June 01 2021
Meet our friend Tanya Uyehara, native Hawaiian owner and designer of Lahaʻole Designs.
How Lahaʻole Designs Came To Be
Tanya, Born on the island of Oʻahu, has always enjoyed creating. Raised in a family of craftsmen, musicians, hula dancers, and artists, Tanya never lacked for inspiration. During maternity leave with her fourth child in 2013, a local shop was offering jewelry making classes. Tanya jumped on the opportunity to expand her creativity. She wanted to design pieces that were unique, meaningful, and shared her native Hawaiian culture. With this intention, Lahaʻole Designs was born. Lahaʻole’s creations are made to tell a story that brings each piece to life.
When Tanya came to us with the idea of a collaboration, we were interested in hearing her story. We asked her to share the meaning behind her original pīkake creations. Listen below to hear Tanya’s story first-hand.
Tūtū's Jewelry Box, Where You Will Find the Inspiration Behind Tanya's Pīkake Design
Tūtū’s (Tanyaʻs grandmother) jewelry box sits on a bookshelf, along with many other memories from her years as the master dancer for the great Hawaiian songwriter Lena Machado.
There on the bookshelf you can find ipu, haku lei, kukui nut and stacks of songbooks. But among all of the treasure, inside the jewelry box, you will find Tūtū’s mother’s pīkake lei. This lei was the inspiration for Tanya’s original pīkake design, which launched Lahaʻole Designs.
Tanya Visits Auntie Lei's Farm and Connects with the Pīkake
In Waiʻanae, on the westside of Oʻahu, sits 25 acres of land that has been passed down for four generations to Auntie Lei. Auntie Lei's grandmother was given the land as a wedding gift many years ago, and since then Auntie Lei and her two sons have transformed the land into a sweeping pīkake farm. If you live on the westside, you likely know of this beautiful place.
Roaming the fields, you can often find Auntie Lei with a simple white bucket tied around her waist by a single string. This is all you need to pick pīkake. The delicate flower is then crafted into lei for all sorts of celebrations, from weddings, to graduations, as well as the famed Merrie Monarch competition. Pīkake, with its sweet smelling fragrance, is a favorite among those gifting and celebrating loved ones.
It’s no wonder that Tanya would come to name her company Lahaʻole, after the Hawaiian word for “rare, choice or unique”. She continues to seek out inspiration from generations before her, hearing stories of her Tūtū dancing hula and connecting with kupuna like Auntie Lei on the pīkake farm.
In addition to creating beautiful jewelry pieces, Tanya has begun to craft a line of clothing and laser etched home goods, all rooted in her Native Hawaiian culture. Tanya creates each of her pieces with heart and meaning, dedicating her creations to the people she loves and the many parts of Hawaiʻi she treasures. Most days, you can find Tanya in her home studio creating magic or talking stories with friends and family.
You can now carry a piece of both Lahaʻole and ALOHA Collection with our Limited-Edition collaboration bags.
Photos by Kicking Bird Photography