By Diane Ako
My high school classmate, Daniel Hi`ipoi Kauahi, lives by most standards, a perfect life. Working as a dolly grip in Hollywood, he brushes shoulders with brand-name stars on well-known movies and TV series like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Mr. Deeds, Dexter, Private Practice, and dozens more. He’s lucky to have steady work in a fickle industry.
The motion picture studio grip graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1988 and moved to California in 1997 to be near his son. While there he attend college at Chapman University. He graduated with a major in film and a minor in graphic arts, and immediately pursued work in the movie industry.
“It’s great; it’s so fast-paced and exciting. But things changed for me after my children were born,” he admits. “That’s when the pull of Hawaii became stronger and stronger. My youngest children are seven and two years old, and I’d really like to see them grow up nurtured by the same culture and wonderful sense of community that I grew up in.”
Now, he’s trying to find his way home, which probably necessitates a new career as well. “The film industry in Hawaii can’t provide me with as much steady work as I find in Los Angeles, so I’m looking to expand in new directions,” he explains.
Kauahi, of nearly half-Hawaiian ancestry, decided to use the other half of his college degree: that of graphic arts. “I’ve always liked sketching and creating, and it occurred to me that I could combine a passion for my Hawaiian culture with my love for drawing. I’ve created District 808, a clothing company.”
He feels if he can jump start a new clothing line, he can have a real shot at making his dream of moving back to Hawaii come true. He’s asking for the public’s help to donate to his Kickstarter campaign.
“District 808 is the embodiment of today’s Hawaii. It combines the past and the present to reflect who we are as a Polynesian society, moving forward into the future. It was borne out of my homesickness; I created it to be closer to Hawaii, which I have missed every day since I left the Islands. It’s my hope that people who wear my designs will also feel that much closer to Hawaii,” explains Kauahi.
Kauahi is asking for a total of $8,000, and his campaign closes on July 31. As per the Kickstarter model, he’s required to offer rewards and enticements based on the level of donor contribution. But what he says he’s really selling is a piece of the Island dream.
To contribute, go to his Kickstarter page at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/389805395/district-808-hawaiian-inspired-t-shirt-designs