COURTESY PURE HAPA
Nadyne Keala Orona introduces Pure Hapa.
Pure Hapa: New line makes a splash
NADYNE KEALA ORONA is almost apologetic about having been born and raised in California, saying, "I'm almost local. My family's from Kauai, and I grew up eating fish and poi and green onions. I had my chocolate milk with Saloon Pilot crackers."
That local-style cred is important when you're touting a Hawaii-based skin-care line, that, while manufactured and distributed from Southern California, contains "90 percent of ingredients from Maui, the Big Island and North Shore area," she said.
But words are words, and the proof is in meeting her, and Orona not only looks like a bona fide local beauty queen, the voice coming out of her is pure tita, a combination that can only be made in Hawaii. In that way, she's just like one of her best friends, former Miss Universe Brook Lee, who helped introduce Pure Hapa at Halekulani last week.
Orona HAD a successful high-tech career in Maryland before retiring in 2002. She's now back in California but has a second home on Lanai, returning to Hawaii monthly.
"I found myself sitting on Hulopoe Beach, wondering what I was going to do for the second phase of my life. I'm a Type A kind of person anyway. But at that moment, I felt like my grandmother and ancestors were talking to me."
Feeling the sun on her skin, she not only imagined a line of skin-care products using the Hawaiian botanicals she remembers her grandmother applying to her skin, but the name, Pure Hapa, as well. The name describes who she is, with her Hawaiian, Irish and Korean ancestry.
Since Pure Hapa debuted about five months ago, the line has made a splash not only in Hawaii, but in Hollywood and in such national magazines as Us. "A lot of celebrities like it. Lisa Rinna carries it in her Belle Gray boutiques. Marcia Cross and Mariska Hargitay put it in their list of must-haves.
"They use it not because it's associated with Hawaii -- because there are a lot of Hawaii products on the market -- but it really works. My skin creams are not greasy, yet they also don't feel like nothing's there, like with some products you put it on and go, 'Where is it?'"
Thanks to publicity that came from participation at a pre-Emmy Silver Spoon Hollywood party, the business is growing more quickly than Orona expected.
"I thought this was just going to be a hobby," says Orona, who at age 49 is the perfect spokeswoman for Pure Hapa -- her complexion looks like that of a woman half her age.
She grew up with knowledge of her grandmother's homespun skin-care regimen, including use of noni juice, and azuki bean powder as an exfoliant.
"It softens the skin but it's not abrasive, and she was using it in the '60s and '70s.
"I'm not a chemist but I'm working with one," Orona said. "I knew there was something more to these ingredients than being a folk remedy."
She learned that noni possesses antioxidant qualities, and uses it in Pure Hapa's Hawaiian Essential Facial Serum ($28).
"I was thinking of using poi, too, because it's good for the skin -- you use it like a clay mask -- but everyone told me not to because poi is scarce."
Speaking of foodstuff, there's a real danger that someone unaware of the products' purpose might open a jar and try to taste the various skin potions. They smell that good, especially the Hawaiian Haupia Orange Souffle body cream ($22), with its combination of sweet orange essential oil, chamomile and papaya extracts. Just as ono-smelling is the Sweet Pineapple Sugar hydrating body cream ($23), inspired by the island of Lanai.
Soy and beeswax travel candles served up in a tin are $7 and bring a touch of home to your travels, Lee said. During a trip to China, she was amused to find the hotel maids congregating in her room, drawn by the aromas of her candles, scented with mango and coconut, coconut and lemongrass, and green tea and jasmine.
Orona said, "We have more products coming out based on pakalana, puakenikeni, some of my grandmother's favorite flowers, sweet mountain apple for a baby product, and men's products as well.
"We're scaling fast, but it's important to me to scale properly and not grow too fast to keep the integrity of the line. I'm never going to go cheap with my product."
Look for Pure Hapa at Blush at Kahala Mall, Hilo Hattie's, Ihilani Spa, Mauna Lani Resort and Manele Bay Hotel.