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Meet one Hawaii-based jewelry designer who up-cycles all found materials!

I first met Maki, owner of Leinaia, because her store is next to another client, Protea Zero Waste Store. I'd see her adorable light pink Volkswagen van parked out front and all the cute displays in her window, so one day I went in. Maki carries all sorts of products she sources from the islands, some vintage items, and tons of jewelry that she makes herself!

resin flower jewelry on model

What stood out to me was, for the most part, the focal point of all her jewelry was found objects- sea glass, micro plastic, flowers, and flower petals. To collect her microplastics, she holds or participates in beach clean ups, and she collects the flower petals and sea glass herself.

Maki began her business simply because she loved jewelry and making her own jewelry. Her friends had recognized her talent and were asking her to make pieces, so she started taking orders and realized it could be a business. Officially launched in 2011, Maki began by selling consignment to 5 different stores in town. In 2016, she bought the vintage pink VW bus that I love and created a mobile jewelry shop. Finally in 2018, she was able to open her own brick and mortar for Leinai'a!

female model in earrings at the beach

Where did the name come from, I wondered. Leinai’a is actually a name that Maki created on her own. She took from Lei (flower Lei) and Nai’a (dolphin in Hawaiian) and put them together.

"Lei is welcoming people with Aloha and Dolphins are my favorite animal and changed my life," Maki tells me.

The Story of Leinai’a

Maki never seems to take the easy road when it comes to sourcing her materials and has always had the desire to collect them herself. When she began, she used natural sea shells from Hawaii and gemstones to make her jewelry. However, with time she felt that she wanted to make something more unique and one of a kind. This led her to visit Arkansas, climb a mountain, and mine crystals herself to turn them into jewelry. The microplastics and flowers I spoke of before came after the crystals.

After sticking with her idea for so long before being able to open a store, I was curious as to what the greatest lesson she'd learned as an entrepreneur was. "By always thanking our customers and those who support us, I will receive gratitude from many people," she tells me.

"If you could tell yourself something from the get go, what would you say?"

"keep enjoying,"

What is next for Leinai’a

Maki is always adding some new cool item or material into her store, so I wondered what was next. "I adopted a puppy at the end of May and planning to open small pet fashion and toy shop in the backspace of my current shop." As a dog owner, we are so excited to come visit and check everything out!!

An Entrepreneur Never Rests

It's hard to run a business if you don't love your business. It's not something you can just turn off or fully walk away from. I'm always curious as to what my clients love most about being their own boss. For Maki, it's that all the effort she makes comes back to her 100%. For anyone out there struggling to keep pushing with their idea or passion, hopefully's Maki's story of being unique, taking her time, and following her passion will inspire you!

Thanks Maki!


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