LIHU‘E — The virtual event “A Woman’s Place is…,” hosted by Maui Business Brainstormers, honored eight business, career-oriented women from around the islands in celebration of the Fourth American Business Women’s Day in the State of Hawai‘i on Tuesday.
“Highlighting stories of hard-working women around us is always cause for celebration,” said Marketing Consultant Nicole “Nico” Fisher, owner of Skywriting. “With every goal, there are decisions made at every turn. It’s those pivots that make the success come alive and relatable to others.”
Fisher was one of the event coordinators working to bring business women together each year to inspire each other during these unpredictable times.
“Especially now with so much unleveled footing we all are experiencing in every part of our lives, inspiration is the medicine needed to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Fisher said.
Fisher said she was excited for the ladies being honored in this way, and that it was a pleasure for her to volunteer for a moment like this.
An opening prayer was given by the only male co-host in the virtual ceremony, David Kapaku, and opening remarks were handled by co-host Gylian Solay. Behind the scenes were planners Pat Diaz, Lori Fisher and co-host Tricia Morris. Director of the Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center Robbie Melton was a co-host of the event, and introduced herself and Stephanie Shinno of The Garden Island newspaper as event moderator.
Five out of the eight honorees on the panel are from Kaua‘i.
Lyndsey Mieko Alohalani Haraguchi-Nakayama, co-owner at Hanalei Taro & Juice; Melia Foster, founder and president of Meli Wraps; Beth Tokioka, communications manager for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative; Barbara Bennett, founder, and owner of For Kaua‘i magazine; and Kaua‘i native Kyla Edison, geology and material-science technician with Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, made up the Kaua‘i contingency.
Other island participants were Barbara Garcia from Hawai‘i Island, owner, publisher, and editor of Ke Ola Magazine; Joyce Juhee Yang Harris from Maui, president of Hawai‘i Commercial Foods Inc.; and Monique Van Der Stroom from O‘ahu, founder and owner of Naked Cow Dairy Hawai‘i.
Participants were asked questions and had a few minutes to share their thoughts and their journeys.
Bennett shared how she become who she is today.
“I gave myself so many permissions over 80 years that I couldn’t even begin to think of one of the hundreds of permissions that I gave myself,” Bennett said. “But let me say this: women want their freedom in many different ways. Although this is not freedom, my most exciting experience in life was having the motherhood of three sons and three daughters.
“That does not bring you permission for freedom, but certainly a life experience and very important in my life,” Bennett said.
Tokioka believes her experiences could help others.
“I think sometimes the obstacles and the failures are the really great things that fill us out and make our journeys special,” Tokioka said. “I have a long history of working with Kaua‘i, 20 years with the county government. It was a wonderful experience working with the three mayors.
“Sometimes I think about maybe writing a book, and when I am ready to retire do some consultant work. Having seen over the years so many projects working on the ground with different mayors, working through controversy at times, just in a way to help others on how to make things happen in the community with the most support you can get and to make it the best it can be,” Tokioka said.
Edison shared how the legacy of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg helps her.
“She fought for women’s rights, all genders’ rights,” Edison said. “One thing that was pointed out was if you are a woman and you have your own mortgage and credit card you can basically thank her for that.”
Edison said her current job of geology and material-science technician was once looked at as a man’s job, so having someone fight for women’s rights has helped pave the way for the woman she is today.
Toward the end of the event, co-host Kapaku asked each panelist to answer in a few words just where a woman’s place is.
One answered: “A woman’s place is where her heart is, or where she can be a leader.”
Each woman at the event resonated strength, beauty, resilience, perseverance, appreciation and growth, and stressed the importance of self-care.
Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or [email protected]