An interview with Maui Business Owner, Keani Barnes

Sep 25, 2023

When a major tragedy strikes, businesses and personal lives are affected in countless ways. Some effects are easy to see, some are less obvious. But all are important. And all need and deserve to be lovingly and compassionately addressed.

A personal friend and client of mine, Keani Barnes, is part of the Maui community recently devastated by fires. As a boutique business owner, I wanted to have her on the show to share what’s been happening there and what the aftermath journey has been like.

“Somehow this decision was made by all different people to say, you know, ‘Get out of here’ and ‘Don’t come here’. And that was not at all, I mean what the vast majority of the Maui community was saying... We appreciate that people want to be sensitive… But it was so frustrating for us knowing, like, this is how people pay their bills… To have all of that go away ended up being this double whammy of grief that hit our island.” – Keani Barnes

What You’ll Learn

  • Widespread impact of the Maui fires
  • Double whammy of grief
  • New open doors and open minds
  • Be a beacon
  • Solutions and momentum for healing
  • Personal agency

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

Connect with Keani Barnes

With her humble beginnings as a casual jewelry maker, Keani Barnes has grown her business from a home office to two retail boutiques and online store on Maui, offering her signature jewelry designs as well as other curated niche finds. Mahalo for being a part of her story and the success of our all female-operated small business team!

Instagram  ||  @keanihawaii  ||  Facebook 

Connect with Kris Plachy

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Email: [email protected]






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Kris Plachy: Okay. Welcome, welcome to this week of the podcast. This is Leadership is Feminine. I'm Kris Plachy and I'm super, super happy to share with you that I have a guest, a host. You're the host this week, Keani. I have a guest this week, Keani Barnes, and Keani is a client of mine who also owns a beautiful business on Maui.

And when the Maui fires happened several weeks ago, I was very concerned about her personally. And then as we sort of kept chatting, I just wanted to be able to feature Keani, feature her business, and have her share her experience and the experience that she's had to navigate over the last several weeks - month, now. We just realized on this call today - of how she's working through the challenges of having a retail business on an island that has gone through a major tragedy.

And so, hi.

Keani Barnes: Hello. Aloha.

Kris Plachy: Aloha. We were just joking that maybe you should be wearing your coconut outfit and your grass skirt.

Keani Barnes: That's what we do in Hawaii.

Kris Plachy: That's all they do there.

Keani Barnes: Coconut bras, grass skirts.

Kris Plachy: Not true. Welcome Keani. Okay. So Keani, why don't you, because you do it way better than I do, tell everyone who you are and about your beautiful business and about who you are beautifully in the world. Because you are-

Keani Barnes: Okay, wow. So my name is Keani Lea Barnes. I was born on the Big Island and raised on Maui. So I have lived in Hawaii almost my entire life. My dad did go to school on the mainland for four years, so I did spend four years off island, but otherwise have lived in Hawaii my whole life as a child. I did go to college on the mainland and I say that because a lot of people don't leave Hawaii for school.

I think there's a huge value when you leave and you feel the rat race of the mainland and you realize that you don't have this, that small town connection that's going to do it all for you. You realize, Oh boy, I got to get going. Everybody be building their resume. I was already a really motivated child who wanted to get the A in school and in life. But when I went to the mainland for college, I really realized like, Wow, there's so many amazing people, so much amazing talent. And it was humbling.

I came back to Maui, was able to marry one of my high school friends who became my sweetheart in college. And we got married and came back to Hawaii, and I knew that one day I wanted to be - after, you know, five to 10 years - I wanted to be a stay at home mom.

And then when that actually happened, when I was around 30 years old, I was definitely stunned at how hard it was to be home. And when you've been working 40 to 60 hours a week, it was very hard to just be changing diapers and vacuuming and all the things, all the hard work that goes with staying home. But feeling like I had lost a sense of like my giftings, my creativity and like, who I was other than just a mother to my child.

At around when she was one years old, I started looking for some sort of part time job. I could tell I just needed some ability to express myself, still, and my giftings. And of course, I did find it would have helped financially, but we were okay to just live on a really tight budget on just my husband's income. But that was a great opportunity for me to not do something out of like, well, what does it pay?

I had the opportunity to launch a business based off of like, well, I don't have to make money, but what would be fun? What would nurture like, my creativity? You know, limitations create opportunities and that limitation of like, well, I can't work full time. You know, and I need to make X amount of dollars, and salary. It changed the way I thought about working and starting something.

And so I started making jewelry. I love jewelry. And it was again, something I could just ease into and it was before Etsy was blowing up and whatnot. And so I was able to create a website and start selling shell jewelry and pearl jewelry here on Maui. And then Etsy started to really gain steam. And I decided there was no way I was going to make a name for myself in jewelry if I didn't learn how to make things that nobody else could make.

So I started researching and researching how to cast jewelry. And I really started just with drawing on myself. I loved the scales and I loved tattoos that had scales, but I didn't want to actually tattoo myself with all them scales. So it's like, you know, no one really has done like scales and jewelry. And I love that it has that it ties to a lot of Hawaiian tattoos as well, ocean, fish, mermaids, all of those vibes.

And so in time, I just Googled my way into becoming a jewelry designer. I made all the phone calls.

Kris Plachy: I love that phrase. "I Googled my way into becoming a jewelry designer." That's awesome.

Keani Barnes: Googled it. And I literally have never met my manufacturers. Nothing. It's just phone calls and years of relationships. , no one told me that that was wrong. So I just got it done. And people started to contact me for wholesale because I had something that no one else had. Because there's a lot of artisans here in Hawaii. There's a lot of artisans around the world that make jewelry.

But my line became its own intellectual property and it started to gain its own traction. So the orders started to come in slowly and again, more and more and wholesale. And all of a sudden I was working as soon as my husband got home. It's like, "Here's the kids! Bye!" and I did that for six years at home. It got so busy at one point that I hired two employees to work out of my house.

And at year seven, I finally was like, we got, we can't do this. I can't have people working at my house. And I opened my first store. And then in the seven years since then, which is a total of 13 years. I opened three stores in seven years, and I'm crazy.

Kris Plachy: And also expanded from jewelry as well, right, with those stores?

Keani Barnes: Yeah. Right. So the business has had some iterations, and I think that's a big part of success as a business. I'm going to tag that in there. I think one reason I've stayed successful, while knowing my opportunities for growth, is it's just always about listening to the customer. It's always about making sure you're also excited about your business, which you know, Kris. And yet, still staying humble enough to curb your enthusiasm by what is actually feeding you what is actually going well in your business.

And so I did incorporate clothing and accessories into my what I offer in my stores. So around two years in, I noticed just that even though people love my jewelry, a lot of people don't think they wear jewelry. They're just like, "I'm not a jewelry person". And just the amount of people that would come in based on it being a jewelry store was so much lower. And then once I incorporated the clothing - which I curate, I don't design the clothing, but I get to curate and buy uniquely. So many more women come in and then all of a sudden they would still buy jewelry.

And so, yeah, 13 years in, three stores. But with what happened on Maui, yeah, it did shut down my primary store that brings in two thirds of my income. And so that created some unique challenges and- should I dive in our,

Kris Plachy: Yeah, so, let's talk a little bit about that. So first of all, it's such a beautiful story. I think one that so many women share, which is, I thought I wanted my life to look like this. And then it didn't feel like I thought it would. Right?

It's interesting because I had a very similar story. Not that we did the same work, but I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I tell people that now, and they think that's really funny. And I did it for a year with my first son. And my husband, one day he came home and we were transitioning. We had bought a new house to get into a, like a different area. We'd left the Bay area, moved east, so that we could get a better house for less money, so that I didn't have to work.

And he came home, because we were living in an apartment waiting for this house, and I was taking care of 1 year old and 2 Labrador retrievers in an apartment all day alone. It's not going well. And so he said, "You know what Ben needs?" Ben is our son. "Like, Ben needs a happy mommy. So if it will make you happy to go back to work, maybe you should go back to work."

And I was like, "Oh, this is such good news."

And it's so interesting. Cause that was the trajectory. It was good to have happy mommies. Mad mommies, overwhelmed mommies, don't make great mommies, all the time anyway. But I think it's great to be able to pivot and to obviously have partners who support that too, which is really important too, I think.

And then, that organic growth is another thing that we hear a lot of, right? "I just followed my joy." "I enjoyed it." And then it sort of fed itself, to the point that now you have this enterprise that not only is there for the clients, but also for the people that you hire.

So here we are, now. A month ago this massive fire completely engulfs Lahaina and a couple other parts of Maui, as I understand. So why don't you just tell us what happened, what happened to your stores, and what was the impact of that to your business and to the people that you know. It's a big question.

Keani Barnes: Yeah. So the first fires broke out in Kula, Maui, and I actually got an evacuation notice. I woke up to an evacuation notice at three in the morning that I need to evacuate my house. And I was just like, whoa, and my whole house smelled like smoke. That was the beginning of like, Maui's on fire. Um, it started in that area.

It was breaking out in Kula and Olinda, which are relatively close to each other.And between those two areas, 1200 acres burned kind of across the highway. That area was burning near my house. And so it was smoky skies. And yet I looked out and didn't see neighbors evacuating, so I was like, I don't know what to do. So it was a long night.

There was a very huge lack of communication from our state and the government. I was thankful I at least got a notification on my phone. However, as an island community, we kind of would like to know if another part of our island is on fire. Because we all have family and friends. We're all very connected.

So, I was still trying to recover from like, okay, my house almost burned. I think this fire is contained. Which it wasn't yet. And then I had people who needed to go to work the next day and there was these crazy winds. And so I was having to make those boss decisions about like, okay, do we close? Do we stay open? Like those kinds of decisions. Because, again, I have a store in Kaanapali, which is just past Lahaina.

It was just such a whirlwind of a day talking to my employees going, "Oh my gosh, Lahaina is gone. It's like- the whole thing."

And I'm like, "What?"

And it was just surreal. Because not only did a city burn, it was like, there was no alarm. We didn't even see some of our leaders - and I won't name any names - for like a week, two weeks. It just was, you just want some ownership taken by your leaders.

But anyway, either way, I needed to be a leader, right? Either way I had to be a leader and that involved, as I was saying to you, communicating with my team, still taking ownership for what it is that I had to make decisions about. I still control people's income, and whether or not they're going to work, and what kind of response I'm going to have and all of that, and then having to make the tough decisions to close, who's going to still work, what store is going to still stay open.

So, for me, the events, the workload got much more intense while two thirds of my income proverbially burned away. And so-

Kris Plachy: the problem was that your, your Kaanapali your Whalers Village store, nobody could get to, right? Is that what the issue was after the fire? So it didn't burn. But the way to get to it, it was all completely road completely blocked. Is that right? That's what my understanding.

Keani Barnes: Sorry. I might not be telling. So that's okay.

Kris Plachy: I just wanted to- because I think, there's just been a lot of attention on the village of Lahaina burning. Which is, of course, terrible and awful. And also the implications of what that meant, beyond that, yes, there's a lot of places that didn't burn. But because of the nature of the island and the roads and how all of it has been managed, there's been a huge impact on the economy of the island in general. Not just the stores that were affected by the fire immediately.

And I think a lot of people don't think about that, who aren't around it, right? They just think, oh, boy, that's- Lahaina, that's awful. Or, right, but it's much more significant because there's been such an impact across the board. So.

Keani Barnes: Exactly. So, Lahaina did burn, but there's only one way in and out to the west side of Maui.

There's actually a back way, through Kākāloa, but it's much more challenging and sketchy roads. So, they started to say, "Okay, all of the west side of Maui is closed." So I did wonder if my own store or Whalers Village was going to burn. By the way, my store is called Keani Hawaii. I realized I did not say that.

Kris Plachy: There you go. Keani Hawaii. There we go.

Keani Barnes: Keani Hawaii. Yes.

Kris Plachy: Hard to forget. That's good.

Keani Barnes: And our website is

I didn't know if that store was going to burn. But then even when it didn't, you feel thankful, but you feel sorrow and you feel a measure of that survivor guilt as well. Because you at least have a home. Your business didn't burn. And yet, you still feel terrible laying people off. You still feel terrible saying, like, the whole West side is closed right now. Literally, they're telling everybody to stay away.

And there was a lot of mishandling of messaging that happened at that time. And that's It's really important for everybody to hear that's listening to this.

And I understand everybody that did stayed away from Maui was trying to be respectful.

Kris Plachy: So let's talk about that really quick. So after the fire, there was a huge campaign that appeared that was spontaneous, as far as we can gather, to stay away from Maui. Don't come to Maui. And almost out of regard for those of you who live there. The locals, right? Don't come. Because they need to do the work of being together and heal and recover. And there were celebrities that were involved with that.

I actually noticed, because I fly to Hawaii frequently, on Hawaiian airlines they had a banner that said, I think it was both Hawaiian and Southwest. "We're currently not booking flights to Maui at the time." So it was a pretty broad impact, right? So, okay, I just wanted to share that. That's, that was... And then there were some celebrities

Keani Barnes: It was mind blowing. It was honestly shocking. I mean, for the fact that we didn't have a lot of communication from our leaders or all these different things. Somehow this decision was made by all different people to say, "Get out of here." And, "Don't come here." And like, that was not at all-

I mean, what the vast majority of the Maui community was saying. You know, it was very frustrating for us to have someone on the mainland, including celebrities, or even people from O'ahu, speaking for us.

That messaging hit and people stopped booking their trips. And like, we appreciate that people wanted to be sensitive. And that's where I don't shame anybody that has canceled their trips or anything like that. I understand they're just trying to do what they were told. But it was so frustrating for us knowing that this is how people pay their bills. It's the restaurants they work at. The hotels. The surf lessons. All those things.

And to have all of that go away ended up being this double whammy of grief that hit our island because now Lahaina burned 1200 acres in a country burned. And now I don't have a job. And on unemployment, you're going to get what, 50, 60 percent of your income, if that. And that takes time. That that takes time. And so all of a sudden we were like reeling in a whole other way.

I did put out the messaging on my business Instagram to say like, "Hey, you know, we are still trying to survive and we can't heal if we're broke. We can't heal if we lose our jobs and our businesses. So, please still come and support us." And yet we have been able to say, "Come with respect, come and if you would like to volunteer, if you would like to donate. You know, there's different places you could get involved."

And I think that's a beautiful thing that we can always look for is the good that's coming out of it and I feel like we've had a lot of visitors in the last few weeks that are like, "Okay. When I come, we're going to volunteer at this. And we're going to hand out water. And we're going to..."

And so it feels like this is an opportunity to also change the way tourists think about Maui in a different way. We're not just a place that you come and vacation and get what you want. It's like, come and recognize that this is a beautiful community that still wants love in a different way and respect. And if you have something to give, thank you.

When you come eat at our restaurant, when you come shop at our store, thank you so much. That's an act of love and giving to us more than you realize.

Kris Plachy: That's so beautifully said. I think, you know, for those of you who maybe haven't been to Hawaii in general, most of the businesses in Hawaii are locally owned. They're artisans, they're people who had a dream and they wanted to stay where they grew up and they built, they put something there. And so I would say the same. You know, when I, I'll be back on Oahu in a couple of weeks for my retreat and I do everything I can to buy everything locally, right?

Like even my fruit, I just go to the fruit stand. Don't go to the food land. I poke from Joyce, who has a truck on the street, right? So I just think, just remember that it's just important for us to remember that when we come, yes, it's about tourism. But at the same time, we can be thoughtful, even as we visit, where we spend our time and how we contribute back.

And if you're staying in a really big, beautiful hotel, that's lovely. You know, take a drive. and go to a lot of the local little shops. Because when you support a local artisan and retail shop like Keani's, not right now, but she has a team of 18, 20 people when her business is thriving. And her ability to take care of those people so they can take care of their lives, that's how this works.

And I know entrepreneurs understand that more than anyone. So that seems to have sort of been righted, but it takes a while then to get it all filled back up, right?

Keani Barnes: There's a little uptick, and people coming back. That messaging is starting to get through. I've had people send me messages and comments after I took a stand, just saying, you know, like, "We still, you know, these parts of the island are open. Please come." I know there's opposing voices, but please only listen to people who live here. Please, please only listen to people who are actually a part of this community.

An opportunity from this is, I was saying, is just to change the way you visit a place. You can have a very commercial touristy experience if that's what you want, but you can also have a beautiful tourist experience that's about experiencing the community on a deeper level than like what you see in the luau, you know, because you see native Hawaiians and other mixtures of people dancing at a luau and you think, "Oh, that's cultural."

But there's also the culture of the people who live here and now. And when you get to talk to them at a food truck or talk to them in a store and you get to know them a little bit better. People do want to love on you and do love being seen in a different way.

And so my employees love that. They have grown to love all of our visitors that come to our store. We do what we can to, cause we stay super connected. And so it's a really great opportunity for us to reengage with the guests that come here and find a new way to connect on a deeper level.

Kris Plachy: I love it. That's good. Good message.

Okay. So you made a decision that the business had to lay off a significant percentage of your people for now, right? That was sort of the initial impact. Because you had to be closed and you didn't have any foot traffic.

Keani Barnes: Yeah, had to close the Whalers Village store because the whole west side was blocked off and people were saying stay away. And so I've had to really shift in looking at marketing and making the online store the focus and thinking of an online guest as like strictly my customer each day. And so it's been challenging. It highlights a whole new set of things that I need to do better.

However, I'm really proud of how far it's come. I'm proud that our sales last month online were the highest ever. But it also comes from people wanting to support us online, which has been really beautiful. And now I have that momentum though, to keep it going. And I'm certainly exploring every avenue.

We've talked about this, but like, out of all of this that's happened, what opportunity do we have? Right. And I love how, in a way, tragedy- this sounds bad in like, cause in a way tragedies, close doors that you just relied on always being open, right? And suddenly those doors just aren't there. And you see other things that you just would not have seen. And in a small little analogy, like some people that have always lived on the west side are now live in Haiku and Kihei and all these other places. And one of the families I know who lost their home was like, "I'm kind of liking that I'm living in Haiku right now. Like this is- I would have never lived in haiku."

And it's just that similar analogy of like, okay, so this is what I've been doing and it's been working, but is it sustainable? Or did I limit myself? Did I limit myself?

Kris Plachy: Comfortable?

Keani Barnes: Did I get comfortable, when I could have been doing this or I could have been more successful at this?

So I'm looking at new business ideas, not only just growing my online store, but I'm looking at other ways that I can- because again, it opened my mind to, you know, what else can I create? How else could I also give back to this community? So I'm looking at different ideas. And all of that came out of the tragedy, right?

Kris Plachy: Yes. And I want to add, I want to add to that because I think- I just saw something this morning that was rather timely and I wish I could give credit to it. So, whoever said this, I apologize. I saw it on the 'grams and now I don't remember who it was. But it was an interview with a gentleman who's a neuroscientist and he was interviewing someone and he asked the question, what do we really know helps people be happy or live a happy life?

And the gentleman that he was interviewing said, out of all the people that we've studied and interviewed and learned from, what we found is two things. Gratitude and agency. And we've done the COVID thing, right? You and I started working together right out of COVID. We've all been through the rapid change that was required of us, regardless of the type of business that we had, in that moment.

And then this, of course, came out of left field. But I know that all of us encounter unexpected moments, as business owners, and as people in general. And what I loved about what he said, because I've watched this in my clients as well, is watching people say, okay, that was not great. And also, I'm okay. My life is okay.

We seek and we look for what is okay. What can we have gratitude for? And secondly, where do we have agency? And that's what I hear you saying. Which is, you know what? I have so much more ability to be able to deliver what I do in the world than maybe I was even giving myself credit for. Or maybe I was even inviting myself to the potential for, that seeing that is that you have a locus of control there. You have agency.

Because we talked a little bit in our pre interview, right? That that's one of the more frustrating things to observe generally in anyone, is staying helpless and staying a victim. Like, bad things happen. Suffering is optional. And we get to choose. And we may not like any of the choices, but in leadership, and you said three really great things in our pre-interview that you realized about what was required of you as a leader.

Do you want to talk about what those were?

Keani Barnes: Yeah, I might have mentioned them a little bit briefly, but I think leaders are always called to communicate, to take ownership. Because there's always something that we can own - back to agency - right. And then decision making. These are the things that most immature adults want to avoid. Just, in general. This is what we teach kids is involved in adulting.

And you don't want to always make a decision. You don't, you know, you want to avoid-

Kris Plachy: You don't like all the decisions. Like there's four potential options and I don't like any of them.

Keani Barnes: Exactly. And shucks, you got to decide anyway.

Kris Plachy: Yeah.

Keani Barnes: And I think that-

Kris Plachy: Did you just say shucks?

Keani Barnes: I did. I kept it very PG.

Kris Plachy: That's awesome. Okay. Sorry. Back to our regular programming.

Keani Barnes: So I just know that for me, of course, this happened to my business, to my community. But I still had to communicate, as a leader, with my team and own how this was going to impact them, myself, in the next few weeks. And sometimes that's also owning. "I don't know." And saying, "This is what's going on. I own it. This is challenging. I'm grieving with you. And yet, I'm going to have to make some tough decisions. These are some of the decisions.

"Like, the Lahaina is closed right now. I, you know, but I have to still align with that decision and unfortunately, lay you off at this time.

"However, This is where I'm looking to pivot and these are the decisions I'm going to be making to get us back on our feet."

And like you said, suffering is optional. I was telling one of my employees, because we often mentor our teams, I was like, who is hitting the fan? Using the right words for that. I was hitting the fan all the time. It is hitting the fan all day long. It is happening. But maturity is when you can walk right through it and you just hang it off and you keep it moving. Because you got to accept that suffering is optional, right? I can leave it on me and cry about it, or I can just get it off of me and move on.

This isn't happening to you. This is happening for you. And I, when I made a decision that this was happening for me and I could think of it that way, it changed everything because I can be better out of this. And that's a beautiful thing.

And all of my employees can be better out of this. And if I believe it, right, as you always say, we're the most important asset and it starts with me. And if I have that mentality, then I can give that. I can't give what I don't know.

Kris Plachy: So well said. Yeah. They need beacons. They don't need people to go and complain with. And we can be that person without dishonoring the tragedy. But I think the problem is people think that they have to stay in the muck to honor the tragedy and honor the people who maybe were more gravely impacted. And they were. There were people who died. This is a really awful tragedy.

But it doesn't serve them for everyone to sit around and feel awful about it. What serves those people who were tragically affected is to lift the community up and to be a part of the solution and be a part of growth. That's what I will always believe. I will always believe that. So I know some people won't and that's okay. But I think for you, as a woman who's leading her own business, who also touches the lives of so many other people, it's vital. They need you.

Keani Barnes: And there is a sensitive time to, you know, like I said, to own the, "I don't knows" and to feel the feelings. But leaders have to be those beacons of light. Leaders have to, that's what makes you a leader.

And I think what's beautiful is anyone can lead. It's not under a leadership title. You know, you can still be that, that solutions-focused person in your family. And at the end of the day, like, solutions are what heal us too. So there's again, just a lot of good things that are coming out of this. There's still so much pain and tragedy.

And so it's important that you like give something its moment and it's time and then you decide when it doesn't have the same impact or the same weight. But sometimes those are decisions you have to make. You decide it. You don't always feel it. You decide it.

Kris Plachy: Wow. That was really well said.

I think that's really true. I think a lot of times people are waiting to feel like it's going to feel better and it's not. It's going to always be an awful thing. And for a lot of people, it will take years to recover, but that pace of recovery has everything to do now with the support that you have around you and the decisions that you make every day.

So, it's really well said. So you're about to reopen your Whalers Village store, so let's talk about that.

Keani Barnes: Yeah, so I, there was so many cancellations going into 2024. I mean, it was, it was a lot. We really had no idea it would take four months to open the west side. I spoke with you a month ago. Just like, "Uh, you know, this could be really bad."

And, um-

Kris Plachy: Yeah, because when you say cancellations, people were canceling their vacations. They were canceling their hotel rooms. They were canceling their AirB&B

Keani Barnes: Everything. We're talking every cruise, every hotel, and we're talking, not even staying on the west side. So I had a guest, you know, saying "We were going to stay in Kihei and Hana in February of 2024, but we decided to cancel because of the fires."

And I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that's like, six months from now, and not even in on the west side."

You know? So it's just interesting how that spun out for people and how they interpreted that.

Kris Plachy: Well, it's kind of like saying, ‘Oh, San Francisco's had a fire. I better not go to LA.’

Keani Barnes: Yeah, that's the equivalent for us.

Kris Plachy: Like that, you know, I- understandable, especially if the entire state of California is saying, "Don't come here", like the people that you hear, but they're far apart.

Keani Barnes: Yeah. So that messaging is slowly getting out there. Even a particular celebrity who said "Don't come here," also posted on his Instagram. One of the videos that has been cycling through saying, "Hey, Maui is open. Just the west side is closed." So I'm glad he's editing some of what he's put out there and using his following for that.

You know, the good news is that people have come to my Paia store and said, what is Whalers opening again? And, um, it's still very, very slow there. But at the same time, I'm committed to getting my team back to work and being a part of the momentum of us healing. The momentum of us opening. And so there's only like five stores open in Whalers Village right now and I will be one of them, or the sixth, starting this Sunday.

And so I'm excited about it in a very weird way because it's going to be so slow, but I feel like at the same time the people that are coming are like, "Hi, we're visiting and we're here to shop local."

My employees are so excited to work together again. They just love each other. I am so happy about the culture, the company culture, that I've facilitated. And they're just so giddy to be together again.

And now I am still launching another store in Wylea, but it's been nice because that pace has slowed down and I'm still excited about it. I know 2024 is going to be good. That's where my mind is, you know. 2024 is going to be great. And I'm, I'm so thankful that the downturn isn't as long as it could have been. Like, Lahaina is down. I don't want to take away from that. I'm not trying to be insensitive in any way.

But it goes back to, there's absolutely nothing I can do to put it back together. And back to agency, like, a lot of times we want our politicians to do this, or someone to do that. But at the end of the day, I can't make any of that happen. And it's so important that I first start off with, what can I do?

Kris Plachy: By you opening your stores back up, you can help directly, the team members that you bring back and pay their salary. Like, and we can't underestimate the value of that. I think a lot of people don't think about the impact that that has, and I don't ever want us to be minimizing of that.

There's a grand group, big things that need to be fixed. And also we need everybody who's living on that island needs a gainful employment so they can take care of themselves and their lives.

So I think the faster that is able to happen for you, it does. It helps the entire- so if those five or six stores in Whalers Village are opening, that's good news. Everybody should be going there.

Keani Barnes: And it shifts the energy within your family. It shifts the energy within your community. Like that one person going back to work has its ripple effect. Like you said, sometimes I do feel like, "Well, am I making that big of an impact? I only have this many employees. I'm only impacting this many people."

So, you know, one business at a time, one employer at a time, one employee at a time, there's good things that are coming, you know? And I'm thankful for this opportunity. Thankful for all of you who come and visit Maui. Again, we do welcome you. We understand the confusion and we also just look forward to extra rich, meaningful visits in the future.

If you do want to support my business and my store, it started off as and then when I opened my physical store as I changed it to so that you can just know that it was a locally based business rooted in Hawaii and I wanted the freedom to sell more than just jewelry.

And so is how you can support us online, which does support all local jobs and is helping to keep us afloat here on Maui. We are in a downturn. And again, we have beautiful clothing and jewelry. Then our store in Paia, it has been open this full time in Paia, Maui, and then Whaler's Village in Kaanapali, Maui, will be opening on Sunday, and then, um, the new store in Shops of Waialea will open probably December or January.

Kris Plachy: That's exciting. I know that's a really big deal. So congratulations on that too. So

Keani Barnes: Thank you.

Yes. It's been wonderful to have you on this podcast. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving everyone- and you have a beautiful Instagram as well. Can you tell everybody where to go to follow you online, your business?

Keani Barnes: It’s @KeaniHawaii on Instagram. Um, it's nice, of course, to see all the fun reels and the visuals that way. Makes things come a little bit more alive. You can follow us on Facebook. We are not super active on TikTok at the moment. So mostly Instagram and Facebook, and then, if you sign up for emails and texts, you will, of course, get other promotions, sales, et cetera.

Kris Plachy: Perfect. Yes. Love it. Well, thank you. Thank you. And aloha.

Keani Barnes: Aloha. And thank you so much.

Kris Plachy: My pleasure, love. I'll talk with you guys.

I'll talk with you soon. And I'll talk with all y'all listeners soon, also. Okay. Take care.

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