LIHU‘E — A heartbeat started to thump in the depths of the isolation and limited social gatherings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I still have school,” said Chloe Ayonon, a seventh-grader at Island School. “That’s why we couldn’t meet until after school let out. I can wear these clothes to school. It’s all right with the school.”
Ayonon teamed with Zaylee Doi-Desmarais, an eighth-grade student at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, to give birth to Beat Athletica, an outlet for what Doi-Demarais described as “athleisure wear:” functional, comfortable and fashionable clothing geared for active lifestyles.
“The novel coronavirus was here, and we needed something to do over the summer,” said Ayonon. “We had nothing to do. We tried several business ventures like babysitting, baking and making scrunchies.”
Doi-Demarais let go one of those typical, middle-school student bursts of laughter.
“Yeah,” she said. “Two of the three (business ventures) worked.”
Ayonon said they found an overseas manufacturer, and after working with different fabrics, liked what they got back, giving birth to yet another business opportunity — a heartbeat.
Both girls found each other when they were 4 years old at dance class.
“Yeah,” Doi-Desmarais said. “Ballet.”
The Beat Athletica website states that at age 6, Ayonon was diagnosed with a heart defect, and later that same year, Doi-Desmarais was diagnosed with epilepsy
“Although we experienced health challenges, we did not let these diagnoses define us — the beat went on,” the website states.
In late August, Beat Athletica was born in the new challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the “Beat” in Beat Athletica representing forward motion.
“It’s been increasing daily,” said Cyndi Ayonon, Chloe’s grandmother, in a text. “Their business launched a month ago, and have already done two pop-up sales events, and continue to do well with online orders. They have more than 930 follows on Instagram, with daily increases.”
Recently, the pair of young entrepreneurs volunteered with the Zonta Club of Kaua‘i when the Westin Princeville Resort Ocean Villas distributed food to its furloughed employees in partnership with the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank.
This was an opportunity to demonstrate the line’s functionality and comfort, the two entrepreneurs also having the opportunity to discuss their business venture with Zonta Club members who were impressed with their saga.
“We realize that we will continue to face obstacles in life,” the pair of young girls state on their website. “But one thing is certain — while the rhythm changes, the Beat never stops.”
Ayonon said they got help from their families in getting to this point where they collate orders, make the orders and ship completed gear to customers.
“If the customers live close, we sometimes deliver to them,” Doi-Desmarais said. “It’s not hard work, just a lot of work. The other two business ventures? We don’t have enough time now.”
Shoppers wishing to view the offerings of assorted tops, leggings, shorts, jackets and even face masks can visit www.beatathletica.com, view the offerings and colors on the website that even offers a guide to sizing. Gift cards are also available.
“The ‘Beat’ represents heartbeat,” Ayonon said. “Beat Athletica represents forward motion — the greater the challenge, the faster the Beat.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.