A Splash Of Color
By Don Robbins
Founded by Shilpa Rathi, island HOLI at International Market Place in Waikiki fuses India’s Holi color festival with Hawaii’s island spirit. The shop features handmade, all-natural beach products and fashion that preserve ancient textile arts.
“Here at island HOLI one can immerse oneself in the natural wonder of our handmade items and celebrate with us this paradise that is our colorful island,” Rathi shared. A popular ancient Hindu festival from India heralding the coming of spring, Holi includes celebrations where people joyfully throw highly colored powders on each other. The company island HOLI is a lifestyle boutique showcasing the best of beachwear, clothing, home decor, jewelry and fashion accessories, Rathi said.
Each product is handcrafted and handmade with natural materials such as silk, linen, cotton or jute. “Since 2010, island HOLI has collaborated with master crafts artisans all over India to create beautiful all-natural handmade products that combine contemporary design with traditional artistry,” Rathi added.
She elaborated that island HOLI came to life in 2018 in Honolulu as a transformation of Rathi’s original store concept that began in Austin, Texas. The goal was to create a truly wonderful and unique experience by marrying the vibrant colors of India’s Holi festival and ancient Indian textile arts with the aloha spirit and island aesthetic.
“We serve a wide range of international customers, predominantly affluent women aged mid-20s to mid- 80s, who are generally well-travelled, eco-conscious trendsetters.” Rathi said island HOLI aims to preserve the ancient art of textiles — hand-sewing, hand-weaving, hand block printing and handembroidery. “Keeping all of our products handmade with 100 percent natural fabrics sets us apart in Waikiki, and in Hawaii,” Rathi emphasized. None of the items is mass-produced, and each style is in limited supply, which allows the company to keep all of its styles fresh and unique, she explained. Rathi noted that the company is a small family business which is managed and operated by the owners, which she described as a team of “two and a half” — Rathi, John Sullivan and their daughter Sienna. Although the company currently has no employees, Rathi said she has plans to hire in the future. The workplace culture at island HOLI is educational, fluent, respectful and hospitable, according to Rathi. “We serve customers from many different backgrounds and nationalities, and engaging customers from different cultures requires a certain understanding that not all possess. Language can often become a barrier and situations where communication is difficult require patience, understanding, and agility to engage and sell,” she explained.
According to Rathi, an ideal prospective employee for island HOLI is a stellar salesperson. Someone honest, responsible and well-traveled are important, she said. In addition, they should be fluent in English and Japanese, and perhaps other languages. Other desirable qualities are someone who thrives in a fast-paced environment, and is disciplined even when days are quiet. A great employee at island HOLI is also a person who takes pride in his or her work, and is a great communicator, Rathi emphasized.
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COMPANY: island HOLI
LOCATION: International Market Place, 2330 Kalakaua Ave., Ste. 176, Honolulu
PHONE: (844) 475-4654
FOUNDER: Shilpa Rathi
LAWRENCE TABUDLO PHOTOS