Talk Story: Dave Boucher

KOLOA — Nestled on Koloa Road and overlooking a valley is David Boucher’s ranch.

“It’s just beautiful; I get a view of the Mahaulepu Range and I can see Waialeale from here,” Boucher said. “We’re blessed by the Lord to have this land.”

The 10-acre property boasts 24 sheep and goats, a cow, a dozen chickens, three horses and two dogs.

“Having horses and being in all this nature is very rewarding,” Boucher said. “Being able to get fresh eggs from your own chickens and having baby goats, all of that is very relaxing and rewarding.”

Originally from Rhode Island, Boucher moved to Kauai in 1979. He considers himself to be a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy.

“One night, I was doing a full moon ride with my friends on a beach, and I said, ‘That’s it, I’m going to get a horse.’ I’ve had horses ever since,” he said. “I’ve been riding horses for 20 years.”

Boucher, general manager at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler, is also a beekeeper, selling the honey he harvests to local stores.

Recently, he started Paniolo Kauai, a natural personal care business that uses the harvested beeswax to make deodorant, lip balm, body butter and massage butter.

“That’s part of my mission statement: to keep everything totally healthy,” he said. “All of my products have no chemical base. It’s all natural oil and vegetable products.”

Jasmine, pineapple tangerine and lilikoi ginger are just some of the scents that can be found in Boucher’s products.

How did you get this land?

I had my horses with Daryl Kaneshiro, who bought the 260 acres. He subdivided the land into 10 acres, and made 11 house-lots on 100 acres and kept 160 acres. I bought 10 acres from him about six years ago.

How did you get into beekeeping?

We built our house on the ranch, and were clearing the valley, when we hit bees. So I brought Melvin Dickens, who died last year, out to get the bees out for me. He stuck his hand in the tree, took the bees out, looked at them, smelled them, and he told me, “These are really nice bees, you should keep them.”

I told him he was crazy and I didn’t want anything to do with them. But I was intrigued and started researching beekeeping.

He told me, “Listen, you’re blessed with the land of milk and honey here, you have to keep these bees.” So I did, and some guys mentored me about beekeeping.

How many bees do you have?

I have 15 hives.

How many did you start out with?

I started out with the one hive, and it kept growing. Fifteen is about right for me.

You have 15 hives, do you know how many bees that equates to?

Well, each hives has about 30,000 bees per hive. So I’ll let you do the math.

Why did you want to sell honey?

It’s just a natural thing that happened. I took some classes at Kauai Community College to learn about beekeeping.

I just realized early into it how much honey they produce and how it could be a good side venture for us. My 15 hives produce a surplus of 120 gallons of honey a year.

What’s the hardest part about beekeeping?

You have to take care of your hives because there’s going to be pests that will attack them and wipe them out.

Harvesting honey is a lot of work because it gets really heavy. One hive produces 100 pounds of honey, so that aspect is a lot of hard work. But it’s super fascinating; bees are really interesting, the way they interact with each other and protect the hive.

How did you start your business, Paniolo Kauai?

I was selling honey, and I had quite a lot of beeswax. I built a solar wax melter — I put the wax inside, and the sun melts it down.

So I had all this wax, and started thinking what I should do with it. I started researching what I could do with it, and visitors from the Big Island told me I should make body butter and stuff with it. So I started researching that, and for a year and a half, I worked on my deodorant and body butter recipes. Now I have a massage butter. I have a lip balm and a shaving cream that is just being developed.

I work with a consultant to keep everything natural and as organic as possible.

Why is important to you, keeping everything organic?

It’s very important. One of the whole things I want to promote with my products is health. We have our bees tested to make sure there’s no chemicals in our wax.

Basically I’m trying to achieve three basic things. I want to create healthy products that are all natural. I want to promote and help sustain the bees, and I want to try to give people a little feeling of the island ranch life I fell in love with.

That’s challenging to do with products, but I do it through my story and keeping true to the naturalness of the products.

I’ve been selling honey for about three years. I’ve had my natural care products in stores for about three months.

What’s the process to make your personal care products?

I cook it here in a double boiler; the recipes are all formulated to what we’re looking to achieve here.

I then bottle and label it. All the items I have now are in threes. My deodorant, body butter, massage butter and lip balm, they all have three different scents.

Is there one product that is harder to make than the others?

They’re all a little different to make. I wouldn’t say one is harder than the other.

The deodorant is a little trickier because as I fill containers, I have to keep blending it … the active ingredient is the baking soda, so I have to make sure it’s evenly spread out through the product as I fill the tubes.

The body butter, the challenging part about that is I have to refrigerate it and whip it.

It’s all fun; I enjoy doing it.

How many can you make in a day?

In about four or five hours, I can make about 144 deodorants.

Is it expensive?

Being in Hawaii, shipping is expensive. And using organic products is more expensive. It’s a higher end product, and some people will look at my deodorant for $10 and think it’s expensive. I think the prices are reasonable, and I wanted to keep it as reasonable as possible.

What stores sell your projects?

I’m in Papaya’s, Vim’ n Vigor, Koloa Rum Shop, National Tropical Botanical Garden and Living Foods. I also sell my products on Oahu and the Mainland.

What was your pitch, to get the stores interested?

I really let the product speak for itself. I brought samples in for people to try.

What brought you to Kauai?

My job — I opened up the Hyatt as the executive chef and opened up another Hilton on the island.

So being a chef was a natural progression in cooking body products because I had the knowledge on how to formulate recipes. It’s like cooking, just a little different.

How did you come up with the recipes for your personal care products?

I researched a lot of recipes, and used what works best for me. There was a lot of products I wanted to use — like Kukui nut oil, macadamia nut oil — so I fit those in the recipes so they worked.

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