In an interactive session with Kamehameha Schools staff at Kawaiaha‘o Plaza appropriately dubbed “Na‘au or Never,” Native Hawaiian fashion designer Manaola Yap implored attendees to “trust your inner feelings because the answers are always within.”
Yap, who was joined at the session by Manaola’s chief executive officer and 2008 KSK graduate Zachary Pang, provided a candid look at the business and revealed stories behind some of the iconic designs, bold patterns and “sacred geometry” that grace the iconic clothing and accessory line.
“Our purpose for Manaola is to protect, cultivate and sustain indigenous culture into the twenty-first century so that it survives the tests of time,” Yap said. “Popular culture is based on what is (trendy) now, and I wanted to connect pop culture with Hawaiian culture; in order for something to flourish, you need to make it popular.”
Manaola will soon be building business acumen in young artists through a partnership with KS called Hale Kua. The collaboration will feature an innovative approach to youth mentorship through workshops and educational experiences designed to cultivate Hawaiian traditions and inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in aspiring local artists.
Using the KS Innovations framework, the Manaola team is engaging with KS students at the three campuses and will recruit their first cohort throughout Hawai‘i with the goal of fostering ‘ōiwi leadership, socio-economic wellbeing and social restoration amongst the next generation of kanaka leaders and Hawaiian entrepreneurs.