Showcasing Island Artists

Anna Ulmer sells locally made products at Halele‘a in Kukui‘ula Shopping Village. Coco Zickos photos

Anna Ulmer
Owner of Halele‘a

Please tell us about your business. Halele’a is a boutique and gallery located in Kukui’ula Shopping Village, featuring all Hawai’i artists and designers. We sell oneof-a-kind products such as art, jewelry, furniture, clothing, accessories and ceramics. Most of the artists are from Kaua’i. My business partner is Chelsae Millard, and my husband, Chad, is a huge part of Halele’a’s success. Four years ago, the business started in Hanapepe and was called Puka Boutique and Gallery.

Why did you get started in this business? It was always a dream of mine to own a business like this. I have an art and fashion background and went to school in New York, studying fine art and design marketing, so it’s serendipitous. I didn’t plan to move to Kaua’i to open a gallery, but it’s exactly what I studied and it’s what my family’s done my grandpa had an art gallery and my great-grandfather was an artist. They also started a fine art reproduction company that they then sold to Time magazine, so they were involved in all aspects of it.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? Supporting all the artists and having relationships with them it’s kind of like one big family. I also get really excited when I see all their new stuff because some of the younger artists, you really see them grow.

What is the most challenging aspect of what you do? The hours. I’m here most days of the week.

What makes you get up every day and go to work? A combination of both being around all the art and the artists. Also the visitors, and sharing with them really unique, great things that people make here. Also, some of the artists and designers we feature, and the artwork itself, you really can experience people connecting with it, which is great. I love that part, it’s really inspiring.

Do you have a mixture of kama’aina and visitor patrons? Yes. We try to have special events, and we have a very loyal group of customers who follow a few of our designers.

What kind of special events do you have? Being a boutique and gallery, we try to have regular trunk shows and art openings.

What can people expect if they attend a trunk show? We used to focus on just one designer, but now we like to combine a couple like a jewelry designer with clothing and purses and bring together everyone’s friends and supporters. The clothing and the jewelry, a lot of times the best pieces sell right away, so it’s a chance to see the latest designs and meet the designers.

Do you have any upcoming shows? We have an art opening for Pepe. He’s a young artist from the North Shore. It’s happening Friday, Nov. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m.

What can people expect if they come to an art opening? For the art, they will see new originals that have never been seen before and get to meet the artists.

Do you feel it’s important to buy locally made products? Yes! It supports the local economy, and it supports each artist and them living their dream and doing what they want to do. It’s like a chain reaction. The more people support locally made, the more people can do what they really want.

What are some of your favorite products you sell? Veronica jewelry and MachineMachine clothes.

Do you personally create any art? I used to make jewelry, and I painted all throughout college. I hope to get back into painting.

What sets your business apart from others? It’s the collection of artists as a whole the way we put it together. Also, the environment. We really stress a friendly, colorful, happy, peaceful Hawaiian-style environment.

What does Halele’a mean? House of joy. People have also told us that it’s a region on the North Shore behind Hanalei.

If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing? I’d be a buyer for Anthropologie.

Halele’a 2819 Ala Kalanikaumaka Road

Open daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.