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Our Annual Roundup of the Most Philanthropic Creatives in the Islands

By Kai Andersen, Jill di Donato, Eliza Escano and IJfke Ridgley | October 21, 2019 | People

In our annual celebration of the arts and giving back, we have brought together our favorite creative figures and works of art to inspire you in a bold, new way.

True Beauty
Alice Kim of Hanalei Company and Elizabeth Mott helps women shine.


“There aren’t many opportunities like this on the island,” says Alice Kim of her Honolulu office, from which she runs a beauty empire. Kim helms two businesses—Hanalei Company, a skincare line that uses Hawaiian botanicals; and Elizabeth Mott, a Korean-inspired cosmetics company with an online cult following. Both enterprises encourage authenticity with initiatives like a Born Beautiful campaign that espouses inclusive and diverse aesthetics. “It’s important to make an impact and break tradition,” says Kim. Both of her companies employ interns from the University of Hawaii, offering young women a chance to grow with the company. “More than 90% of our office is female,” she says. The cosmetics queen also gives back through her partnership with Akamai Foundation, a nonprofit that mentors and provides job training to Hawaii’s socioeconomically disadvantaged youth. With a keen understanding of the past, Kim moves toward a future emboldened by beauty.

Photo by IJfke Ridgley

High Notes
Ohana Arts’ Laurie Rubin inspires on and off the stage.


Singer Laurie Rubin, though born blind, has defied expectations and embraced serendipitous circumstances. After a childhood punctuated by a fortuitous family friendship with Kenny Loggins, Rubin found her own voice—thanks in part to The Phantom of the Opera—going on to study classical voice at Oberlin. As a graduate student at Yale, the mezzo-soprano encountered O‘ahu native Jenny Taira, who would become a friend, creative collaborator and life partner. After trading New York for Honolulu in 2010, the pair joined forces with Taira’s sister, Cari, to found the nonprofit Ohana Arts, which inspires youth with its summer performing arts residencies at Kennedy Theatre. Since then, Rubin has also performed around the world, released a soulful debut album and even penned an acclaimed memoir. Though the couple is basking in their newborn Aiko’s presence, they aren’t slowing down. Ohana Arts’ summer 2020 enrollment opens this holiday season, and their ensemble PureLand will release an album in the coming year. “Nothing I’ve done yet has led to the end of an adventure,” says Rubin. “It is just the beginning, which I find so exciting.” Catch Rubin in concert with Chamber Music Hawaii at Paliku Theatre Feb. 17 and Doris Duke Theatre Feb. 24.

Photo by Jennifer Taira

In Full Bloom
Photographer Kristen Reyno brings Hawaiian quilts to life.


O‘ahu-raised Kristen Reyno started creating art out of a passion for photographing flowers, which blossomed into Lola Pilar Hawaii, an ode to her and her husband’s grandmothers. Reyno photographs tropical fruits and flowers in flat-lay compositions resembling Hawaiian quilts. She scours the island looking for the perfect ingredients: “I visit farmers markets, nurseries, Chinatown fruit stalls, and call around to friends and family to visit their yards for the specific flowers that inspire me,” says Reyno. Putting together these elements in the perfect symmetrical pattern can sometimes take up to five hours. The resulting colorful photos are the perfect accent to any tropical home, and now you can wear her chic designs as well. Inspired by Hermès and Ralph Lauren, Lola Pilar Hawaii prints are now available on luxurious silk scarves, something Reyno’s father always encouraged her to create. As she explains, they “can be worn around the neck, on your bag, in your hair or even hung as artwork themselves”—a tradition Reyno garners from her parents, who framed and hung Ralph Lauren scarves on the walls of their home while she was growing up.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Reyno

Model Citizen
Supermodel Keke Lindgard has a passion for healthy living—and her home state.


“Giving back is the best reward,” says international supermodel and O‘ahu native Keke Lindgard (@kekelindgard), who has walked the runway for Victoria’s Secret, Prada, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, to name a few. But for Lindgard, who splits her time between New York and O‘ahu, modeling isn’t just about fabulous style. With more than 80,000 Instagram followers, Lindgard uses her platform to “do good for Hawai‘i,” she says. From launching an anti-bullying initiative to “protect and teach our keiki” to running the blog Keke’s Network of Wellness Health, where she posts weekly updates, information and journals on all things wellness, the supermodel proves to be more than a pretty face. “I’m currently working toward a degree in nutrition sciences from the University of Hawai‘i,” she says, adding that mindful choices are key to health. When she’s in O‘ahu, find her at Raised by the Waves at the Kahuku Sugar Mill (which she calls “Hawaiian modern vintage with a supercool style”) or Haleiwa Bowls to replenish after a day in the surf.

Photo and styling by IJfke Ridgley; Makeup by Mariah Melanie

Poet Trees
The Merwin Conservancy nurtures literature and nature.


The sweet scent of budding blue ginger hangs in the air underneath a cathedral of glorious palm trees, vibrant tropical flora and sprawling vines. “We are entering a kind of poetry,” says Sara Tekula, director of programs for The Merwin Conservancy on the north shore of Maui. This 19 acres of stunning landscape, once rendered a wasteland after years of misuse and neglect, was painstakingly transformed over 40 years of planting one tree at a time by W. S. Merwin, the 17th U.S. poet laureate and Haiku resident who passed away in March, leaving behind a lush legacy both in the realms of literature and his own slice of paradise. The garden—a sanctuary to more than 2,700 palm trees and more than 400 species—served, along with the island of Maui, as a muse to Merwin’s more recent body of work: The Green Room, a speaker series on arts and ecology. In December, the Conservancy will welcome former U.S. poet laureate Robert Hass and Forrest Gander, who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for poetry; while Joy Harjo, the current U.S. poet laureate, will be the honored guest in January 2020.

Photo by Larry Cameron

From the Ground Up
Pure Mana’s products are as good for the Earth as they are for the skin.


The word sustainable gets thrown around a lot these days, but the skincare gurus behind Pure Mana take it seriously. “It’s a lifestyle for us,” says Sue Mandini, who, along with partner Kollette Stith, founded the clean beauty luxury skincare line made from farm-raised cosmetic-grade ingredients and organic botanicals. For the dynamic duo, who call themselves “stewards of the land,” giving back to the Earth is the secret behind superior skincare. “After a harvest, we nourish the soil for the next crop,” says Mandini. Their constant cycle of sustainable farming reflects a zero-waste mantra that guides Pure Mana’s “give more than take” ethos, plus supports small farms in Hawaii and beyond. And the pure ingredients in their handpressed oils produce powerful, radiant results. “We use raw nuts, and they’re really good,” Mandini says. We love the Soul serum ($138), a blend of macadamia, Kona coffee, rosehip and tuberose that helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles—skin food for graceful aging.

Photo by Lesley Gourley

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