Values-based Decision Making

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Once I heard a woman speak about an exercise she does with her clients. She teaches a marriage class, and the first thing she does is take them into a room with three signs. One one end of the room is a sign that says “yes.” One the other end, a sign saying “no.” In the middle is a sign saying “I don’t know.” She asks the couple a series of yes or no questions, and it’s their job to ignore what their spouse thinks and walk to whatever sign best represents their own opinion.

Without fail, the results of this exercise creates somewhat of a rude awakening because these couples are forced to see for the first time that for years they’ve been hearing “Yes dear”  and not the truth about how their partner really felt. It serves as the beginning of an honest discussion about where their values really lie.

During the past year, we’d been feeling the earth begin to rumble, like it was time for a shift. We decided we’d get back to basics and have a good discussion about what’s most important to us in an effort to ensure that the decisions we make moving forward align with what we value as a family. Here’s what we came up with:

Having the courage to fail
Forgiveness
Acceptance/being nonjudgmental
Being Inquisitive
Exploration
Adventurous
Compassion
Congruence
Unconditional love
Listening
Appreciation for difference
Imagination – dream big
Working toward goals, skills
Accomplishment
Teamwork
Cooperation
Fun
Play
Health, wellness (physical/mental)
Faith (in God, in each other, in our kids)
An orderly environment
Quality (as opposed to cheap stuff)

This looks like a long, complicated list, but it boils down to a few main themes:

Having the courage to be congruent

Having faith

Having fun

Always learning

Showing kindness and love

Working together

Now that we’ve taken steps toward making our life what we want it to be, even though things aren’t perfect, we’re living MUCH closer to our true values, and that’s created more harmony within our family. Sure there are struggles, but working from a place where our values are our foundation means that we are more likely to find whatever success we may be looking for.

How about you? Do you feel like you’re living a life based on what you value most? If not, what would have to change in order to make that happen?

What’s New?

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I feel like these many months since I last wrote have been some of the most life-altering months of my life. Before I settle in to writing regular posts here, I thought I’d put together a quick list of what’s happened in the last year:

1) I launched a kickstarter campaign and funded the beginnings of a new business venture.

2) I started said business

3) I had another baby (girl – that makes 3 total if anyone’s counting)

4) My oldest daughter started kindergarten

5) The baby I had when I started this blog is now 2 years old!

5) My husband quit his job to follow his dream to write AND help me with my business. He’s now a regular contributor to the Good Men Project.

Basically this last year has been the year of “going for it.” In fact, Oct. 11 was the anniversary of my Kickstarter launch.

It’s pretty surreal to think back to what my life looked like a year ago, and what it looks like now. We are by no means THERE yet in terms of really seeing our dreams realized, but we’ve taken some giant steps in that direction. Sure it’s scary, but we have great support and we’re not afraid to fail, which is always a possibility.

What I can say is that being neck deep in carving our own path no matter how frightening and unpredictable, is much better than sitting around thinking about it.

I’m not advocating such drastic measures for everyone, unless that’s really what you feel you must do. But we can all take a step in the direction we want to go. It’s ok to start small, as long as you start.

What about you? What difference has a year made for you?

Welina.

I haven’t officially announced our daughter’s birth on the blog, and now she’s almost two months old. Time flies faster the more kids you have FOR SURE. Little Welina (pronounced VEH-LEE-nah) joined our family on July 31, 2015. She made me wait a week past her due date but holds the record for the shortest, most drama-free labor EVER. I have the best L&Ds and I feel a little guilty about that. Anyway, here she is! She’s amazing and perfect and she fits right in. Once again we are wondering how we ever lived without her, and we’ve already forgotten what life was like before her. Our family feels wonderfully complete (for now???) and I couldn’t be happier with our little brood of girls.

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Welina’s Birth Story

This needs to start with a virtual apology to Leolani, whose birth story I haven’t written! Poor, poor middle child. I WILL get around to it one day soon.

Though I had a textbook pregnancy with Welina (just like my other two), I was desperate to get her out and get back to normal. Being heavily pregnant with an almost two year old during the HOTTEST summer on record was quite possibly the worst experience of my life. I may or may not be exaggerating, but I’m sure my Facebook friends were sick of my whining.

I thought for sure she would come early. I mean, come on. This was my third baby and my uterus must be all stretched out like an old sock right? Shouldn’t she just FALL out? It often felt like she would, but in actuality I dilated very little in the weeks leading up to her due date, July 24.

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The big day came and went. I don’t remember what I did that day but I can assure you I was a total grouch. Every day after that I’d wake up energetic and hopeful, grateful that I was rested and hadn’t gone into labor overnight. Slowly my energy would wane as the day wore on, and by dinner time I would be utterly deflated that I hadn’t gone into labor and I’d go to bed hoping that it wouldn’t happen at night.

My OB called me in on Thursday, July 30 – 6 days overdue, to talk about induction. He told me that the longer I wait, the less safe it is for the baby, and since our local hospital is not fully equipped to handle a birth-related emergency, he felt it would be safest to induce on Friday. I wanted to wait until Monday, but he was off that day and I didn’t want anyone else to induce me. Tuesday felt too long, and (this might sound silly) but August 1st is the cutoff date for Kindergarten so if she was born on Saturday she’d have to wait an entire extra year to start school. So, reluctantly we chose Friday, July 31st to be induced with pitocin. I asked my doc if he would be willing to break the water first and then give me a couple hours to get into labor before starting pitocin, and he agreed.

We went home, got the kids ready and sent them to my parents’ since I was supposed to check in at 6am Friday. I spent the rest of the day trying to get into labor naturally, but nothing happened. Finally at 1:30am I woke up to a strong contraction. The minutes between contractions are some of the longest for a woman wanting to expel a baby. I waited hopefully for the next one. It came and I became a little more certain that I was indeed in labor. Then I went to the bathroom. Sigh. I don’t know how many times I’d mistaken labor for the need to go. After taking care of business, the contractions were weaker but they were still there. I spent the entire night walking around trying to get the contractions to strengthen, but by the time we left for the hospital, they had disappeared completely. It looked like pitocin was in my future, and I was heartbroken. I had had two natural births and perhaps asking for a 3rd was really pushing my luck. I had a good run right?

I was bummed all the way to the hospital, but when we got to the hospital, a little miracle happened. My contractions started back up! They were steady and well-defined and getting stronger with each one. By the time I got set up in bed and hooked up to the monitor, I was definitely in active labor. At this point it wasn’t that bad, so I joked around with the nurses (I had the BEST nurses) while they asked me intake questions and got me set up. My doctor came in and saw I was in labor. He broke the water which was clear – no signs of distress (whew!). The nurses asked if I wanted any pain killers. I hesitated because I had a bit of a traumatic experience with Leo where I freaked out at the end and I didn’t want to lose my cool again, but Keola assured me that I could do it, so it ended up being “No pain meds, thank you.”

Usually I like to get in the shower and rock back and forth but I was so exhausted from being up half the night and walking all over the place that all I wanted to do was lie on the bed and let the contractions come. Keola sat next to me and held my hand through the contractions, coaching me to breathe. I remembered a piece of advice that I hadn’t heard before: Keep your jaw relaxed. If your jaw’s relaxed, your bottom is relaxed so I concentrated on keeping my jaw loose. I also kept my hand that Keola was holding loose too, since hands are often clenched when we’re in pain. Keeping them loose helped me stay in control of my reaction to the pain. I also stayed completely quiet – something I never did before. As the contractions got stronger, I would close my eyes, reach for Keola’s hand and tell my body to go completely limp while my mind went somewhere deep in my brain. It’s hard to explain, but the pain was managed very well this way.

My contractions were far apart – more than 5 minutes but whenever I had one, it was stronger than the last. No one thought I was close to pushing, until my body started pushing involuntarily. It was 7:45am, an hour and a half since we arrived at the hospital and I was at 8cm. The nurse told me to push to see if that would get me to a 10, so I pushed, and she felt the baby move down the birth canal.

She ran for the doctor, who was actually standing by to help with a scheduled C-section that was running late, and he came in to find the baby almost crowning. They quickly got set up and I started pushing. I remember feeling like this was all happening way too fast. I couldn’t believe it was time to meet my baby. I almost wanted to be in labor a little longer. I didn’t feel ready, but ready or not, she was coming, and FAST. I pushed, and her head came out. Another push, then her shoulder. One last effort and the rest of her followed, and then she was on my chest in all her slimy glory, announcing her arrival with a strong, shrill cry. It was 8am, and we hadn’t even been there for two hours.

Of all my birth experiences, which were all special in their own way, this felt the most empowering to me. I had successfully relaxed into the pain, remaining completely calm and silent. In my surrender, I found control. Because I experienced panic with Leo, I didn’t quite trust myself this time, but I discovered that relaxing through the worst of it allowed me to control and ultimately dispel the fear, even though I had no control over my contractions. I don’t meditate, but this time I managed to find complete stillness and peace in the midst of this great effort, and since then I’ve been able to recall that place and that feeling. What a gift.

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“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

– 2 Timothy 1:7

My #1 Insight from The Happiness Project

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Have you read The Happiness Project? I know I’m a few years behind, but it’s taken me forever to get going with it – more than a year. It’s a great read, but for some reason I wasn’t making reading a priority, or maybe I was reading at the wrong time because I kept getting interrupted by small people and I found myself in that doldrum where you keep reading the same paragraph over and over and over again but never move forward….

I finally decided to make this book a priority because I really did want to see what sorts of insights Gretchen Rubin would come up with, and I loved her voice and her down to earth nature.

I probably need to re-read the book and take notes, because there are a ton of great insights throughout, but the biggest take-away I found was her mantra to “Be Gretchen.” She talked about how she was sometimes ashamed that she liked the things she liked because she thought others would think she was juvenile or boring or unsophisticated. She made an important distinction between liking the idea of something and actually liking something. I think her example was world travelers. Their lives look so interesting and exciting and romantic and many of us think we’d like to do something like that, but for Gretchen, nothing sounds better than her New York apartment and a good book. Sounds pretty lame compared to being a world traveler right? Perhaps, but the point is to be ok with that, to own it, and hold fast to the things that make us, us. 

That got me thinking about my own life and the things that I love, many of which get pushed on the side or suppressed because I’m trying to appear like I’ve got it all together, or that I’m interesting or cultured or smart or whatever. It could be anything depending on who I’m with. I had a thought today – I often look at others and wish that I had what they have, or wonder what it would be like to live their lives. Today I wondered if anyone thinks that of me. I hope I haven’t projected the idea that my life is perfect, because it is FAAAAR from.  I think the commandment “Thou shalt not covet,” has more to do with us being content and living in gratitude than harboring jealousy. It’s essential to happiness and I suck at it.

When I do this dance of comparison I feel drained, inadequate and pathetic, but I’m a Grade A people pleaser – and I will do almost anything to win your approval, so much so that I will  betray myself and forget to Be Joelle.

I’ll be 30 in a couple months, and while I don’t want the drama of being a teenager/early 20s, those were also the years where I felt most like me, and most comfortable in my own skin. I was unlike anyone else I knew, and I certainly didn’t try to be like anyone else. I practiced a lot of self love, and did what I enjoyed. Because of that, I could hang with anybody. I was very slow to judge and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and get to know people on deeper levels. I was not afraid of what they thought of me. I was up for anything. It was amazing and liberating and fun. 

Considering all this, my main focus for the foreseeable future is to Be Joelle, and really pay attention to and do the things that genuinely feel like me vs. the things that I do simply because I’m trying to win approval or appease people or even make money.

I’ve started simple.

Thinking about and considering these things is the first step.

The next is vocalizing some specific things that I need to do in order to be more congruent. Keola and I have had lengthy discussions on the topic as we’re both feeling incongruent with ourselves at the moment.

Next comes adding in the things that are missing from my life. That means being more creative – writing, taking photos, drawing, being musical again (singing, playing piano/guitar/flute, writing music), being more physically active after baby arrives (running, hiking, maybe dancing hula and maybe joining a canoe club), spending more time in nature, and reading actual books (not clicking through articles in my Facebook feed.) To be honest, I don’t do a lot of these things not because I’m worried what people think about me if I do them, but because they’re hard to do with 3 little ones. They were pushed on the side for more practical reasons, but it could also mean that I’m trying really hard to be a good, self-sacrificing mom (so other people say “Wow what a great mom you are!”). I wear fatigue like a badge of honor.

Some might argue that removing the things that are incompatible with us should come before adding the things we love, but letting go is often the hardest and longest step. The years since we got married have been challenging and I haven’t completely healed from some of the things that we went through. This will take time and compassion, but I think that by filling my life with the things I love can help me be free from the things that aren’t good to hold on to.

How about you? Are there aspects of yourself that have been pushed on the side over the years that you’d like to bring back? What does living in congruence with yourself mean to you?

Celebrating 9 Years of Love

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I still remember the moment I knew I was going to marry Keola. We were driving around Kahana Bay on Oʻahu in his little maroon pickup. It didn’t have AC, (or a working gas gauge for that matter) so the windows were open and blowing my frizzy hair absolutely everywhere except where I wanted it to be. It was sunny, but the leaves on the trees that lined both sides of the road cast blotted shadows in a rapid game of peek-a-boo between the sunlight and our faces. I had just finished my usual gaze at the “Sleeping Giant,” the profile of a large sleeping man visible from the north wall of the valley, a natural formation but I always wondered what his story was. It’s one of the markers that as a little girl, was a sign that we were 15 minutes away from our grandparents’ home in Lāʻie – one of my very favorite places on earth. The road unfolds over the river, temporarily turning into a too-skinny white bridge and serves as a man-made divide between the valley on the right and the bay on the left. A carpet of needles from old ironwood trees blankets the sand, hiding pinecones like little grenades should you be unlucky enough to step on one with your bare feet.  The river mouth that met the ocean always looked dirty to me and I never had any desire to swim in it, but that never stops the local kids in the area from passing every free daylight hour (and beyond) in its’ waters, splashing around on old dingies, canoes and makeshift rafts, swinging from branches, seeing who could make the biggest splash. It’s one of those places that never seems to change.

We were just passing the river mouth as I leaned my head on his shoulder. I glanced up at him (probably belting the wrong lyrics to whatever was on the radio) and I just knew. This was it. This was the guy I wanted to be with. My best friend, my partner. I wanted to feel the peace of that moment over and over again, and somehow I knew that I would. I kept that moment to myself (not wanting to freak him out) but I knew we would be together always.

I don’t exactly remember when I had that epiphany, (probably sometime in late 2004) and let’s face it, trying to remember ONE anniversary is hard enough. But I do know that nine years ago today (technically tomorrow since I’m writing this the night before) we made it official. We took a giant leap of faith and never looked back. If I thought hard enough (alas, it’s too late at night for my mushy brain to attempt such a feat) I could probably tell you how many times we moved, how many jobs we cycled through, how many cars we’ve owned. But those are just statistics, little mile markers that remind you of what life was like back then that you’ll find in every marriage. Those things don’t define our marriage. It’s just stuff we had, stuff we did to earn money, places we lived because we had to. Now when I look back on our nine years together, I think about the decisions we made and why we made them, the tough conversations we’ve had, the moments of total honesty that led to greater connection, the periods of struggle where every day felt like a marathon, the times he held me up, the times where I held him up, the moments of complete, wide-eyed wonder and beauty that accompanied the birth of our children, the mornings where all we wanted to do was throw the covers over our heads and hide…

It’s been a messy, bumpy, stinky, noisy, sticky, chaotic ride, far from that initial moment of clarity I had all those years ago. We are not without our troubles. Sometimes it feels like we’re just trying to find our way through a dense fog. The honeymoon is DEFINITELY over. Heck, I’m lucky if I get half an hour with him tonight before I pass out on the couch. But memories are wonderful things, little time machines that transport us to different versions of ourselves if we need it. And when I need it, all I have to do is picture that winding road with the trees filtering out the sun, the ocean, and a cute boy, singing his heart out. That feeling of completeness comes rushing back, and I know, even nine years later, that I’m still right where I should be.

Happy Anniversary Hun.

Hi Again!

Where do I even start? After all these months of not blogging…I don’t know where to begin. Life has been so full and crazy and BUSY. I guess I’ll just start with an update and move on from there.

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1) If your only contact with me is through this blog, then you surely don’t know that I’m PREGNANT! I was trying to find a photo of my belly and I realized I have ZERO belly shots this time around. Oops! Our third girl will be joining us sometime in July (unless she wants to make me suffer and stay in there till August, which is totally possible because she’s due July 24th.) Let’s hope she’s nice and doesn’t make me wait. It’s been tough being pregnant with a 1 year old. She’s constantly climbing all over me and begging me to carry her, etc. (see above). BUT on the flipside dealing with a 1 year old has kept me in pretty decent shape considering I don’t work out AT ALL. Still, it isn’t easy and I get tired a lot.

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2) Noweo finished up her first year of preschool and is on to Kindergarten. Here she is stamping the shirt she wore for their little “graduation.” What???!!! Yeah. It’s crazy how old she is. I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for five years???? Half a decade???? Unbelievable. It’s certainly true for me, that the days are long, but the years are short. I considered home schooling…a lot. I’ve read so much about it and wanted to try it out buuuut ultimately we decided to try Noweo at my old elementary school, where my mom also works. It’s an excellent school and much smaller than the one she’s supposed to go to, so I think she’ll get great attention there. I’m looking at her education as a grand experiment where none of our decisions need to be final. We will probably re-evaluate schooling for our children every year and make adjustments as necessary. That took a big weight off my shoulders because I was seriously agonizing over this and putting it off for months.

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3) I worked really hard on SoPupuka for the first half of this year, but now I’m kind of running out of steam because I’m very pregnant. I’m constantly at a loss as to what to do and where I should best focus my time/energy/money. This first half of this year was by far my most successful ever, and I’m so happy about that, BUT it’s also quite a lot of work because I’m printing and tagging and packaging and doing it ALL myself. After a long day of wrangling the kids and then working after they went to sleep, my body would be screaming for rest so I’ve had to slow down. I’ve noticed through this whole process that I’m such a control freak and perfectionist that I have a hard time asking for help. I think I need to do that more, and find ways to work smarter, not harder.

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4) Keola is facing unemployment again. We’re not sure if his job will receive funding but we are at the point where we’re tired of having our lives dictated by whether or not some nameless feds sign a piece of paper to reinstate funding. There’s simply no security in it. He’s worked his butt off and we’ve all been raised to think that we’ll be rewarded according to how hard we work but that simply isn’t as true as it used to be. The photo above is from a conference he spoke at presenting his own program that he built from the ground up. He’s worked hard and still some stranger has the power to take away everything he’s worked for with the stroke of a pen? How messed up is that? SO, we decided we’d rather try to make it work on our own. Is it scary? You bet. Especially with another little one on the way, but today we talked to a friend about what are plans are, and he said he thought it was cool that we’re going all in and betting on ourselves. I never thought of it that way, but that’s exactly what we’re doing, and the truth is, if you can’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Are we as ready as we’d like to be? No, but we’re a good team, and we’ll figure it out.

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5) Keola’s writing a book! It’s actually a REALLY cool concept but he doesn’t like me explaining it because I always do such a horrible job. The basic premise is what if Hawaiian deity were actual people who lived and worked among us? …AAAND that’s all I’ll say about that. The characters have amazing depth and I feel like if I started talking about the actual story, I could go on forever. I’m so excited for him and for this idea. Serious.

And that’s about it. I know I said I wouldn’t blog here anymore, but I had to make changes to SoPupuka which eliminated the blog I was supposed to be writing over there so here I am again. I want to blog a lot more but at the same time I just want to be chill about it and make sure that I’m enjoying what I’m writing and not putting too much pressure on myself.

Talk soon!

A New Year of Blogging

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It’s been a long time since I put my thoughts into blog format with any consistency. For a while I completely lost all desire to read blogs OR write myself, so I didn’t try to force it. I felt sort of empty, like I had nothing to say, or that I didn’t care to say it. I had gotten over sharing stuff on the blog. I just didn’t feel like it was all that necessary. The same went for reading blogs. I felt like I was getting too sucked in to other peoples’ lives and there was just too much happening in my own brain to fit anyone else’s words into it.

Looking back on  the past several months of not really blogging, I don’t think that neglecting the blog has made me happier, in fact, I feel like I’m in a darker place without it. Lately my thoughts have been trapped in my head, bouncing between my ears and eating away at my sanity. This blog got me through some of my toughest times because it was my release valve and I feel like I need that now more than ever.

So here’s to a new year of blogging. It’s going to be a crazy year, so I’m excited to get back on the horse. Talk soon.

My Kickstarter Story Part 2

Read Part 1 here
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So….crowdfunding it was. I pretty much knew I would go through Kickstarter. They just seem like THE crowd funding platform to use nowadays. It seemed simple enough. Figure out how much you need, make a video, make a write up telling your story, what you want to do, how you plan to do it, what the money’s for, etc. Figure out what your funding goal is, what your rewards are going to be, how much it’s all gonna cost….ok…not so simple! I always excel at the creative parts. The video was the first thing I made. In retrospect I should’ve solidified my rewards first because I ended up having to back and edit the video because I changed my mind about certain rewards and I didn’t want to mislead anyone. Putting something visual together makes it feel real so thatʻs why the video got made before anything else.

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Trying to figure out what something costs without really knowing how much you’re going to need to purchase. Kickstarter says that your funding goal should be the cost of the project + rewards. In my case that’s the cost of a heat press + rewards. That’s really hard to figure out because how the heck do I know what people are gonna order?!? I still to this day don’t really know how much money I need. My funding goal of $2,500 was a combination of things:

1) The estimated cost of rewards.

2) The length of time I was going to run the campaign (just over two weeks so it had to be a number I thought I could hit in that time)

3) The size of my reach – I don’t have a huge following, so it had to be a number that my limited audience could come up with for me. There’s no way that 300 instagram followers could come up with $10,000.
4) Kickstarter/Amazon fees: Kickstarter takes 5% and Amazon takes 3-5% for each card transaction. I know. Ew.

5) Oh yeah – the cost of the heat press. Fortunately my parents offered to purchase a cap press for me, so that was a HUGE relief and I didn’t have to include that in my funding goal.

I had to be realistic. When the campaign wrapped up, I ended up with almost $2,800 and that extra $300 covered the cost of all the fees so I’m actually ending up with my complete funding goal of $2,500. Woohoo!

I’m getting ahead of myself.

So anyway I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my funding goal should be, and eventually after taking all of the above things into consideration, I went with my gut and picked $2,500 LITERALLY minutes before going live.

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I was done putting my campaign together long before going live however. Like I said earlier, I was petrified. I literally could not move on it. I needed something to give me a boost, and it came in the form of my husband:

On a whim, he had submitted a piece to the Good Men Project. He hadn’t heard of them before but I knew they were a HUGE blog and I had seen them put out a call for sports writers. He love sports and would love to pursue a career in writing so I encouraged him to send something in. This was his FIRST time pitching a piece to a blog and the editor loved it and told him they were going to run it. Fun new fact: If you google “Keola Birano” the third hit says “Keola Birano, Author at the Good Men Project.” HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?

So there I was, sitting at the computer at war with myself over whether or not to hit “Launch” (no, I hadn’t even announced a launch date to my followers just so I had an out, an option to stop the madness before it started) when he called me with the good news, and in my euphoria over his success, I thought to myself “Well, if Keola can get published in the Good Men Project, I can raise $2500 in a little over two weeks.  I love how my inspiring him ended up inspiring me.

And I launched.

…to be continued…

My Kickstarter Story Part 1

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This has probably been the longest blogging break I’ve ever taken, and most definitely the most productive and creative I’ve ever been in business. A LOT has happened since my last post and I feel like I’ve now been on this current trajectory for so long that I can’t even remember how it all came about. I have so many thoughts about the last month and I’ve been struggling to process all the changes to my psyche and my behavior, my outlook on life and business… It’s a lot to piece together and I’m probably going to do a terrible job at it, so I apologize in advance if this post is all over the place.

I wanted to bring my designs to apparel for a long time. That’s where I had the most potential to make decent money. To be truly honest, I wasn’t completely committed to doing whatever it took to make that happen. I did EVERYTHING ELSE besies that to feel and look busy but in actuality I accomplished very little. I didn’t want to hire someone to do the printing for me. It was too expensive for the quantities I would be doing and it didn’t allow me the flexibility to print whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, in whatever quantities I wanted. I thought DIYing it was the way to go, until I tried my hand at screen printing and man, was that NOT the path for me. There were just too many steps and the quality…well let’s just say that it wasn’t something I would be proud to sell.

Then I discovered drop shipping. It was like a revelation! A company that will print and ship my designs onto shirts!?!? It sounded like Zazzle or CafePress but the difference is that I could sell their products straight out of SoPupuka.com. The ordering process would be exactly the same for customers but their order would go to the drop shipper and they would fulfill the order. I could just make designs, put them online and that would be the end of it, and if I was making a generic t-shirt company that was targeted to people on the mainland too, that would totally work. It’s hard to grow a Hawai’i brand using JUST drop shipper. It would severely limit my business to ONLY online sales. I wouldn’t be able to be a vendor at events, I wouldn’t be able to wholesale (too expensive), and I didn’t like that I wouldn’t have control over the creative process. Plus their clothing selection wasn’t what I had in mind, plus Hawaii shoppers really value things that are made in Hawaii, and they want to know who’s making it. I wanted my business to be a local business as much as possible, and I wanted to be able to have complete control over my product. I stumbled on this guy on youtube who talks about running a t-shirt printing company using a heat press. It’s pretty mesmerizing and he makes it look so easy. In the end, I decided that printing my designs on a heat press was the best option.

Once I decided that I was going to go the heatpress route, I was left with the decision: How on earth was I going to get my hands on one? Actually, I needed two: a hat press and a shirt press. I had two options: Put it on the credit card, or raise the money through a crowd funding platform. The credit card sounded appealing because I could just go and buy it and start making stuff right away without having to prove my idea was viable in the market. It was also super ultra risky, because what if my designs were a complete flop? We’d end up with more debt that would take forever to pay off. Taking on more debt was NOT an option, but I was pretty terrified of being a crowd funding failure. I was so close to being willing to sacrifice the bottom line over my ego. I DID NOT want to be vulnerable. It was terrifying, but it was my only option if I really wanted to do this.

…to be continued…

Read Part 2 here