Exactly 1 year ago L/E+I first launched as a collaboration between two girls - one who wanted to start a business and one who wanted to gather a community. Starting something alone is terrifying. That's why I am so grateful that Ivory came alongside me and believed in what I hoped to create here on Kauai. There's been countless times where she has been that added push to show me that I CAN do the things that I dream of and that its ok to be an ongoing work in progress.
What is L/E+I to you? LEI is a catalyst to create, skill share and support other lady entrepreneurs on Kaua'i. It has always been that for me. From the get go, there has been some confusion between my company, The Lei Collective (TLC) and LEI. And rightfully so. In some ways, TLC was born because of LEI and it really wasn’t a coincidence that my first public lei po’o workshop was also the launch event for LEI. Confused yet? Lets just say, TLC had been something I’ve been thinking about doing for the last 2 years. It took a little birdie named, Bria, to really kick my butt into gear and put the LEI event on the calendar along with my very first workshop to get it going. I got a text from Bria about doing a joint launch of TLC and LEI in October last year and within the week I got my business license, name, logo and website up for TLC. Sometimes you need just a little push in the right direction, you know? And LEI was exactly that to me. How are you involved within L/E+I?
I could see LEI coming into fruition for a long time now. There are so many amazing lady entrepreneurs and innovators on Kaua’i but when Bria walked in bright eyed and ready to draw up what that looks like, did it finally happen and I was just lucky enough to be on the sidelines to support her along the way. Sometimes it can be hard to start things on Kaua’i, I warned her, think that stopped her? Nope. And here we are. I helped get LEI on social media and connected a few of the North Shore entrepreneur ladies that already had their own meetings once a month in Kilauea. My part was minimal to say the least, but I'm still super grateful to have been a part of it from the beginning.
Why is this a community you invest time and energy into? Kaua’i tends to work in silos. We tend to stay within our circles, comfort zones and rarely leave our ‘side’ of the island. Raise your hand if that sounds familiar. (Guilty, as charged!) But I truly believe that there is a need for us to connect across sectors, friend groups and skill sets in order to build a stronger community and economy. I love that LEI is able to bring together women entrepreneurs and innovators across the island, of different walks of life but all with a mission to create a better life here on Kaua’i. A lot of times groups are put together because they are made up of “like-minded” individuals, LEI brings together great minds and I’d like to think that is worth investing time and energy into something to incubate that.
Melanie launched a weekly gathering of women down on the Southside this past summer that quickly grew in size and gained momentum. When she and I first met, a few weeks after she had started, it was so refreshing and encouraging to hear another woman speaking the same language with the same passion to gather women together in an effort to nurture ideas and dreams forward. She is constantly gathering feedback from the Southside group, seeking out resources for these women and being a consistent in creating space every Monday for this group to gather.
What is LEI to you? For me LEI is a community of “incubators” that create a supportive environment to propel forward in life. I I have been in Kauai 3 years, quit my job as a nurse a few months ago, and have been called to gather women. Long story short- I don’t have an entrepreneurial background or anything but put it out there to a few friends that I wanted women who had their own businesses or wanted to start one, should start meeting up. A few weeks later there were about 15 of them. I’m honestly probably the only one of them that ironically doesn’t have a business. How are you involved within LEI? I’ve gathered a community of women that regularly meets on the Southside that are focused on their businesses or interested in starting one. My goal is to act as a facilitator and help these women find connections and resources they need to grow. Most of all though I wanted a safe space for women to come together and feel supported. I gather feedback from the women that show up and bring in expertise that can be the resources that are necessary for growth. Why is this a community you invest time and energy into? Gathering this community helps strengthen our bonds as women. We help nurture and support one another as we go through our individual processes. We can all feel a little less alone as we look at the similarities in one another, rather than the differences. We may each be on a different path in life or business endeavors, but we are all searching for ways to feel connected and understood.
Last year when I planned the first L/E+I gathering I had no idea that it would still be going a year later. Its odd to think of myself as a "founder" because its really the women that show up and engage in the conversation that make this community magical. I am just grateful that on this tiny island there is a powerhouse community of women that give space to each other to grow and encourage each other to go after their dreams.
What is LEI to you?
L/E+I is a community that acts as an incubator - a safe space to ask questions, try new things and discuss ideas. Its a community that lifts up, shares resources and encourages each other. My hope is that it is inclusive and supportive - a space where dreamers and doers gather together to build momentum for the next thing. This is not another Rising Tide or Yellow Co or even The Wing (thought all these are amazing and we fully support the work they are doing ) . This is a grassroots movement of women with deep seeded dreams that bring life to the community they live in.
How are you involved within LEI?
While I am technically the initiator or founder of this community I see myself as a facilitator that creates platforms of opportunity for others. I focus in on creating an ongoing communication through instagram and monthly newsletters that connect the community of women on this island through events and stories.
Why is this a community you invest time and energy into?
As a business owner myself, I find so much inspiration and support when gathering with other women to ask questions and share resources. It makes the hard things seem easier to overcome. It can be easy to think that your the only one wrestling with a question or facing an obstacle - but when this community gathers together there is a sense of belonging and energy in learning alongside each other that gives freedom to try new things.