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Mana Up helps Hawaii entrepreneurs market their products to the world

Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 5:09 PM HST

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The House of Mana Up store in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center sells more than 2,000 different products with one common denominator.

They are all created by Hawaii companies.

“Our store in the heart of Waikiki is featuring many of our local entrepreneurs who have come through our program. We’re helping them tell their stories and connect with tourists and locals who are looking to explore new products in the islands,” Mana Up co-founder Meli James said.

Mana Up’s goal is to turn small, local businesses that produce packaged goods into global players by giving them a blueprint to grow their sales.

That help was a lifesaver during the pandemic.

“The first half of our program is primarily focused on digital marketing, e-commerce and direct to consumer, which literally was game-changing for the companies here who traditionally had relied a lot on retail, especially in tourist areas that dried up,” James said.

Amber Thibaut owns Coco Moon. She went through Mana Up’s six-month accelerator boot camp and now gets orders from across the mainland for her Hawaii-themed blankets and accessories.

“If there’s anything the pandemic and Mana Up taught us it’s that you really have to be on your toes, willing to change at any given time, and really be open to exploring new ideas,” she said.

Since Mana Up’s founding, it has worked with 51 Hawaii entrepreneurs, teaching them to sell their goods and tell their Hawaii stories more effectively.

“We’re really trying to bring these products to the world,” James said.

“I got involved with Mana Up because I was really looking to push my own limits and look for creative ways to grow my business,” Thibaut said.

Mana Up is starting a new accelerator class with 10 more local companies.

“We love meeting new entrepreneurs, and giving some advice so they can continue to move along, and at some point be able to be a perfect fit for our program,” James said.

In 2019, businesses that went through Mana Up’s program generated $38 million in revenue for the state. To learn more about the entrepreneurs and see their products, click here.

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