Back in the summer of 1999, AlohaFunWear.com was started in a tiny spare bedroom in a quiet little neighborhood on the island of Oahu. Scott, our founder, was incredibly bored of living the corporate life as a project manager with no say and no stake in the future of the company. He simply could not imagine spending the rest of life stuck in a career prison with no joy, no creativity, and no fun. So, one evening, he simply decided to quit! For years he had a vision of providing something fun and positive to as many people as he could. He soon decided that that something would be Aloha shirts. What could be more symbolic of breaking away from the daily grind than a Hawaiian shirt? So he submitted his resignation letter and gave his 3-months notice (he wanted to make sure a project he was working on was completed successfully) then got to work on AlohaFunWear.com.
In the early days, Scott did everything himself. He met with numerous clothing manufactures, chose what shirts and dresses to sell, photographed and uploaded images, and packed and shipped orders all by himself. He soon met other entrepreneurs who also quit their day jobs to begin the adventure of launching their own businesses. A bunch of them all moved into an old office building at the edge of Chinatown in Honolulu. One of his friends sold Hawaiian t-shirts and gifts. Another sold Hawaiian food and snacks. One even started a web portal and email service. And not everyone was a dot-com. Scott shared office space with a medical startup called RealSpeak. It was like being in college dorm where everyone on the floor was pursuing their dreams, not the dreams of someone else. Everyone gladly helped each other out by contributing skills that others needed. They built an online marketplace called Shops of Aloha so everyone could cross-promote each other. They even created a fun networking group called eList which threw secret parties once a month a trendy locations around town. Things were going great and everyone was have a wonderful time! We were shipping boxes full of Hawaiian shirts every day. Then September 11, 2001 happened and business for everyone came to a screeching halt.
Those were difficult and uncertain times. Some of the companies ended up shutting down. Even the Hawaiian shirt manufacturers were under incredible financial strain as hundreds of thousands of dollars of shipped merchandise were returned by stores on the Mainland who decided they did not want to take on inventory when business was so slow. AlohaFunWear.com came within a split decision of shutting our doors for good as debt mercilessly piled up. We came very close to closing the business and returning to regular jobs on a more than one occasion. But one day while walking around outside the office stressed and overwhelmed by the circumstances, Scott looked down and realized that he was actually wearing an Aloha shirt himself. How ironic it would be, he thought, if he made the decision to throw in the towel and look for a regular job while wearing the symbol of why he started the company in the first place. Perhaps it was this realization that snapped him out of his funk and turned sadness into motivation. He knew that someday he may have to call it quits, but not on THAT day. So he moved to quickly cut costs, downsize the office, max out his credit cards and start anew.
From 2003 – 2009 we partnered with a great fulfillment company that freed up our time and resources to work on other strategic things. We started laying the groundwork for new businesses and always remembered how a single event nearly took down the company. We started shipping more orders around the world and provided Aloha shirt uniforms to universities and other B2B customers around the country. Things were fun again, especially the photoshoots. We LOVE photoshoots! Seeing the clothing as we prep them for shipping is one thing. But seeing them on real people having fun at the beach under some palm trees and the tropical sun is quite another! You can’t help but smile when you see people having fun in Aloha fun wear.
But our story doesn’t end there. Our vision is to be YOUR place to shop for fun Hawaiian fashion. We want to provide you with the perfect piece of wearable Aloha that cheerfully expresses who YOU are, especially if you're going through a rough patch. We come to “work” everyday trying to turn this vision into a reality and admit we have a long way to go. But we hope you stick with us on this journey and join our community of fun Aloha shirt wearing people. We are all about helping YOU achieve that laid back confidence that comes from wearing the proper aloha fun wear that brings out the Aloha in you!