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It’s a Shell Of A Life

NAWILIWILI — Two dynamic, eco-friendly business women are on a mission.

Shell Of A Life owner Liliana Estep and Kealia Organics owner Taylor Garcia joined forces recently on missions geared toward saving their planet, recycling trash into Kaua‘i-made products, and involving many other Kaua‘i artists.

Not only is the duo inspiring other artists to sell their wares in the Shell Of A Life store at Anchor Cove Shopping Center, they’re also pitching in to do a monthly donation to local nonprofits. Each artist who sells products out of the store puts aside as much as they can for donation from every sale. At the end of each month, the crew gets together and pulls the name of a nonprofit out of a fishbowl.

In December, the ladies picked the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank from the fishbowl and were able to put together a $100 donation.

In January, Garcia was the woman picking the nonprofit, and she drew the Ho‘omana Thrift Shop. January donations totaled $175 to go toward their cause. She was thrilled.

“Ho‘omana Thrift Shop is a nonprofit that supports disabled or special-needs people and gives them jobs,” said Garcia.

Estep and Garcia met on the craft-fair circuit. Garcia makes soaps out of local ingredients, like olena (turmeric), beeswax, honey and spinach powder, all gathered from local farmers.

“I always ask them, ‘what do you have that I can use that I haven’t used yet?’” Garcia said.

Impressed by Garcia’s will to save the plant and her shampoo bars that were made without plastics, Estep struck up a conversation one day. The rest is history.

“I was really frustrated that all of these craft fairs that I’d been doing the circuit now for three years. These people don’t have access to our artwork. I came out with the idea to open up a small business,” said Estep.

With the desire to bring together local artisans who are dedicated to their community, Estep was eyeing Nawiliwili Park as a location for a new art show, where vendors would gather. Roadblocks caused them to switch gears, and together the duo opened up Shell Of A Life.

Now they’re building their roster of local artists, looking for more who like themselves are dedicated to giving back to the island.

“It feels really good. Brah, I’m getting chicken skin right now,” said Garcia. “It just feels good because people are not always presented with the opportunity to give back. This helps our business grow, and it also helps us grow. We can give back and feel good about our business. But, most importantly, we are being involved with our community.”

As they were celebrating their donation to Ho‘omana, Estep pointed out a watercolor painting on her wall from one of her artists named Mercedes. Displaying artists’ creations, she says, helps with sales.

Artists who would like to display their wares at Shell Of A Life and add to their donation fishbowl can find the store at the back of Anchor Cove, Suite 210, near JJ’s Broiler.

Both ladies say they feel it’s imperative to support local businesses and give back at the same time. “I’ve been blessed my whole life. This is my church. It is important to give back,” said Estep.

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Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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