HANALEI — As Hanalei and Northshore Kaua‘i moves forward in these times that present unprecented challenges in people’s everyday lives, from health to financial troubles, the positive and creative vibes of businesses like O’hanalei gallery are a welcome relief and source of inspiration.
Owner Ryan Hakman, son of legendary surfer Jeff Hakman, aka Mr. Sunset, is at it again, bringing youthful, fresh and exciting new art to Hanalei for everyone’s enjoyment.
Hakman has transformed what was once a small and quaint, boutique-style art gallery into a larger, new and improved gallery and store location. O’hanalei reopened in its new location in November, and has evolved from his passion for art and surf culture.
“I enjoy creating. I see myself as a creator first, not just as a business person.” Hakman said. “As long as I’m doing positive things and staying in a positive mindset and keep creating, then good things will happen.”
O’hanalei is situated alongside other well-known businesses on a block of Kuhio Highway in Hanalei. Neighboring businesses include Hanalei Liquor Store, Tropical Taco and Kai Kane. The gallery’s previous location was across from Hanalei School, where the former Mark Daniell’s gallery was located.
Hakman credits his friend and business partner Keale Chung with being a major driving force for making the gallery what it is now.
“Me and Keale are working on this business together, and I couldn’t do it without him,” Hakman said.
The gallery owner also thanks RVCA surf-apparel company owner Pat Tenore for his support and efforts as Hakman has moved forward with his new location.
Though there are many elements that have been added to the gallery, there are still many things that remain the same. There’s that same, authentic, hometown Hanalei feel and the historical side of the location, which is a strong part of the business’s identity and a large part of what makes it truly unique.
The classic wok that Black Pot Beach Park is named for holds its place of honor by the register.
There’s a display case with priceless memorabilia of Jeff Hakman’s. There’s a treasure trove of items inside, such as a necklace with a gold token signed and given to Hakman by Duke Kahanamoku. Hakman’s career took off when he won the Duke Kahanamoku contest at Sunset Beach in 1965 when he was 17 years old.
There’s also a section of the gallery dedicated to the owner’s father, with merchandise and other items that are Mr. Sunset-themed available.
As for the latest happening at O’hanalei, there is more variety of the kinds of art and products for sale, and a greater quantity of them as well.
Ryan Hakman’s silkscreened T-shirt inventory is expanding, and is a best-seller. Shirt designs are all made in Hanalei, with ones that read “Weke Road,” with photos of the pier on them. All of the surfer-artist’s shirts feature iconic Hanalei landmarks.
Always wanting to keep things fresh and interesting in the store, Hakman said they print about 100 shirts of each design, and then create a new, original design.
Shark-tooth resin art of the owners as well as doorstops and other inventory created by him are in the store as well. His doorstops and other fabric-based works are all hand-silkscreened, and these with other fabric works of his are sewn by mother Cherie Hakman and artist Lynne Hamyoung.
Vintage-style Hakman Parrish surfboards, which the owner terms as “modern originals,” are popular among customers, and will be back in stock soon.
Among the artists featured in the gallery include 3D works by Shane “Wayne” Tasic, Bryce Baker with his “Alien Meets Flower” products, as well as hats created by Brelin Sugahara from his company “Sew Aloha.” There are also artworks by established California artist Sage Vaughn in the gallery.
Along with the excitement of newly added products and apparel, it was also May Day on Saturday, and O’hanalei hosted an event featuring the Pua Bar.
Beautiful plumeria lei hung in front of the entrance over the gallery, and exotic plants and tropicals lined the staircase leading to the doors, attracting the attention of curious passersby.
In front of the building were a variety of native Hawaiian plant starters for sale as well, including many that are rare and difficult to find ranging from nau, ‘ohi‘a, lehua to maile plants and more. Customers were provided information about the flowers and plants and given lei with smiles.
Haylee Kim, owner of Pua Bar, said: “I think in these dark times any way that we can bring aloha and bring more light to people’s day is a good thing.”
Kim just recently started the Pua Bar, and is traveling around the island, bringing the Pua Bar to numerous locations, where she will be setting up “pop-ups” of her business, where people can make lei and bouqets using the unique florals that she provides.
Tasha Rames works with Kim at the Pua Bar, and adds: “It’s an honor to be here on May Day to share our unique flowers with Kaua‘i.”
Rames added that their floral selection is also seasonal.
A small crowd of customers milled about, taking in the sights at the gallery and admiring the flowers and plants at the Pua Bar.
Newlyweds Roy and Peony Cripps of San Francisco got a tour of the gallery from Hakman. Roy Cripps shared, “It’s very unique. We bought hats and enjoyed learning about the history of Hanalei from Ryan. It’s been fun. The people here are so nice.”
Coming up on the weekend of June 26 there will be an art show featuring sculptures at O’hanalei, and will include wine, cheese and crackers.
It’s all a step in the right direction for Hanalei in general, as the other businesses in the area seem to be benefiting from the increase in foot traffic, especially in contrast to the lack of activity due to COVID in Hanalei just over a year ago.
In terms of effects on the business due to COVID and the road closure following the highway landslide between Hanalei and Princeville, the owner says, “We’re here. We’re open. We’re rolling with the punches.” Hakman adds, “We are all going through this and struggling together as a community.”
During convoy road schedule times, O’hanalei is open Tuesday to Friday from 1 to 7 p.m., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and is closed on Mondays.
Monique Rowan is a lifelong North Shore resident who lives in Wainiha and writes periodically for The Garden Island.