PO‘IPU — The award being wheeled in by artist Monika Mira drew an audience Thursday as people wondered about the colorful piece atop the undersized wagon brought into the Po‘ipu Shopping Village.
“It’s Monika Mira,” said Oeita Kauakahi of Coldwell Banker at Po‘ipu Shopping Village. “I haven’t seen her for a while, and wonder what she’s been up to.”
Mira, representing the More Responsible Living group that she founded a few years back, was delivering the first More Responsible Business Award to Kristal Muhich of Kaua‘i Juice Company who, as an individual, exemplifies everything it means to be a socially and environmentally responsible business, Mira said.
“In between art shows and beach cleanups with the Surfrider Foundation, I decided to recognize businesses that have implemented more-responsible practices, including eliminating plastic waste, supporting local farmers, supporting local artists, promoting healthy lifestyles and more,” said Mira, an award-winning artist.
“I call it the ‘More Responsible Business Award.’ I created a marine-debris mosaic to honor their commitment to more-responsible business practices and less plastic waste.”
Mira created More Responsible Living a few years ago with the mission of promoting and sharing more socially- and environmentally-responsible practices, including the growing and purchasing of local organic food, and choosing plastic-free and reusable packaging.
She said the Kaua‘i Juice Company is a model for others who wish to do business in this current state of environmental affairs.
“We love everything about Kristal’s business model,” Mira said. “The Kaua‘i Juice Company sources local products that put the health of our island and its people first. Kristal is an inspiration.”
Kaua‘i Juice Company was founded as Kaua‘i Kombucha in 2010.
“I’ve always been a huge advocate of juice cleansing and fasting,” Muhich said.
“It had helped me so much over the years. Honestly, it was when I learned about cold-pressed juice that I decided to expand. I had not realized that you could bottle juice after juicing it a certain way and it would still keep its integrity and full nutritional value,” she said.
”Once I learned that and saw what other companies were able to do, I knew I wanted to bring it to Kaua‘i so other people could experience the same benefits I have had.”
Muhich said the connection to the land and farmers is key.
“Besides the fact that local produce holds more nutrient value, by purchasing local and supporting organic-farming methods you are circulating wealth in all sorts of ways into the community you live in,” she said.
“When going into business, I encourage everyone to think about how they can funnel more abundance into their location, and to the people they love.”
The Kaua‘i Juice Company has grown to three locations on Kaua‘i — Po‘ipu, Kapa‘a and Kilauea, with plans to move into Koloa within the year. Its product line has grown from kombucha to a range of products including hot sauce, elixirs, salts, bone broth and more that are also available for ordering online.
The growth has been accompanied by plans that address recycling and reuse, social responsibility and other issues that are always present for businesses struggling to stay afloat in a competitive world.
“At some point, we have to stop pointing the finger at everyone else around us and start taking actions that create positive impacts on our planet,” Muhich said.
“No one is perfect, but we can’t expect everyone else to solve this problem for us. At some point, we have to stop buying so much crap, and buy items that leave little trace behind. I wanted a business that people knew when they shopped here, they were part of that solution, not the other way around,” she said.
“I started this business 10 years ago, and for a long time it was all I knew,” Muhich said.
“It was so much work for so long, I just didn’t even have the capacity to see what was going on around me. Luckily, I’m past that phase, and am really appreciative for not only going through it, but now having all the knowledge I have because of it.
“I am truly honored that Kaua‘i has allowed Kaua‘i Juice Company to thrive and expand. Because of that, I will never be the same. I owe so much to this land and to its people.”