The Pono Way Of Doing Business

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - October 15, 2008
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Maile and dad Merl Ferreira model Pono Wear T-shirts

The family entrepreneurial spirit carries on in the brother-and-sister team of Kalono and Maile Ferreira with their Pono Wear clothing line.

Pono Wear takes the history and stories of Hawaii the siblings grew up listening to and creates a design about it. The first item in their clothing line is T-shirts that reflect the spirit of being pono (doing the right thing).

The Queen Liliuokalani is the most popular T-shirt. The black tee showcases the queen’s letter of abdication on the front with Liliuokalani’s photo and a picture of Iolani Palace.

“She showed such a true spirit of pono,” says Maile Ferreira. “To give up her land, not because she believed that what they were doing was right or that she didn’t want to fight - she didn’t want her people hurt. It was a self-sacrifice: ‘Imprison me, do whatever you want, don’t hurt my people.‘Regardless of whether it was right or wrong, we don’t want to get into the political stuff. It raises the awareness. Its black color reflects the time of sadness and of sorrow.”

There are several designs available, and another popular T-shirt design is the crest, which features the American flag, the Hawaiian flag, a maile lei, a crown to represent Hawaiian royalty, a splintered paddle to represent Kamehameha, and a kalo leaf, which Ferreira says represents the foundation of the Hawaiian people.

Pono Wear also sells decals, and their creations are available at Na Mea Hawaii at Ward Warehouse. The company also showcases its merchandise at various shows around the Islands such as the MMA expo in June, the Prince Lot Hula Festival and the regatta scene. Their next show is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Season’s Best Craft Fair at Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall.

Dreams for the company’s future include a swimwear line, keiki clothes, backpacks, slippers and starting a scholarship fund for children.

The siblings grew up in their family air conditioning business, TSM Enterprises, started by their grandfather Merlyn, father Merl and their uncle BJ. Their mom, Carrylnn, also is in the family business. One of the most important lessons Ferreira learned from her family business is not to take work home.

“You have to separate work and family time or it’ll take over your life,” she says. “You’ll burn out. The work will still be there tomorrow. Take time to relax with your family.”

The Ferreiras both graduated from Kailua High School, although Kalono had some schooling at Kamehameha, and Maile also attended St. Francis High School. He comes up with the design ideas; she takes care of the details in event coordination and business administration. His background, besides working in the family business, includes working in sales and marketing. Hers includes accounting, oncology outreach and web design.

The siblings thank their friends and family for the support in the business, especially during these economically challenging times. “You can’t dwell on it,” says Maile. “The question is what are you going to do to make it better? It’s about us as a whole. If we do our little bit to help, we will be fine.”

For more information, call 848-0951 or log onto

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