University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumna Jaimie Farinas is the co-owner of Hawai‘i Lei Stand. Founded with husband Reece — who she happened to meet on campus — and inspired in part by her own love of all things flowers, Hawai‘i Lei Stand seeks to share the cultural tradition of giving and receiving lei with anyone and everyone in the U.S.
At what types of occasions are lei typically given?
The thing to remember is that there is no wrong time to give someone a lei. Seriously. Headed to a birthday dinner? Grab that person a lei. Stopping by a bridal or baby shower? Better bring a lei. Going to Saturday brunch? There’s no rule saying you can’t wear a haku just because. Life is short; wear a lei.
What’s something about the lei industry that most people don’t know about?
When you’re shopping for lei, it’s easy to get caught up in admiring its beauty or fragrance or color, but think nothing of the amount of time that went into making it — I’m guilty of this, too. But if you take a moment to look closer, you’ll see hundreds of tiny buds or flower petals sewn together in intricate patterns. Case in point: The Christina lei is made with hundreds — about 500 — individual orchid flower petals and can take even a seasoned lei-maker two hours to string together. Yeah, it’s mind-boggling. It’s why we love, admire and appreciate our lei-makers so much.
What makes Hawai‘i Lei Stand unique?
When my husband — who, fun fact, I met at UH Mānoa when we both worked at Ka Leo O Hawai‘i — and I started Hawai‘i Lei Stand, we wanted to create a company that could share the beautiful flowers of the islands with the rest of the country. Our focus was to create an unforgettable experience every step of the way, offering a collection of both classic and modern lei.
Because Hawai‘i Lei Stand was designed with e-commerce at the forefront, the majority of our resources have been put heavily into creating a highly responsive and intuitive online shopping experience. We also put a lot of thought and attention into the small but important details we know savvy shoppers expect, including our print collateral, packaging and highly engaged customer service.
We primarily ship our lei across the country — in fact, roughly 90% of our orders are destined for the Mainland and neighbor islands. But we also offer lei and flowers in store at our location at 1293 S. Beretania St. for local delivery and pickup, with a convenient and free parking lot.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of the work you do?
We love giving and receiving lei, so it’s hardly “work” to help others do the same. But the best part is hearing from customers that their son or daughter stood out among classmates at graduation with an assortment of colorful lei; or that a couple, unable to return to the site of their wedding in Hawai‘i for a milestone anniversary, was able to celebrate in a different but equally special way. The positive stories are endless, and we hope to keep it that way. We never get tired of hearing them. In Hawai‘i, we sometimes take the giving and receiving of lei for granted.
Can you give us a few tips for choosing the right lei?
Customers often ask about which lei are best for men or women. The truth is there are no rules. Sure, some lei have always been thought to be better suited to one gender. Cigar lei are often a popular choice for men, while fragrant varieties like Micronesian ginger, tuberose and pīkake are thought to be best for women. But we’ve been having fun switching things up, and have come to the conclusion that any lei looks good on everyone.
That being said, if you are shipping a lei to the Mainland, orchid lei hold up best because they are remarkably sturdy, especially during the summer and winter months. We do our best to combat factors like temperature with insulated packaging and gel ice packs, but it’s something to keep in mind when shopping for lei.