By One Earth United ~
From the hearty “Howdy” of Texas to the warm “Aloha” of Hawaii, every culture has its way of greeting others. For some, these words are so much more than mere salutations.
Take, for example, “Aloha,” which is the core essence of the soul of Hawaii. It means value, honor, respect, and gratitude. These characteristics express the charm, warmth, and sincerity of Hawaii’s people.
Bringing spirit to community is an important role for Kaneloni Davis— it is part of a sacred honor within many Indigenous cultures.
“Aloha is everywhere,” says fashion designer Kanoelani Davis, a native Hawaiian.
There may be a difference in the land, the language, and cultural traditions, but “Aloha” is the essence of building great relationships. Aloha is treating people with kindness and respect, Davis explains, “whether you live in the islands or east to Texas and beyond.”
Many artists seek to express a sense of cultural identity, much like one may say “Aloha” or “howdy” as a way to communicate one’s feeling of belonging to their community. Davis is a designer who does this exceptionally well.
She is a small business owner and creative designer for PoMahina Designs. She is a lifelong cultural practitioner and torchbearer for the survival of many Hawaiian art forms. It is her way of life and in many instances, it is not separate from her being.
Davis’s dedication to culture, advocacy for cultural awareness, and love for design are woven together and manifest in the patterns that adorn the wearable art of PoMahina Designs. Her contemporary fashions are infused with culture, tradition, and Aloha.
Davis was the first Indigenous Hawaiian designer to be featured at the London Fashion Week; the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, in New Zealand; and the annual Hawaiian Fashion Show, in Washington, D.C. These runway shows have opened the way for Davis and other Hawaiians to showcase their creativity and culture.
Her runway collections are just one of her many projects. For the past eight years, she has continued working with a team from the University of Hawaii to support Puni Ke Ola – a Drug Intervention/Prevention Program. By helping youth better understand their own culture and self-identity, Davis hopes to help them to make better choices in life.
And, recently, she donated PPE masks to front line workers in the continental US.
She does all this from her homeland of Molokai, a tiny island of 8000 residents. There are no shopping malls, fast food restaurants, or buildings more than three stories high, preserving much of the island’s natural beauty.
For Davis, this is an ideal location despite the lone post office, affording only weekly deliveries of supplies and mail.
“It is our land,” Davis said. “We are fortunate to be on the land of our ancestors, in this land of aloha.”
Until you are able to visit Hawaii, you can experience the beauty of Hawaiian culture at pomahinadesigns.com. Discover how each of her designs reflect a healing energy and the spirit of Aloha.
Contributed by One Earth United – building connections among different cultures through the arts. To learn more, visit One Earth United at oneearthunited.org.