When Etal O’Nell began making jewelry, starting a business was not in the picture. Several years later, her hobby has blossomed into a local business called Nalani Jewelry, which has a special line of products whose proceeds benefit Hoʻōla Nā Pua.
Her journey started after visiting a friend’s boutique. Etal decided that she could create her own version of the handmade pieces that captivated her interest. Initially, she says, “I started making jewelry because I couldn’t afford to buy it.”
Although Etal has lived in several locations, her jewelry is inspired by the beaches of Hawaii and Florida. She currently resides in Kailua and observes, “A lot of my color selection comes from the area—you can’t step outside without being inspired.” The glass and shells that define her style have prompted people to describe her jewelry as heavenly, a description which is reflected in her business’ name, Nalani, meaning “of the heavens.”
Since one of the ocean elements in Etal’s products is a starfish, her work aligns superbly with Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s theme. The connection between Nalani Jewelry and Hoʻōla Nā Pua was forged a few years ago. As it happens, Etal’s husband works with Jessica Munoz, and it didn’t take long before a conversation about one of Etal’s bangles sparked a partnership between the business and the non-profit.
Through her role as a supporting partner of Hoʻōla Nā Pua, Etal has seen growth in her personal relationships. Because her own daughter is the same age as some of the girls that Hoʻōla Nā Pua seeks to reach, Etal’s understanding of sex trafficking has changed the way she and her husband educate their children on safety and awareness. She says, “This has helped me to be a different mother to my daughter.” In response, Etal observes that her daughter is one of her biggest cheerleaders, encouraging her to continue her jewelry, even when the task becomes time-consuming.
Additionally, through spreading the word of Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s mission, Etal has also witnessed an outpouring of support from her community. She has found that many are willing to do their part and are eager to support both her business and Hoʻōla Nā Pua’s vision.
At the end of the day, she has discovered that this is not just about the jewelry anymore. She says, “There’s always a drive in me when I make each piece. When I’m making jewelry for Hoʻōla Nā Pua, I’m thinking about the girls—how they’ve become my heroes. Every piece I make is dedicated to these girls.”
Written by Elisabeth Kurashige | Volunteer