Maui’s To Be Organics, Farm to Fuge and Waiwaolani chosen for business accelerator program

June 17, 2024

Maui’s To Be Organics, Farm to Fuge and Waiwaolani chosen for business accelerator program

June 7, 2024 · 12:01 AM HST
* Updated June 7, 2024 · 5:32 AM

Mana Up has selected three Maui businesses to join its ninth cohort for the six month accelerator program running from June to November this year. This cohort’s companies from Maui are To Be Organics, Farm to Fudge, and Waiwaolani.

To Be Organics is a self-care company in Wailuku that focuses on high quality, organic, self care. Its luxury, natural products for bath, body and home are handcrafted from start to finish on Maui, using locally and organically sourced ingredients and eco-conscious packaging.

Karli Rose Supera-Wilson of To Be Organics. PC: Courtesy Mana Up.

Farm to Fudge is a Kahului-based bakery that makes premium dark chocolate coconut fudge with nutrient density in mind, using plant-based, high-quality ingredients, no added sugar, artificial flavorings, gluten, or dairy. Its fudge are handcrafted on Maui using locally and organically (as much as possible) sourced ingredients.

Janice Leilani Lafontaine of Farm to Fudge. PC: Courtesy Mana Up.

Waiwaolani is a Hawai’i-based clothing brand that hopes to share the importance of native Hawaiian species through cool and comfy everyday wear for the family. The company specializes in prints of Native Hawaiian plants.

Roselani Aiwohi of Waiwaolani. PC: Courtesy Mana Up.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

They join 85 Hawai‘i-based companies that have graduated from Mana Up since its founding in 2018. 

In addition to these Maui businesses in Cohort 9, Mana Up also featured 11 Maui small businesses in the Aloha Market NYC that took place in April 2024. Aloha Market NYC garnered a feature on Good Morning America highlighting Maui-based Nāpili Flo Farm and Maui Chili Chili Oil. 

All companies in ninth cohort

Mana Up saw 163 local companies apply for its cohort, interviewed 68, and announced that 10 Hawai‘i-based companies accepted into this year’s program. 

Over half of the companies in the ninth cohort of Mana Up are pursuing innovative product development sourced from local agriculture including Bizia Surf and Coffee Bar, Farm to Fudge, Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative, Honua Skincare, Kaua‘i Hemp Co., Sea Crunchies and To Be Organics. Ingredients that companies are locally sourcing for their products in the food, health and beauty categories are: invasive albizia trees, cacao, ‘ulu (Hawaiian breadfruit), Hawaiian healing botanicals, hemp and seaweed. 

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

The ninth cohort application cycle yielded the following data: 

  • Island: O‘ahu (60%), Hawai‘i Island (15%), Maui (18%), Kaua‘i (5%), and Moloka‘i (2%)
  • Income breakdown: $500,000+ (23%), $100,000-$500,00 (26%), under $100,000 (51%)
  • Average employees: 2.92

This year’s applicants are optimistic about the future, says Mana Up. In reporting their 2023 revenue, versus what they expected to make in 2024, there was an expected increase of 20%.

Last year, Mana Up alumni companies generated $81 million in total revenue and helped create 874 jobs in Hawai‘i; they grew at a mean rate of 33% annually. 

The companies in Cohort 9 will participate in a six-month accelerator that includes weekly workshops, curated mentor introductions, access to sales channels and customized goal setting. Special perks of this year’s program include a customized brand brief articulating each company’s key narratives, a two-minute video spotlight, and a feature in the 2024 Mana Up Showcase.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

“We are excited to welcome this diverse and innovative group into our ninth cohort. Each company’s unique strengths and commitment to leveraging local resources are vital for Hawai‘i’s economic sustainability. We also look forward to working with three Maui entrepreneurs on their journeys as they rebuild revenue streams and create local jobs.” said Meli James, co-founder of Mana Up.

Here are the 10 companies selected for Cohort 9: 

  • Alikaleo Park is an everyday kids’ active wear company that weaves 3 generations of history since 1953, providing children with colorful and funky clothing that has UPF protection. Each piece is intentionally oversized for longer wear between sizes. Founded by Alx and Sarah Kawakami in Honolulu, O‘ahu.
  • Bizia Surf & Coffee Bar is a full-service cafe and specialty surfboard retailer that builds surfboards and other products using wood from invasive albizia trees. Founded by Christine and Joey Valenti in Wahiawa, O‘ahu.
  • Farm to Fudge is a premium dark chocolate coconut fudge handcrafted on Maui using locally sourced and organic ingredients selected with nutrient density in mind. Founded by Janice Leilani Lafontaine in Kahului, Maui. 
  • Hawaiʻi ʻUlu Cooperative is a farmer-owned business revitalizing ʻulu (breadfruit) and other Hawaiʻi-grown staples. Founded by Dana Shapiro in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i Island. 
  • Honua Skincare is an esthetician-founded facial line combining Hawaiian botanicals and traditional healing practices with modern skincare technology to target the root causes of skin conditions, while delivering remarkable results for all skin types and ages. Founded by Kapua Browning in Honolulu, O‘ahu.
  • Kaua‘i Hemp Co. crafts premium CBD wellness products using organic Kaua‘i-grown hemp, blending multigenerational farming traditions with innovation. Founded by Judiah McRoberts & Daryl Kaneshiro in Kōloa, Kaua‘i. 
  • Kris Goto is a Honolulu-based artist who creates original artwork combining inspiration she draws from the surf, ocean and culture in Hawai‘i with her Japanese heritage, adding a whimsical twist. Founded by Kris Goto in Honolulu, O‘ahu.
  • Sea Crunchies offers unique seasonings made with Hawai‘i-grown and harvested seaweed, naturally delicious and rich in protein, fiber and antioxidants. Founded by Jina Wye in Mililani, O‘ahu.
  • To Be Organics is a Maui-based company creating all-natural and hand-crafted luxury bath, body & home products in small batches using the highest quality certified organic ingredients. Founded by Karli Rose Supera-Wilson in Wailuku, Maui. 
  • Waiwaolani is a Native Hawaiian-owned and operated brand designing comfortable clothing and accessories featuring prints inspired by native Hawaiian plants, made for everyday wear. Founded by Roselani Aiwohi on Maui. 

Mana Up Cohort 9 officially kicked off on June 4 and culminates with its annual Mana Up Showcase event taking place on Nov. 7, 2024.

Mana Up launches Cohort 9 with the support of its program partners: Title Partner Kamehameha Schools, Founder Partners Bank of Hawai‘i, Altres, and Castle & Cooke; Innovator Partners, HTDC and Innovate Hawaii; Voyager Partners American Savings Bank, Ulupono Initiative, Young Brothers, UHA Hawai‘i, Pineapple Tweed, Shopify, Foodland, DFS and Dole Plantation. These partners also bring their expertise and skill sets to the program: ALTRES, Bank of Hawai‘i, and Innovate Hawai‘i will all contribute to workshops and office hours during the program, to name a few.