One of our favorite ways businesses can contribute to the planet is by using found materials, recycling, or upcycling typically discarded materials into new items of value. That is exactly what Maki, owner of Leinai'a does! We asked her some questions to learn a bit about her business and inspiration.
How long have you been creating jewelry? Over 10 years
Where did you first get the idea to do jewelry from microplastic? I thought that throwing away the collected trash again from the beach would not reduce the amount of trash, and I thought that it could be reused for new things. I am a jewelry designer, so by reborn as beautiful jewelry, I hope many people to use it again. I hope it will give people an opportunity to think about the microplastic problem.
Do you desire to provide education to your customers about environmental issues? I always tell my customers about microplastics and show them how I reuse those plastics into jewelry.
How can your customers get more involved in decreasing their environmental impact? When people donate microplastics to me that they collected from the beach, I can make them jewelry out of using it.
What have been your greatest struggles as a small business? There are no tourists from Japan who have been visiting a lot before the pandemic. (much of Oahu's economy has historically been dependent on Japanese Tourism)
Where did the idea for your flowers in resin pieces come from? In Hawaii, I often see beautiful flowers that have fallen to the ground, and I always pick them up and decorate my hair. However, it quickly withers, so I researched if there was a way to store it forever, and I made flower jewelry.
What’s your proudest moment as a small sustainable business? Many customers have thought about starting cleaning the beach after seeing my microplastic jewelry and trying to reuse it in the same way.
What are your goals in the next 5, 10 years? I want to make an art show using microplastics and also want to have a craft class using microplastics!