KAPA‘A — Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank recently got a check for more than $600 and a Kaua‘i resident has a stack of gift certificates to local businesses, thanks to a t-shirt-design contest held by Heather Singleton, owner of the Aloha State T-Shirt Co.
The online, social-media contest sprouted out of a desire to support young artists and to give back to the community, Singleon said.
The first design contest was themed around COVID-19 and was launched March 24. Voting on designs ended April 20, and the winner is Maile Miyake. She received 1,500 votes for her design, which reads “Stay Home, Stay Pono,” and encourages people to make lei from their homes.
In second place is Liko Dowling with 1,482 votes. He created a design showing Mayor Derek Kawakami throwing shakas only, wearing a shirt that says “Kaua‘i is on vacation.” He is depicted amid Kapa‘a businesses.
The first rule of the contest was “Create a T-Shirt design with a positive message embodying our aloha spirit as it is being tested by this pandemic.”
Aloha State T-Shirt Co. started in late 2019 and uses two direct-to-garment printers to capture all the fine details of a design, like a photo of a painting.
“The DTG printers’ detail is insane. You literally could print out a picture if you wanted to,” said Singleton.
When the pandemic hit and Singleton decided to look for ways to help the community, she chose a contest in lieu of just donating to the food bank because she wanted to involve as many people as possible.
“We are all in a slump. I already love doing charity events, so the first thing I thought of was the food bank (KIFB). In the future I want to donate to Hawaii Foodbank, too, so I created this contest while I build my artist program,” said Singleton. “We ended up with 42 designs. When people turned them in, they thanked me for doing the contest.”
Miyake received different gift certificates valued at $1,000 from local businesses including Wailua Shave Ice, Kaua‘i Juice Co., Kenji Burger, Saimin Dojo and Kealia Organics.
“So good. It was such a fun competition, especially in quarantine and how close the votes were getting,” said Miyake.
“I wanted to keep a Hawaiian cultural connection to my design. I used my friend Anu as my model, and to show that during this time of quarantine we can connect back with our culture from being home by doing small things like making lei po‘o.”
Singleton wants to continue printing a selected amount of shirts from the contest, and hopes to be able to turn in a check to the food banks on a monthly basis until things get better.
“Thank you for the sacrifices that everybody has made. What kept our family positive throughout the whole thing was that we are here on Kaua‘i and we are supporting each other no matter what,” said Singleton.
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.