MEET THE ENTREPRENEUR: RACHAEL LEINA'ALA
Say Aloha to the brilliant mind behind Aloha bags! Rachael Leina'ala is a California native with strong Hawaiian roots. She draws from her background and love for travel to create beautiful yet practical bags that can be used in the daytime to store wet bikinis and at night as a clutch. Delve into the creative business mind of Rachael down below!
What makes you a creative adventurer?
I think “creative adventurer” means something different to everyone. For me it includes figuring out ways to go places in the spur of the moment with limited resources. It is being able to solve the problem of traveling with little in your pocket. It is living in the moment. It is having a positive attitude, an excitement for life, and an expectation for the best.
How has your Hawaiian background inspired your brand?
It’s interesting. When my business partner and I decided on a name for our company, we wanted something that would reflect the both of us. We are both of Hawaiian descent, and Heather grew up on Kauai. I thought if we are going to make a product, we should not only solve people’s packing problems, but spread ALOHA. Hawaii is one of the most alluring places in the world and it’s hard not to be influenced by its magic. I dream of warm sand, turquoise water, and palm trees swaying in the wind.
We'd love to know how you got started.
Working as a flight attendant, I’ve always had a slight bag and packing obsession. My other obsession is the ocean. Because I’m traveling constantly, I always have a wet bikini with me. The best option I could find was a zip lock bag. That’s when the idea for ALOHA Collection was born. Why not create one that is reusable and stylish. My roommate and business partner Heather came from humble beginnings. We both invested $2k (my life savings) to put together our website, partnership agreement, logo, and initial samples. As soon as we had our first samples, we went knocking door to door in Hawaii, and the rest is history.
What are some challenges you encounter as a designer here in California?
I think distractions. It’s always beautiful here and I like to be outside but of course, there’s work to be done in the office. As a designer in general, my biggest challenge is combining art with functionality.
What motivated you to create bags, more specifically ones you can travel with?
There’s only so much real estate in your suitcase. I needed something super light-weight, that I could use as a clutch on a night out, take to the beach, stow my cosmetics, and keep my dry suit and my wet suit separate. Find all of them here https://aloha-collection.com/
What inspires your designs on your products?
Traveling. There is so much beauty in the world from palm trees in Hawaii, striped umbrellas on the beaches of Monaco, to tiles in Italian cafes.
When did you realize that you wanted to create your own brand?
I just wanted a solution to my problem. The brand came second.
What are your must-haves when traveling?
I don’t leave home without a bikini, a little black dress, a pillow (to feel at home), sunnies, a travel speaker, compression socks (I know. It’s not sexy, but if you're flying for over 8hrs, you'll thank me), one holy outfit (for museums and cathedrals), and a notebook.
What are the things you are most excited to do while in Italy?
Eating all the pizza and pasta I want! And of course, meeting new people.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I was going to say wine and cheese but then I spilled wine on my keyboard. ;)
What's your favorite cocktail?
Old Fashioned, and recently a mezcal old fashioned.
List three things that make you happy!
What fills my heart the most is traveling, meeting new people, and my adorable pup Ted.