Riding out the recession with 'In4mation'

Ryan Arakaki
Ryan Arakaki
Jun Jo
Jun Jo
Greg Lee
Greg Lee

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

ALA MOANA (KHNL) - Four local guys, friends for more than ten years, have managed to ride out the recession.

They started out with one shop in Central Oahu seven years ago. Today, they've made a name for themselves in 120 stores around the world.

The creators of the brand 'In4mation' say the troubled economy hasn't knocked them off their skateboards or surfboards.

The four friends say their secret to success is to never grow up.

That's because they cater to a young lifestyle and culture that keeps the wheels in motion for their local business, even in tough economic times.

"I think our demographics of who we cater to, it's not as bad, because it's the younger, youth crowd so they have a little bit more expendable income," said Ryan Arakaki, co-owner of In4mation.

"We're just regular guys, not trying to be cool. We're just working hard trying to put Hawaii on the map for this kind of genre," said Jun Jo, co-owner.

It's a genre the owners of In4mation grew up in. As skaters and surfers themselves, they understand this niche, and that helped launch them to success.

What started out as a tiny shop in Mililani is now a label found around the world, and even attached to some big names.

"This one we did with Vans, which was limited to 500 pieces," said Jo, holding a limited edition Vans shoe.

Their business is all in their name. The '4' in 'In4mation' stands for the four owners, who are in formation to get the word out about products they say similar stores don't have.

"It's not something that everybody else wears, it's really limited. A lot of things that they have, they don't make often so it's like you have to grab it while it's here or you can't get it ever again," said Greg Lee, a customer.

Their products are exclusive, edgy and sometimes tip-toe on extreme.

"This is kind of like a - waving the peace sign but the two fingers are gone. So it's just, you can't be too serious, can't take things too seriously, especially now," said co-owner Todd Shimabuku, pointing to a design on a shirt.

It's serious fun that even the recession can't seem to shake.

In4mation has three stores on Oahu.

The four friends say what sets them apart from similar stores like HIC and Billabong is that their designs are limited. Once they're sold out, they're gone for good.