Made in Maui County's History
By former Executive Director, Lynn Britton (1982-87)
Lynn, is widely and highly thought of as the founder of Made in Maui. In the following narrative of the early history of the Made in Maui brand, she not only shares the credit with everyone involved but almost steps out of the spotlight herself. Giving credit to others who helped is, of course, appropriate. To fail to also credit Lynn for the five or more years that she spent nurturing the MIM idea would be a mistake. Britton wrote the following from memory in 2003.
Made in Maui was conceived by Bonnie Tuell. Bonnie was Community Relations Officer for Maui Electric and was a 'home economics' professional. She was also the entrepreneur who developed Maui Jams and Jellies in the kitchen of her home. She served as Chamber President in 1980 and it was her primary goal for the Chamber to set up a Maui-products marketing program.
Ev. Spring became president after Bonnie, and continued to pursue the Maui products marketing effort. The original idea was to support and encourage Maui-grown products. "Made in Hawaii" was promoting products statewide, but that wasn't enough. Maui was 'no ka oi,' ("the best") and we wanted our own brand. With over a million visitors and residents that wanted to "Buy Maui" the possibilities were endless.
Roger Knox was the Executive Director of the Chamber during both Bonnie's term and Ev.'s first term as president. I served as Roger's administrative assistant and when he retired I took over as Executive Director in January 1982. Because of the transition, Ev. was asked to serve a second term.
A major part of the initial discussion had focused on finding a way to 'grade' agricultural products like Maui onions and protea, which had been identified as promising export crops for Maui's upcountry area. The quality would be guaranteed by having a 'grading' or 'rating' committee attest that the products met the highest standards set for the industry. Despite considerable interest, developing the method to do that was a challenge.
When I became Executive Director, my top priority was to get Made in Maui (MIM) off the ground. Somehow we had to find a way to promote Maui-made products that benefited the maximum number of companies and to develop a marketing strategy that would help us achieve our goals. I did not think the purpose should be to limit our efforts to what was grown on Maui. Rather, I wanted to find a way to include all products that were grown or manufactured here. A committee was formed and the scope was expanded to one intended to universally apply to all Maui-grown or manufactured products and services. The critical pre-requisite was that in order to qualify, products had to be 50% value-added on Maui.
We held a logo contest. Over 100 entries were received. I don't recall who won the $100 cash prize. A committee considered Maui-made, Made On Maui, and finally, settled on Made in Maui as the 'brand'. There was considerable discussion about whether it should it be Made 'on' Maui or 'in' Maui. I think the decision was based on the fact that Maui was a County as well as an island, and 'in' provided the most flexibility.
The winning design was a circle with two mountains in the center. The symbol represented the West Maui and East Maui (Haleakala) Mountain ranges, as well as Iao Valley and the Iao needle. The art could also be interpreted as two the M's of in Made in Maui. We added Hawaii and U.S.A. because at the time Maui was not the household word it is today! The logo was readily identifiable and symbolically significant.
Under Bonnie and Ev.'s leadership we met with the farmers and helped arrange some meetings with Safeway's West Coast marketing director. One day we took the Safeway manager up to the fields of cabbage and onions in Omaopio and asked his help on marketing Maui cabbage. Masao Uradomo and Paul Otani, among others, hosted our guest. He had his mind set on Maui onions. But, at the time, the farmers weren't able to commit to the quantity that was needed for Safeway distribution.
That was the problem in the beginning for most if not all Maui products. We had great products, but the members were small 'mom and pop' business operators. The question was, could they supply enough quantity to meet the demand required by interested large-scale buyers?
Through Made in Maui Committee efforts, Maui stores such as Long's were approached about doing promotions. The Chamber was involved with Emil Tedeschi of Tedeschi Winery when he started pursuing the Japanese market. Working with Emil we found out about international export laws, and sponsored a few import/export seminars.
After the first year we planned our first photo shoot. Suzanne and John Hills owned Maui Gold Magazine and offered their front cover. Ray Mains was the photographer and we did the shoot until midnight in the studio at Maui Custom Color. It was my job to keep the cone filled with Roselani Ice Cream from dripping on the other products on the table.
The picture shows the original Made in Maui members. It's personally rewarding to see the success of many of the original members. Maui Jams and Jellies (now Maui Jelly Factory) is still going strong under new ownership. Both Maui Soda & Ice's Roselani Ice Cream and Tedeschi Winery are "Maui in Maui" success stories. And Maui Onions have become world famous.
But it was the vision of Chamber presidents Bonnie Tuell and Ev. Spring and former Chamber Executive Director Roger Knox that made "Made in Maui" a slogan whose time had come.
The Made In Maui Seal
Bumper stickers are everywhere urging, "Buy Made in Maui First." Turbinado sugar packets, including those used on Air Force One by the President of the United States and his traveling companions, and poha berry jam jar lids carry a logo promising the contents are "Made in Maui." On Visitor Channel 7, there is an energetic TV-ad campaign showing Maui people smiling and waving and putting Maui elements together in Maui factories to make Maui products. No doubt, the campaign is good for the local economy, but very few people realize it is a concerted effort by a dedicated core of business people bent on making Maui "a brand."
The Made in Maui Trade Council, a committee of the Chamber of Commerce since 1980, has been very successful with campaigns that are often compared with the "Good Housekeeping Seal" program or the "Look for the Union label" approach. Lately, the coalition of local businesses has been growing rapidly and changing focus from the 'buy Maui first' idea to "Local People, Local Pride" to share that Made in Maui products have local people behind them who take pride in making quality products for residents and visitors to enjoy. It's an emphasis on these products as part of the new economy, beyond tourism.
While nothing will reduce the Council's requirement that Made in Maui companies must, "produce a marketable item with at least 51% value added on Maui," the reach of the invigorated brand is being extended. The business members include food producers, flower growers, clothing manufacturers, perfume, plastics and computer products among others, but that is just a start.
The now-familiar seal of the MIM Council is only one of the services provided for members. There are also cooperative trade show deals, allowing businesses too small to participate in shows themselves to have fair and knowledgeable representation. And, as Maui products increase their market shares outside Hawaii, there are container-sharing schemes in the making and plans to use shared brokers and distributors in the Asia-Pacific region and on the mainland.
The Present - Made in Maui County
In 2019, the Maui Chamber of Commerce decided to expand the trade council to include active vendor participants in the Made in Maui County Festival as they were all verified to have met the requirements. Each year vendors decide to participate in the festival provides them with 1 year of complimentary membership in the trade council and use of the Made in Maui County seal for their island home. We also worked with the Lanai Chamber of Commerce and Molokai Chamber of Commerce to create seals for their island manufacturers.
For more information on The Made in Maui Trade Council programs and membership call us at 808-244-0081 or email office@MauiChamber.com.