Talk Story with Kupu A'e
Posted on January 17 2020
You’ve met our Lauaʻe print, now hear a first-hand account of how art and magic created the Kupu Aʻe x ALOHA Collection collaboration, as told by Kalaʻe of Kupu Aʻe.
In March of 2019, with seven team members, three models, one photographer and a videographer in tow, our team took off to the island of Molokaʻi for a photoshoot.
What started as a work trip quickly turned into magic when we serendipitously connected with Kauwela and Kalaʻe of the local brand Kupu Aʻe.
After being invited to Kauwela’s home for a family BBQ, our Creative Director, Rachael, was shown around Kauwela’s home and was awestruck by the family's beautiful artwork. Always finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places, Rachael asked permission to take a photo of silkscreened curtains, which featured a print of the Lauaʻe fern. This would go on to become the first ALOHA Collection x Kupu Aʻe collaboration.
KUPU AʻE ʻOHANA
Growing up, the sisters of Kupu Aʻe learned silk screening from their mother. They had a workshop in their home where their mom would silkscreen clothing, fabrics and pareos, which they then sold at fundraisers to support their hula hālau (hula school).
When trying to come up with a name for their business, the word 'Kupu', which means 'to grow,' kept coming up. The family tossed around several names, but then thought to add 'A'e', after Kalaʻe’s nickname: "Aʻe", and that is how the Kupu Aʻe name came to be! According to Kalaʻe, the mana (power & energy) behind the name is "family and belief."
Kupu Aʻe is now a small family business run by five generations of ʻohana on the island of Molokaʻi. They create art on fabrics inspired by their Hawaiian culture, lifestyle, and those who have come before them. Every piece they create is Molokaʻi-made and one-of-a-kind wearable art.
"One of our mottos is “Kupuna inspired, wahine desired.” It just goes back to leaning on your ancestors and how they support you, even though they are not physically here.”
You can find the family at their shop on Molokaʻi, where they sell their one-of-a-kind pieces. We are so honored to call the Kupu Aʻe team our ʻohana!