Aloha Market showcases Hawaii entrepreneurs in New York City

Aloha Market showcases Hawaii entrepreneurs in New York City

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By Annalisa Burgos HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A group of Hawaii entrepreneurs hope to win over shoppers this weekend in one of the most competitive retail markets in the world.

Two dozen small business owners from across the state flew 5,000 miles to New York City for the inaugural Aloha Market in Manhattan.

Co-hosted by Hawaii venture fund Mana Up and Canadian e-commerce company Shopify, the three-day event in SoHo features Hawaiian cultural workshops like lei making and showcases products from about 60 companies, ranging from aloha wear and cookies to Hawaii Island tea and wellness oils.

Organizers say the goal is to bridge the gap between Hawaii and major retail markets.

“There are so many companies that leverage the brand of Hawaii that have nothing to do with Hawaii,” said Mana Up cofounder Meli James.

“Hawaii does not benefit from it. Hawaii doesn’t profit from it. What our goal here is to help more of our locally grown locally headquartered, locally owned companies, giving them a leg up giving them opportunities, so they can scale. They there can be more awareness about them, and they can compete at those levels.”

“That’s always been a challenge for Hawaii businesses, who have primarily sold to in market tourists or local residents. But with Shopify, you can sell your products to customers, audiences around the world pretty easily,” said Chris Schmicker, brand marketing director of Shopify.

It’s a big opportunity for entrepreneurs to share what’s special about Hawaii with consumers who can’t always make it to Hawaii, said Melia Goodenow, founder of Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals, which promotes wellness through flower essences and lotions.

KGMB (CBS), KHNL (NBC) and K5 collectively make up Hawaii News Now, the state's dominant multimedia news organization with the largest digital news footprint in the islands. HNN's parent company is Gray TV, a leading digital media and broadcasting company. For more on Gray TV and its philosophy on news, visit

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