Q&A with Drew Honda: Never forget the reason

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumnus Drew Honda is the owner of Sweet Enemy Clothing, a Hawai‘i streetwear brand with a moving purpose. Read on to learn more about Sweet Enemy, Drew's experiences as a business owner and lessons he's learned along the way.

What inspired you to start Sweet Enemy Clothing? How did you come up with the name?

The passing of my Grandma Rose in 2012 sparked a motivation to do something in honor of her. In 2013 I started a brand called Sweet Enemy to honor her name. It has grown to where we don’t just honor her but all those who aren’t here with us today, leading to our slogan “never forget the reason.”

When I had an idea to start a brand in honor of her I called my sister and told her the idea. She came up with a few different name options and the name “Sweet Enemy” stuck immediately. As you look at a rose the flower of the rose is beautiful and sweet while we relate the stem and thorns to the pain and hurt we go when we lose someone in our lives.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of starting your own business? The most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of starting my business is to see the growth of where it has come, seeing all the monumental points in my career and being able to set the bar higher every single time. Having a business allows you to have no ceiling in what you do. You learn life quickly and need to get out of your comfort zone and adapt. I like to use the quote sink or swim because you get thrown in the deep a lot of times but that will separate you from being average to being great.

The most challenging part is learning to put yourself first in situations. When you own a business, your life revolves around it. You will have to sacrifice a lot to see success and its tough to say no to people and things that might not help you get to where you want to get at the moment.

How has your UH education helped you in your career?

My UH education has helped my career by giving me opportunities to network and meet new people through school and classes. UH is where this brand started and student athletes and classmates were a huge support system in the early years. It was like walking marketing throughout campus and on sports interviews and media.

What is the most valuable lesson you learned running your own business?

The most valuable lesson I learned is that you need to be able to adapt and understand the moments when you can’t control things going wrong. You need to move forward and find ways to cope with the situation and adjust.

Do you have any advice for students and alumni who want to become entrepreneurs?

If you have a dream chase it. No goal is too big to achieve. You will have a lot of NOs and funny looks when things are too crazy and those are the best types of motivations. I said I was going to open a shop throughout college. I graduated then I worked as a substitute teacher and worked a corporate job. Through all that I still knew where my passion was and just worked towards it while doing all that. If you work hard and be consistent while manifesting your goals, your opportunity will come. It took me seven years to open this store I talked about when I first started this brand and I wouldn’t have wanted this journey any other way. PATIENCE, CONSISTENCY, AND HARD WORK!

To support Sweet Enemy, visit their storefront located at 2009 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826. You can also visit their website at www.sweetenemyclothing.com or follow them on Instagram at @sweetenemyclothing.

University of Hawai‘i Alumni