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Maile, Marla and Summer Ben-Dor of Nourish Hanalei

Sister Power. Sometimes the best business teams are those that begin from the day of birth. Interviewing this sister team behind the Nourish Hanalei farmstead was such an inspiration of the harmony that can happen when family unites around a common purpose. The unique talents of each sister shines in this business by allowing each to take ownership of the tasks that are best suited to their skillset. The legacy that they are continuing even in the midst of rapid change is inspiring in its openness and adaptability to the unexpected.

Let's start with introducing each sister (there's 3!) and how each contributes to the business? 

Maile is the eldest sister and a mother of two little girls, Luna age 3 and Zara 4 months. When not working, she loves going to the beach, traveling, being outside and getting some alone time (rarely!) to exercise. Her background is in real estate and sales making her excellent at problem solving. When it comes to the business you will find her heading up the “Customer Service” side of our business -  sales, newsletter, community outreach, wholesale 

Marla- Besides cooking and creating, Marla loves the ocean. She finds peace and enjoyment through surfing and being in nature. Marla enjoys traveling with her husband to exotic parts of the world to taste new flavors and experience different cultures. Before returning here she spent time on the mainland as a personal chef after her culinary training and holistic nutritional education. She is the mastermind and the “Creative Director” behind the flavors and the story that come together at Nourish Hanalei - recipe creation, catering, design, apparel, social media

Summer is the youngest of the sibling trio. We call her the “Marie Kondo” of the business as she is always keeping things organized and in check. She loves staying active, being in the ocean and spending time with friends and family. Her background is in marketing, ecommerce and international sales. She is the “Organizer” overseeing all things sales, quickbooks, invoicing, and accounting. 

Who’s idea was this and what was the spark that launched it into action?

Our parents purchased the farm property back in 2002.  It was always our dad’s dream to have a farm. We had a garden growing up and went to the farmer’s market every week. We even set up a lemonade stand at the farmer’s market as young entrepreneurs.

Then a few years ago myself (Summer) and Maile moved back to Kauai and decided to start our dried fruit business whilst Marla was living in California working as a personal chef. We had always wanted to work together and had a passion for food. 

The farm property where our stand is now was unique in that it offers a view that is only available to homes built on the bluff. In 2014 we began by clearing the land and setting up tables to sit at and enjoy the view. Our dad built the initial farmstand, but it wasn't until Marla moved back that we were able to fix up the farm stand and launch our vision in 2019. 

What is it about farms and food that inspires you to action?

We live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific that imports a huge percentage of our goods and food and we want to be a part of the movement to be self-reliant. One of the positives that has come out COVID-19 is that it has made the community more apt and aware of supporting their local businesses and farmers and buying local.

What was a hurdle you’ve had to overcome? 

Where do we begin?! Running a small business means learning how to put out little fires daily and being resilient especially now in the time of COVID-19. We made the difficult decision to temporarily close our farm stand and quickly adapted to what would serve the community by starting our meal delivery service. The goal of our meal delivery is to not only provide our customers with nourishing meals that support their health but also to support local farmers and agriculture. We are so grateful for the amazing feedback we’ve had thus far and look forward to opening the farm stand as soon as possible. 

What opportunity came from an unlikely source? 

Along with opening our farm stand, a huge goal in 2019 was to grow our catering business. Through a friend and fellow lady entrepreneur, we got the opportunity to make a great connection and cater for a group of 30+ for a weeklong event. This is just one example of the importance and the value of connection especially in our small community. It is so special to all work together to lift each other up. 

What keeps you going on the hardest days?

Each other definitely. Aside from being business partners, we’ve always been the best of friends and when one of us has an off day we lean on each other for support. 

Favorite food indulgence 

Maile- homemade pasta- just got a pasta maker in quarantine!

Marla- homemade chocolate chip cookies

Summer- fresh sourdough bread

What are you reading, listening to and/or watching right now?

Reading-  Summer & Marla- Perfect puppy in 7 days (just got 2 puppies :) ) Maile- Rachel Hollis- “Girl Stop Apologizing”, The Ultimate Sales Machine

Listening- Eckhart Tolle & Oprah’s Podcast “A New Earth”, How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz

Watching- Ugly Delicious  (Chef David Chang of Momofuku)

How has your business benefited from COVID restrictions?

Although COVID caused us to temporarily close our farm stand, it led to us creating our Nourish Hanalei meal delivery service. This has had its own benefits in being able to prepare food for an exact number, cutting down on food waste and being more efficient with our time. Also, through our service, we’ve been able to grow our customer base here on Kaua’i as we continue to share our love of food while our stand is closed

What does expansion look like?

We hope to grow our catering side of the business, hiring employees, expanding wholesale, apparel, and new menu items - maybe a cookbook! For now we are taking it one day at a time.  It's hard to know what the future holds business wise but personally we want to all be on Kauai with families of our own and as close as ever :)

What do you wish someone would have told you?

The only constant in life is change, roll with the punches and take each day in stride. This sums it up perfectly:

What do you love most about this business?

The Nourish community that we’ve built has been one of the greatest things to witness flourish over the past year. Not only just our amazing customers but working together with other local businesses to uplift one another has been so special. We are all in it together.

Thank you so much Maile, Marla and Summer for sharing your journey as entrepreneurs.

Wishing you the very best as you enter year 2 of your business. Check out their current meal delivery service HERE. Or follow their IG to be inspired by their lovely offerings HERE 

photos by Ikaika Pidot

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