(Photographer Joycelyn Cabal)
Lai Sha, a wife, mother, breast cancer survivor and businesswoman with a story to tell. After being diagnosed with cancer six years ago, she began the Kumumea project, an accessories brand based out of the Big Island in Hawai’i. It is a brand so pure and genuine that we needed to share it.
Kumumea was born from a place of strength – with the physical and emotional strain that cancer had cast on her life, Lai Sha began to sew as a way of coping with it. To focus her energy on something that would bring beauty to the world, she started sewing by sight, and still does to this day. When friends and family caught wind of the pieces she was creating, they suggested that she take the brand to the next level.
The brand’s lines are Hiapo, Kaona, Ho’ola, Ulana, and Na`iau – each design tells the story of a mother's victorious journey through cancer to the living elements in the birth names of her children.
- Hiapo means first-born.
- Kaona, the second line, refers to a deeper, hidden meaning within people. On the outside, their stories may be unknown, but one does lie beneath. The outside is plain and the lining embodies our story.
- Ho’ola, the third line, speaks of a new beginnings.
- Ulana, the fourth line, symbolizes one's past, present, and future woven together creating a beautiful tapestry called, "life".
- Na`iau, our fifth line means to add and enhance, symbolizing her twins Kamakanikolonahe and Kauakili`ohu.
In Lai Sha’s case, it is a story of overcoming challenges with strength and beauty.
Now with her small team, Lai Sha continues to design new models in limited edition. It’s through this process that she can maintain her creativity and flexibility, allowing her to create in that moment. Kumumea is a passion project that will always be there to comfort her, but it is not a duty nor obligation.