'Just be Hawaiians:' Hundreds of Native Hawaiian business leaders gather for event on Maui

Posted by Staff Writer on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 at 8:46am


“Follow our dreams and just be Hawaiians.”

That’s what celebrity Hawaiian chef Sam Choy told an audience of roughly 270 people at the Hui Holomua Business Fest at King Kamehameha Golf Club last month, an event hosted by the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce. Island Sotheby’s International Realty’s own Ryan MacLaughlin PB attended the event, which was a huge success for Native Hawaiian business leaders on island.

“Our keynote speaker was Sam Choy, who is a living testament of a Native Hawaiian who grew up in a small town and created an international brand that spurred restaurants worldwide,” said MacLaughlin, an owner of Island Sotheby’s International Realty who also serves on the chamber’s board. “His message was simple: ‘just be Hawaiians.’”

Keynote Speaker Sam Choy. Photo Credit Bryan Berkowitz.

“It doesn’t matter if you have Hawaiian blood or not — just think with your Hawaiian values at all times, and you will be successful,” said MacLaughlin. “I loved it!”

MacLaughlin has been a member of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce for a few years, and was selected to become a board member about two years ago. He joined the chamber because he truly believes in its cause and mission statement: to promote and sustain Hawaiian culture, nurture a strong community with Hawaiian values and enhance opportunities for success in business and education.  

Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Photo Credit Bryan Berkowitz.

“I fully support this mission. I am a native Hawaiian, who is very proud of his culture,” said MacLaughlin. “The chamber promotes and helps all locally-owned businesses, so being that I am an Native Hawaiian business owner, I get to network with a wide range of peers and feel fully supported.”

Biz Fest, where Choy spoke in October, was an incredible collaboration of local business owners and leaders. Organizations ranging from new startups like a cookie company to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs attended the event in hopes of spurring discussions about growth, education and success in the local business community.

Ryan MacLaughlin at the 2018 Hui Holomua Business Fest. Photo Credit Bryan Berkowitz.

“To see the range of businesses in one room is so exciting,” said MacLaughlin. “I literally watched partnerships being made and ideas and suggestions being thrown around from peer to peer.”

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