Mana Up Brings Hawai‘i’s Small Businesses To New York City Pop-Up

April 30, 2024

Mana Up Brings Hawai‘i’s Small Businesses To New York City Pop-Up

Michele Herrmann

Visitors to Hawai‘i often envision its fine sand beaches and cultural venues, but this destination is also home to many locally-owned and operated businesses. In late April, an entrepreneurship is bringing their products and services to New York City through a pop-up marketplace.

Mana Up, a Hawai‘i-based economic development initiative, will host a three-day retail boutique at Shopify NY in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The dates for “Mana Up Aloha Market” are from Friday, April 26 through Sunday, April 28.

“Mana Up Aloha Market” will showcase 40 Hawai‘i companies with unique, island-made products that support and celebrate numerous small businesses from Maui, who endured the devastating effects of the 2023 wildfires.

Amid these companies, the “Mana Up Aloha Market” will spotlight 10 Maui-based businesses in a special area called “Aloha for Maui” and dedicated to the products from this island. These businesses will include Advance Wildlife Education; HI Spice; Maui Chili Chili Oil; Maui Crisps; Maui Kuia Estate; Maui Nui; Nāpili FLO Farm; Chef Sheldon Simeon, Vitalitea Hawaii; and Wrappily.

The three-day market will also host insightful educational sessions focused on Maui’s ongoing recovery efforts along with other programming highlighting Hawaiian culture, foods and industries.

Mana Up was co-founded by Hawai‘i residents, friends and entrepreneurs Meli James and Brittany Heyd and launched in 2018. It is an accelerator and venture fund whose purpose is to increase economic opportunity and jobs for the people of Hawaiʻi through promoting products by the islands’ local businesses to global markets.

Its six-month long accelerator program works with participating businesses across the Hawaiʻi islands, which selected through an application process, in providing results-driven training. Along with offering business training-related resources, Mana Up also operates a brick-and-mortar store known as House of Mana featuring these vendors’ products.

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Overtime, Mana Up has grown to now have 30 employees and a retail footprint now incorporating seven stores selling products from 100 percent Hawai‘i entrepreneurs.

According to Heyd, Shopify, an e-commerce company, provided Mana Up with the opportunity to bring this aspect of Hawaii to New York City.

“As our mission is to grow Hawaii brands globally, this is a perfect way for NYC — a hub for global brands — to experience the newest up-and-coming products in Hawaii,” said Heyd. “We were happily surprised that so many of the entrepreneurs wanted to travel with us, so we will have a wonderful group of fantastic small business owners onsite.”

Along with featuring these companies, the program for the “Mana Up Aloha Market” will extend to demonstrations, children’s activities, presentational discussions and tastings.

Mana Up Co-Founder Meli James said that the event will offer an extraordinary weekend experience to attendees.

“It’s not just about shopping; it’s about embarking on a vibrant journey,” explained James. “This event presents a rare opportunity for New Yorkers to fully immerse themselves in the richness of Hawaii's culture, as the ‘Aloha Market’ will spotlight our talented entrepreneurs and their diverse array of innovative Hawaii products. We hope those who attend will enjoy the captivating demos, tastings, and sessions — while discovering a new appreciation for everything that Hawaii has to offer. “

The hours of operation for “Mana Up Aloha Market” are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27 and from 10 a.m. to 4 pm on Sunday, April 28. Shopify NYC is located at 131 Greene St. General admission is free while some events require tickets. For a complete schedule and more information, visit this website.

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