A Thing For Beautiful Wood

Sarah Rapozo prepares to burn a design into koa wood. Coco Zickos photos

Sarah Rapozo
Owner of Sunset Art

Please tell us about your business. Sunset Art sells handcrafted, wearable art. I design and draw all my designs and I craft the wood. I make jewelry, keychains, magnets and jewelry boxes. I’ve been in business five years.

Where were you born and what high school did you attend?

I was born on Kaua’i and I graduated from Kapa’a High School in 2000.

Why do you do what you do?

When I was younger, my father, Raymond Rapozo, started making ukuleles. After school, he’d be home and I’d see him working in the shop and he’d ask for help.

I’d put in a couple of hours here and there, helping him with what I could at the time. I’d sand wood and put things together, learning the different techniques.

Eventually I worked my way up to doing more intense work, which has become a big staple of my business now. It all became second nature and I was bound to do something with it. I also like to be an entrepreneur and manage and work my own schedule. I like to be able to get up in the morning and not work if I don’t feel like it.

Who is your mentor?

My father. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Sarah Rapozo

What kind of wood do you use? Koa. We buy it from farmers trees that have naturally fallen or people who own farms and grow koa trees to harvest. I also recycle wood that my dad doesn’t use for his ukuleles.

How do the designs get printed onto the wood?

The designs are burnt on the wood by a laser beam. You send your work to the laser by the computer and it prints, or burns, the design in.

Where can people purchase your products?

I have a website, sunsetarthawaii.com, and I also have retail stores that carry my line throughout the whole island. You can find my jewelry at stores like Mystical Dreams at Coconut Marketplace, at Robin Savage Gifts and Gourmet in Ching Young Village, at Kilohana railroad depot and at Happy Honu Gifts in ‘Ele’ele.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your business?


There are a lot of other rewarding things about it, like creating my own schedule. I get to work from home, so I spend a lot of time with my children, Seychelle (9) and Aysha (4). Both of my girls grew up in the shop, kind of like me.

What is the most challenging aspect of your business? There’s nothing really challenging about it, other than maybe the machines not working that day, or a blade breaks, so now my whole day is done. The most challenging thing is getting the wood ready to be cut with the laser or to be handcrafted.

What makes you get up and go to work every day?

I’m inspired and motivated just knowing I have a great piece of wood to use the next day. I always pre-plan my week. I’m also inspired by a design that I can’t wait to draw out and create to see if it’s going to come out like I envisioned it.

So it’s never boring, and that’s what I like about it.

What are you plans for the future? I plan to have my brand eventually be more than just statewide. I’d like to be nationwide, and have people walk into a store and know my products, and know it’s good quality and genuine koa wood handcrafted here, not imported from overseas.

sunsetarthawaii.com sunsetartkauai@yahoo.com 651-9878