. I wanted them to have a little bit more meaning and give the people a message. I figured that there are a lot of homeless out there and bandages cover them; cover to heal the cuts or stuff, so I contacted some non-profit volunteer organizations, which work for the homeless people.
♣ What kind of non-profit organizations do you work with?
We work together with two non-profit organizations, which are Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project and Project Hawaii, Inc.
Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project are a bunch of UH med students and they have a camp to set up the homeless shelter on the island, and then they give them medical service for free. The other one, Project Hawaii, works with homeless kids. They provide them the interactive program for the kids who don’t have families and they don’t have chance to go to the beach or school since they don’t have clothes and school supplies. They help them escape their cycle of poverty by helping them gain self-esteem, build life and social skills and keep them healthy. So as one of the activities, they give the bandage to them.
♣ You only make bandages right now, but have you thought about expanding your product line?
I guess more stuff that people can use that could help their personal life, like toothbrushes or something. It’s good to give back to the community of homeless people. For the immediate future I’m going to try to make bandage with different sizes and shapes like circles or squares, bigger patch it…
♣ So what was the biggest challenge or difficulty?
Nowadays about 80 stores mainly drugstore are selling my bandage on the island, but it took while to get into store because they didn’t know what it was. Once it got in first one, it was way easier. At first, I was going in with some sales pieces like flyers and couple boxes with the bandage but it is always hard to get in touch with the manager or higher ups. So I just started emailing and it gave me more success. So the first one was the hardest and after that, once a month or couple of times a month and then getting a week or couple times a week…
♣ So the challenge was a initial getting into the stores. What have been the biggest rewards or satisfaction brought to you?
Seeing the people wear them like friends of family, it’s good to see they are wearing it. I feel like I made that! I feel happy if I think my bandages cover them, cover to heal the cuts.
Broad scope coming with his diversified background
♣ What’s your background?
I grew up in Washington, but our family moved to Japan. So we lived there for about 10 years. Unfortunately I don’t speak Japanese though…But I can read Hiragana, Katakana. And I sometime read comics. We moved out to Hawaii when I was in the 6th grade. I majored in Graphic Design at KCC (Kapiolani Community College) and eventually transferred to UH and switched my major to psychology.
♣ Oh wow, were you in Japan? But you are staying in Hawaii the longest. How do you like Hawaii?
Of course Hawaii is beautiful, but sometimes I feel like it is becoming less “Hawaii.” The aloha sprit is not as strong as it used to be. When I was younger when you change lanes in traffic, you drop the Shaka. Now I don’t see that so much. Drivers seem more aggressive. And every month there is a new building rising.
♣ Yeah I think so. We hope Hawaii doesn’t change last and always. To conclude, any message you want to give to fan or future fan?
The biggest thing is hopefully that it can help out their lives and I’m always looking forward to getting feedback for better idea!