Maui business owners get much-needed boost from Made in Hawaii Festival

The Hawaii Convention Center plays home for the annual event this year with a portion of the proceeds going towards Maui relief.
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 2:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui vendors at the 29th Made in Hawaii Festival got a much-needed economic boost.

Many said they saw business drop dramatically after the Lahaina wildfire prompted many visitors to cancel their trips.

This year’s festival was held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu with 10% of ticket sale proceeds benefitting Maui relief. About 30 of the 450 local vendors were from Maui, making products ranging from chili oil, wellness products, jewelry, island clothing and more.

They say they’re worried about the ongoing impact of the wildfires on tourism.

“Our business, it’s 95% tourism, got really affected because everybody left. And so now all the stores, all the restaurants are empty. And nobody is there to support the rest of the businesses,” said Renee Ocampo, owner of 808 Clothing Maui, which has two stores in Kihei.

“We’re really impacted not only me, everybody that is a small business on Maui, people are cutting hours or closing stores for for now until things get better. It’s a really, really sad situation.”

“There’s a lot of damage. There is a line and that side of Maui, don’t go there. However, Kahului, the airport, we are open for business, South Maui, Kihei, Wailea, we are more than open for business,” said Moku Pua co-owner Sean Conklin.

“Come and visit with a little respect. Bring your spirit of aloha with you understand that there are some people who are hurt and broken. But there are also a lot of people who live and thrive on that island and we need you guys to come down and say aloha.”

Festival organizers say the event is a way for folks on Oahu to support those impacted by the devastation on Maui.

“If you spend your money here in Hawaii and you support local businesses, they are able to sustain themselves, feed their families and also hire more local people, so it’s cyclical. We import 80 to 90% of the goods here in the islands but if you spend your money here in the islands that’s what gonna keep us alive and that’s what gonna keep us afloat,” said Olena Heu, Made in Hawaii Festival spokesperson.

100% of HiLife festival t-shirt sales were donated to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.

Rocio Trasancos contributed to this article.