A Business That’s All About Family

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - August 29, 2007
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It’s all about taking care of families for the Kaupiko ohana. If you’re having a child, the Kaupikos know what you may need as their store’s goal is to provide things for babies.

Gaye Kaupiko inventoried, priced and displayed breast pumps, nursing tank tops and toys at her Kahala Kids store at Kahala Mall - that’s after she and her husband Brian packed lunch, organized the day, and carpooled their children to school.

Brian, a former sales manager, works in the store. With six employees, there can be enough hands on deck but sometimes you may find their children Skye, a Mid-Pac senior, and Reyn, a senior at the Naval Academy in Maryland, pitching in. The twins, Hunter and Tehani, who are first-graders at Star of the Sea School, may be volunteered to be the family’s focus testers for things the store stocks for families such as car seats, strollers and blankets.

Brian and Gaye Kaupiko, owners of Kahala Kids
Brian and Gaye Kaupiko, owners of Kahala Kids

“I have a good idea of what is popular and what parents are looking for because I listen to them,” says Gaye.

The store has a baby registry so friends and family of the new parents can get a gift the couple wants.

For ocean lovers, the boutique has aloha print beachwear including newborn wetsuits, hats, swim diapers and bikinis. There is even a series of onesies with phrases on the front such as “Born To Surf” or “Surfer In Training.“Also for babies, there are Teva and Reef brand slippers with straps. The emporium carries stuffed animals such as honus, dolphins and sharks. They also have the popular webkinz, which is a stuffed animal that keiki can use a special code to go online and have their animal interact with other animals.

The store can take orders for custom printing on onesies, T-shirts and tank tops, which take two days to complete.

For the pregnant mom, there are maternity jeans as well as stretch mark lotions.

When Kaupiko was pregnant with the twins, and running her business Local To Da Max at Pearlridge Center with a business partner, she noticed there wasn’t a store with baby items on the east side of the island, where her family lives in Hawaii Kai.

“I saw the potential for a store like this on this side of the island,” she says noting that her mom, Leimomi Maldonado, teaches hula upstairs at Kahala Mall with her halau Ka Hale I O Kahala.

She ran Local To Da Max at Pearlridge from 1995 to 2002. The Kahala Kids store, which started in 2001, has since moved to larger space in Kahala Mall in November 2006.

Another feature of the store is the work of professional photographer Greg Heller. He can be booked by appointment for a keiki portrait or for a family photo in his studio in the rear of the store. He uses island-themed props like a taro leaf or a turtle swimming in the ocean to compose the photo. Samples can be viewed at KahalaKidsPhoto.com.

Island Monkeez offers classes at the back of the store for newborns to toddlers.

One of the challenges the Kaupikos agree on is balancing family and business as they are actively involved with their children’s lives.

“It’s crazy but it’s fun,” says Brian, who also coaches the twins’ flag football team.

The family does their best to be organized as there will always be something going on in their lives.

Community service projects include offering discounts to customers who donate to the cause. Customers who brought in school supplies for a Helping Hands Hawaii project received 20 percent off of one item, and those who brought in a new children’s book for the Read To Me project got a 15 percent discount. In November, customers who bring canned goods to the store to give to the Hawaii Foodbank will be offered an incentive.

“We’re helping out kids and families,” he says.

Their future goals include making baby products for wholesale.

Kahala Kids is located at Kahala Mall. The hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 737-6200, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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