For those who fancy themselves as Hawaiian treat connoisseurs, Doe Fang should ring a bell and pull a heartstring. Located in the Aina Haina Shopping Center, Uncle Clay's little mom and pop store has stood as a symbol of pure aloha and "Magic Icees" since Clayton Chang purchased Doe Fang in 1996. Now, fifteen years and a twenty-something business partner later, Uncle Clay is reopening his house with a sustainable modern twist.
For nearly a century, people from all walks of life left Doe Fang with a complimentary li hing seed. Providing that joy for others kept Uncle Clay happy, but due to the local economy, rising costs and the redevelopment of O'ahu's oldest shopping center, Doe Fang's future wasn't looking so positive.
Realizing that it would be virtually impossible to remain in the black for more than a few more years, it seemed yet another mom and pop shop was on its way out. Then in 2009, as things took a turn for the worst, a life changing call came from Uncle Clay's nephew in Los Angeles. Bronson Chang wanted to come home to help save his uncle's business. "Like Uncle Clay always told me, follow your heart," recalls the Punahou and USC graduate. "Well, this is what my heart is telling me to do. I told [Uncle Clay] over the phone that day. He went silent for quite some time and that was beginning of our magical journey."
From their multi-generational family business model to their financial and environmental innovation, Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha (HOPA) puts a new spin on the prosperity of local businesses. The HOPA story is about a childhood dream transforming into a life calling for Uncle Clay, and the reincarnation of this dream for his nephew Bronson. It's about using a humble little snack shop in Hawai'i as a vehicle to share aloha. Uncle Clay has always been there for his community, so when the day came that he needed their support, they returned the aloha through a novel vehicle known as Profounder.
Profounder is an online crowd-funding platform that allows entrepreneurs to raise start-up or growth capital from their family, friends and community. Since October 2010, the pair has raised over $60,000 from the financial investments of their supporters. Uncle Clay's has always been about serving the community and through Profounder, his new House was literally built through the support of the community he served. "It's a win-win all around, and that's the pure aloha way. The success of our innovative fundraising was a direct result of the rich and meaningful relationships Uncle Clay has made through the years," Bronson remarks.
Yet another enlightening aspect of the business is their product. The new House is a "Hawaiian treat shop" with a twist. The new shop features all-natural shave ice homemade from as many island-sourced ingredients from local farmers as possible. It's their "hopa" to take one of Hawai'i's most iconic and refreshing snacks to the next level“more ono, healthier and more Hawai'i. Their in-house Pure Aloha Culinary Developer, Chef Rena Suzuki, has dedicated over six months to formulate the initial line-up of 14 original syrup flavors including locally sourced traditional flavors like mango, papaya and pineapple, as well as new creations such as spinach, kale apple.
HOPA will also feature other original local snacks like solar-dried fruit and eventually the duo hopes to implement all-natural li hing and crackseed products. Now it's easy to say that pure aloha has returned to Aina Haina.