Being vulnerable and sharing my personal life has always been something I've shied away from, especially through my business. Recently, I've come to the realization that my work is my life. It was created from within me, and it comes straight from my heart, the ups and downs, all of it. The past few months, finding a bit more time to slow down, I was able to connect with friend, Allison Tan, who was intrigued by my story and encouraged me to share parts of my journey with you.
Inspired by the nomadic lifestyle from your childhood, how has your travels influenced your collection?
My parents, still to this day, have never liked to settle down or commit to any one place for too long. Growing up, we'd often travel with the few things that we owned, searching for the elusive place called "home" where we’d unpack and set up our little homestead. We'd have gardens half an acre in size, canned our own vegetables, made root beer, and raised our own chickens. We lived in different places all across the country, starting in Hawaii, and always ending up back in Hawaii. Some years we lived so remotely, that my parents just found it easier to homeschool us. I remember late nights, eating cinnamon toast and playing card games together as a family rather than watching a television. Now as an adult, I’m able to carry on this lifestyle for a creative, slower, and more conscious life.
Locally, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Hawaii is home. No matter where I travel, I appreciate coming home to Hawaii Island. It’s a place of nature, abundance, and unending beauty, not just seen with the eyes, but felt with the heart. I draw inspiration from the phases and feelings I’m experiencing in life at that time. For instance, 2019 was a difficult year for me personally. Amidst the ending of a relationship I thought would last forever, I found myself escaping to other countries, places, and parts of myself, searching for something solid to ground me. I was looking for someplace or something solid to hold on to while the world around me came crashing down. That year, I created the Nomad Collection, an unassuming collection of muted, earthy hues, inspired by my journey to ground and reconnect with myself. Our next collection is warm and bright. It’s a sunny palette with undeniably feminine silhouettes, which I feel is a direct reflection of where I am right now.
Since the launch of Kepola Design House in 2018, how have you changed as a woman and a business?
When I think about this question it gives me chills because of how far I’ve come. The woman I was two years ago compared to the woman I am today is drastically different. I’ve learned to love, accept, and stand up for myself in ways I never knew possible. I have a much stronger sense of who I am at my core, living my true, authentic self. In 2018, I wasn’t sure where the business would lead and I remember spending countless days and nights doing whatever it took to get the work done. I’ve realized I cannot do everything myself while maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I’m learning how to outsource different aspects of running the business, and letting go of the “I can do everything myself” mentality, which is not an easy task for my Virgo nature. This enables me to spend more time on the overall big picture elements of the brand.
What is your advice to anyone wanting to start their own creative project?
You need to be vulnerable and put yourself out there. You will make mistakes and you will fail, but understand that change and failure is a part of growth and the natural way of life. Not everyone is going to love and understand what you do, but what is important is staying true to your core, and that will set you apart. Never stop trying to improve and ultimately, never stop learning. I still have to remind myself of these things when I lose focus or become insecure.
When you feel overwhelmed, unfocused, or uncreative, what do you do to get out of your head?
I sometimes get so busy with the day to day of running a business that I forget to slow down. When I slow down, I find the time to read more books, journal, cook, play with ceramics or paints. Slowing down gives me the opportunity to get creative and take notice of the details in everyday life, like the colors of houses, the architecture of a building, the anatomy of a plant. My life stays pretty busy, but I try to remember to slow down long enough to see the poetry of everyday life and appreciate it.
What objects have been the most significant to you lately?
My notebooks! With all of our amazing apps and technology, I still prefer writing down ideas, lists, things to do, you name it. My brain works best visually seeing and writing. I have an immense amount of notebooks just lying around the house and the studio that I refuse to get rid of.
Can you share a schedule of your typical day? If there are no “typical” days, what are your constants?
There are definitely no typical days, but I try to create as much consistency as I can. I love my morning coffee, where I set my intentions for the day. Most of my time is spent cutting and sewing, but the best days are the ones I get to play with new design ideas and sort through fabric swatches and color samples. Creativity is what I live for.
What is your go-to easy meal you make yourself?
I love cooking, so I’m always trying to teach myself new things and lately I’ve been studying the theory of cooking. Salt, Fat, Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat is a great resource for this. My go-to meal has to be soup. It’s always been my favorite since it’s easy to make with no recipe needed. For me, a warm bowl of brothy miso or tom yum loaded with vegetables is the coziest way to end my day.
How can you be softer with yourself, embrace more fluidity, more water?
This is something I struggle with. I was raised by strong parents, who taught me to endure, endure, endure. My strength is something I’m very proud of and I thank my parents for raising me this way. It’s only recently that I’ve learned that it’s okay to be soft, open, to feel pain and let it move through you without attachment.
Alternatively, what area in your life is craving a bit more fire?
Travel. I’m feeling called to visit France and Norway. I’m half French and half Scandinavian, and I feel like so much of what I do and create is unconsciously influenced by my DNA and culture. I want to delve deeper and explore that part of me.