Maile, owner of 'Ulu and Kalo, a Honolulu- based bakery thinks yes!
Mailo started her business in 2018 because she wanted "to provide healthier baked goods to the community while using canoe plants ('ulu and kalo) in the products."
For those who are unfamiliar with the term "canoe plants" it refers to the small number of plants originally brought over in canoes by the Polynesian navigators to serve as the foundation of their societal needs. Some of the other canoe plants include noni, which you have probably seen growing on many trees, and kukui, which is often seen in oil form. (learn more from Hawaii Public Radio here)
In addition to holding cultural and historial significance to the Hawaiian community, 'ulu and kalo are nutrient-dense and naturally gluten-free. 'Ulu, also known as breadfruit, is naturally gluten free and yet can be used as a base for many sweet and savory dishes based upon the plant's ripeness, or eaten on its own. Kalo is high in many vitamins, fiber, and iron; additionally, all parts of the plant, including the leaves, are edible and considered staple foods of the Hawaiians.
Over the years, Maile has added additional products and tweaked a few of her recipes based upon taste and availability of ingredients- but they maintain the original base. When she began, both vegan and non-vegan options were available. However, there was such a demand for vegan baked goods and so little competition, she jumped at the opportunity to commit to and brand herself as a vegan + gluten free bakery.
PlanIt is all about big upping our clients and trying to help them solve problems quite literally, or at the very least, talking them out. We were big fans of Maile and her baked goods for quite some time before we began working together and the love for her products has only grown as we have tried more products and learned more about her recipes and process.
As of now, we have worked with Maile to capture photos, coach her in techniques for filming reels, and provided insight into SEO and digital marketing techniques. Maile works solo and works HARD as an entrepreneur, so we asked her a few questions:
Did you always love baking/cooking or where did this come from. I seem to remember you saying your parents were dentists?
"Lol yea you remembered correctly, my parents are in the dental field and growing up around that didn’t really appeal to me. Cooking came to me after I changed how I ate and saw the difference in my own health. Changing my diet to a healthier one inspired me to attend KCC for culinary school so that I could learn how to cook well. I realized baking was more my speed after working in the industry."
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
"The greatest lesson entrepreneurship has taught me is self-worth."
What has been your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it?
"The biggest struggle was finding a the right kitchen to call a second home and luckily I found it last September with the coffee shop, Pō’ai. The next big challenge is getting a product retail ready which includes finding the right equipment, getting updated packaging, and shelf life testing."
If you could go make a tell yourself something from the get go, what would you say?
"Move at your own pace and envision how big you want the business to be."
What’s next for your business, or for you? Or both?!
"Hoping to get the 'ulu crackers to a larger market and retail ready! It would be nice to have less manual labor so I can exercise intentionally and not because of work lol."
Thank you Maile!!