A Little Gem In Hanapepe
Owner of Puuwai Hao Kila Gallery and Veronica Jewelry
Please tell us about your business. I’m in the beauty business. I have been making my own jewelry as a hobby for many years, but have been seriously creating it for about three years. My style is romantic, and I get my inspiration from the 1920s and 1930s. I use mostly semi-precious gem stones, gold, silver and pearls. I opened my own gallery in Hanapepe a little over a year ago, where I sell fine art, as well as my jewelry. About 90 percent of the artists I work with are local.
Why did you start this business? When I first moved to Kaua’i in 1984, I was just selling sea shells. I saw what people were working with them and with beads, and I realized that I wanted to make something more than that. I started to have this desire to really come up with something original and Kaua’i-made.
What is your background in jewelry-making? I went to a school of fine jewelry in Pasadena. We learned casting, stone setting, fabrication, studying about gems and many other things. As I finished the “how-to” classes, I found a book about the classic jewelry of the 1920s and 1930s. That really sparked my desire to be the best jeweler on Kaua’i. I practiced for years and years.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry to make? Earrings are my thing. When you put them on, they make you feel beautiful. My whole goal is to create jewelry that makes people feel beautiful.
What sort of clients do you typically have? I have about 50 percent kama’aina and 50 percent visitors.
How has it been having a business in Hanapepe? I love it – it’s been exciting, especially being a part of the Friday Night Art Walk. There are so many great people on this island and so many talented artists, and I get inspired when they come here.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business? The smiles from people. My customers also have become my close friends. I have to treat them with respect, and I honor them and they honor me back. That’s the rewarding experience that I have.
Who was your first retailer? Hanapepe CafÃ©. They started selling my jewelry in 1989.
What are your future aspirations? I want to set more gemstones.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? Money. I love what I’m doing, I’m definitely passionate about it. But there is the profit-and-loss aspect of a business that can be difficult.
What makes you get up every day do this? I’m grateful for what I have. It makes me happy. I love that I can share my jewelry with other people.
Do you have any advice for aspiring small business owners? Just do what you really love. Your gift is not something that comes from other people. If you’re trying to do what other people do, you’re not going to be happy. You have to pursue your own gift to the world. Do whatever you really, really love, no matter what others say. Do what makes you happy because that’s the whole purpose of life.