Oh, Baby, Life Is Sweet
Morris Wise and Chris Spinosa
Owners, Hula Baby and Ko Bakery
Please tell us about your business. Chris: Hula Baby is our brand that focuses on creating biscotti and granola with an island flair. Ko Bakery is our brand that focuses on baked goods, like cookies and cakes that your grandmother might make, using interesting techniques and also with an island flair. We have other products that we are consistently coming up with over time that market to not only locals, but visitors and off-island customers as well.
What are some examples of Hula Baby products? Morris: The biscotti features local flavors, like Lilikoi Dream Cake, wedding cakes, and cookies, such as the Coco Oat Scotchie.
Chris: Every recipe we make, from our scones to our cookies as well as our granola, we make them all from scratch.
Morris: We even try to make our own individual ingredients, like our own biscotti crÃ¨me crust for our cheesecakes. We make our own pineapple preserves to put in our buttercream; we make our own caramel sauce.
How did you start these businesses? Morris: Hula Baby started in 2007 when my husband, Byron Barth, and I were thinking about moving to Hawaii from California and looking for something to do. I started looking around to see what food products would go well on Kauai that haven’t been done here. I knew there was a lot of coffee business in Hawaii, and so I thought biscotti was a natural choice. We met Chris in 2010 with his husband, David Schwartz, and they had moved with the intention of starting a bakery. We started talking about how we could work together because it’s more fun doing things with more people.
How do you come up with the recipes?
Chris: It takes time and a lot of experience to be able to research a particular product category, — like scones, for example. You find out what makes up a scone recipe, what are the products, comparing recipes. Then you experiment and do lots of different versions and taste them to see what works. Some of them, you know right when they come out of the oven it’s not a success, and you just move on. For our brownie recipe, we probably went through 45 different versions before we came up with the final product. With the biscotti, we have a pretty good level of experience, as far as what makes a good base recipe, and now it’s more about how we marry flavors into the product that work well together.
Where do you sell your products?
Morris: All over Kauai in different stores, and we have bakery products in different restaurants. We also have an online store and a list of our locations on our website (see below).
Chris: We also do the farmer’s market at the community college every Saturday, and the Art Walk in Kapaa the first Saturday of each month, where we sell various products and do cakes by the slice.
How do you manage to stay so slim?
Chris: Small bites, and I’m on my feet all day.
Morris: All of our products are high-quality — we use real cream, butter and vanilla, which make a really fantastic-tasting product, so little bites are much more satisfying.
What makes you get up every day and go to work? Chris: I still love spending time in the kitchen. I enjoy getting up early and getting into work.
Morris: I appreciate working with our wholesale and retail customers. They really like our products, and that makes everything worthwhile. And I love our interaction in the kitchen.