My Entrepreneurial Past And How It Prepared Me For Hina Luna
I opened my first Etsy shop when I was sixteen years old, making silk flower hair adornments that catered to a niche subculture of mid century fashion lovers. Burlesque dancers and pinup models were amongst my customer base, and to this day — some fifteen years later — I still occasionally spot a photo online of one of my makes in the hair of an old supporter.
In addition to launching my first online shop, I got my first taste of setting up space at music events and holiday marketplaces and would drive down to San Francisco from where I grew up, an hour north, to sell my floral creations wholesale to one of Haight Street’s most beloved vintage shops. Shipping orders off to folks I didn’t know aside from a name and address was exciting and magical in its own way, however the desire to create and then connect with other people face to face over those creations has always fulfilled me most [and is something I’ve missed during pandemic times].
Sixteen year old me was also working my first job at a vintage general-store style gift shop. My employer became a dear friend and aunty figure who would whisk me away on early morning ventures to the city to accompany her on buying trips at antique flea markets and annual trade shows. I supported her in curating merchandise for the shop and began cultivating my discerning eye for quality and beauty balanced with functionality.
I recall walking through the many rows of vendors at the trade shows astounded at the way we as humans choose to utilize our precious and few earthly resources. [That may have been at the approximate time I was taking a course in Environmental Studies and had my eyes opened further to the urgent need to adjust our consumption habits.] Stall after stall of plastic trinkets and cheaply made figurines that were destined for a landfill, trends that would inevitably fade but whose materials would not, novelties that were good for an initial laugh then nothing more — I saw it all as wasteful and a painfully unconscious way of living here on earth.
Fast forward through the years — through more Etsy shop launches, more marketplace events, and more art-centered entrepreneurial ventures — to the fall of 2016 when Hina Luna was born. Rooted in my artistic journey into the world of plant dyes and a long time love affair with textiles, I was bridging my art with my devotion to earth and spirit. I first shared Hina Luna with the public at a local music and agricultural festival — with my community. Being early days and my stock being in its infancy, I had invited a friend to also share her botanical self-care goods to help me fill the space [who remembers Kait and Charged By The Moon from way back when?!]
Kait was the first of a handful of Hina Luna collaborations in that first year. As I was first navigating around discovering the ethos of Hina Luna, I was leaning into a deepened connection with the natural world around me. I sought out artists and makers whose values were rooted in the same as mine, who crafted things both beautiful and that served a purpose by supporting our human experience of reconnecting with the world of the seen and the unseen. I worked with fellow creative women in my town and native artists and local-to-me businesses to offer a very small, ever-changing collection of goods that complimented and supported the pieces I was creating out of the Hina Luna studio.
Not much has changed in regard to the foundational values from which I source curations for the Hina Luna shop. In the past year I have expanded these offerings to be able to share more of the good things I find and the amazing people behind them, and to elaborate on the vision I have for Hina Luna. With the discerning eye of my sixteen year old self observing the rows of trade show products, I hold no interest in offering you things that I truly don’t believe will be treasured and engaged with regularly, that don’t serve a purpose beautifully, and that when the time comes, can go back to the earth.
I often ask myself how I can, to the very best of my ability, offer “things” while simultaneously criticizing our collective consumption habits [more on that here] and its effect on the wellbeing of our planet and many of our global communities. The best way I know how to be a maker and small business owner at this time is to unify our spiritual connection to the material with a commitment to, put quite simply, choosing better things.
Well that’s a pretty broad statement, right? What are better things?
These are the questions I ask myself before investing in curations for Hina Luna [as well as studio supplies, personal clothing and household goods, food, etc.]:
How does this item contribute to the wellbeing and visibility of my global community members who have been systemically oppressed and underserved?
What will happen to this item when it no longer serves or has been used to the extent of its ability? Where will it go?
Who contributed to the production of these materials? Were they properly compensated for their work? Are they working under safe conditions?
Who is benefiting from my investment in these products? Is this someone I feel good about giving my money/giving a voice to?
Hina Luna prioritizes sourcing products made by Hawaiian, women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ makers and artisans. As a single owner, woman-led creative business myself, it is important to me to invest in these communities of makers, to provide a platform to amplify them and their works and contribute towards more equitable wealth distribution. These are people whom I feel good supporting, who work under healthy and fair conditions and most often are micro business owners and artists like myself.
I am so excited by the growing collection of makers and artisans that are a part of Hina Luna. Amazing humans creating from the heart, tools to cultivate a relationship to spirit, odes to the earth and the elements, things to delight and inspire and serve and to connect over.