Business owners and entrepreneurs will be inspired and can learn from Hawaiʻi-based women business owners as they talk story about their business success and opportunities that came from certification as a Women/Minority Owned Small Business.
The webinar, presented by Maui Economic Development Board—with support of the Small Business Administration, County of Maui, and Women’s Business Enterprise Council—is part of the Women in Business Seminar Series and will be held online 12 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20.
Four speakers will share why they decided to pursue certification, how they overcame their own doubts or questions to proceed, and how it has impacted their business. Their stories, and answers to audience questions, can help listeners make the best decision for their business.
Melia Foster, President and sole owner of Meli Wraps, was born and raised on Kaua’i and currently lives in Kīlauea with her two sons. Meli Wraps produce high quality Beeswax Wraps and Rolls as a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap for food storage.
“I’ve always loved creating things on my own and have been an entrepreneur most of my life. I started Meli Wraps with one of my best friends in 2015 as a way to reduce plastic waste on our planet. I had created a few small businesses before but none of them fed my soul like this one,” said Foster.
Maui-based Nina Hans is the co-founder and Creative Director at Weekday Studio, a brand design studio. Weekday’s clients include Nike, Converse, CBRE, Hawaiʻi State Art Museum, 20th Century Fox and more.
“I’m passionate about turning businesses into brands, helping one stand out in the market and creating a greater connection with customers,” said Nina, a new mother who enjoys the post-pandemic acceptance of finally being able to take teleconference calls from bed.
Lori Silva, Napua’ala, learned how to make soaps and lotions while enrolled at Honolulu Community College-Cosmetology School.
“Making these products by hand fascinated me. I graduated and became a Cosmetologist in 1984. I hoped that ‘one day’ I’d have my own body care line, but my dreams of my body care line were put on the back burner,” said Lori who in 1990 relocated to Utah with her husband.
On visits home to Hawaiʻi, Silva would search to find a body care product that really smelled like pikake, her favorite Hawaiʻi flower, to bring home to Utah. Finding nothing produced a lightbulb moment: “If I can’t find it, I’ll make it!”
Based back in Hawaiʻi, 18 years later, lots of hard work including the last five years to perfect products, her “one day” has arrived — Napua’ala (which in Hawaiian means ‘scent of the flower’) was born.
Jennifer Schettewi has been a resident of Maui since July 2014, living in Sprecklesville. A practicing attorney with a real estate license, Schettewi co-founded Pono Chocolate, LLC with her business partner (and friend) Janet Allen in 2016. Donating much of their profits to local charities, Pono Chocolate is sold locally and looking to expand its brand.
Each of the speakers will give a short presentation on their business journey followed by a round of Q & A with questions by a moderator as well as those provided by the audience.
The Women in Business Seminar series was created to guide businesses in Maui and Hawaiʻi towards SBA Women Owned Small Business certifications. Businesses can get certified as being a 51% owned and operated (Minority, Women, Veteran) in order to qualify for special consideration in government and private contracts and to participate in a sponsor company’s Supplier Diversity program. Companies such as Disney, Intel, AT&T, Major League Baseball, and MGM have requirements to include a certain percentage of purchases from diverse suppliers.
Leslie Wilkins, MEDB’s President and CEO, said, “We have partnered with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council to help facilitate the certification process. MEDB is offering scholarships for Maui-based women-owned businesses to join the WBEC program.”
A further webinar will be presented in August with a focus on the Supplier Diversity program available to certified business. You can learn more about the July 20 webinar and register at https://www.medb.org/talk-story-opportunities-for-women-minority-owned-small-businesses-wosb-mosb/
MEDB is a nonprofit corporation established in 1982 with a mission to lead and inspire innovation in business, education, and community. The organization was recently awarded a nationally competitive SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program grant to build business capacity in underserved and rural communities. The SBA grant is funding this program in part and is enabling MEDB’s work in building shared economic prosperity.