Peek Inside Aloha Kira, Kailua’s New Joy-Filled Boutique
If happy-happy, joy-joy were a store, this would be it.
“This is the serotonin boost I’ve been needing!” I think as I step through Aloha Kira’s cheery pink and checkered yellow storefront, my smile growing larger by the second. Inside, I’m greeted by a giant rainbow-hued mural, featuring a grinning Spam musubi, giggling coconuts and a wide-eyed pineapple.
“As soon as we found out about this space I was talking to Kelsey,” says owner Christine Tang, referring to Kelsey Dayna, the local artist behind the mural. “I really like her style.” The artwork is a perfect reflection of the type of merchandise Tang likes to carry and the vibe she cultivates in all of her stores: “a little bit whimsical, witty with a mischievous feel, colorful and happy—nothing too serious,” she says.
Opened in the beginning of October, the Kailua location is the newest outpost for Tang’s family of Kira-named brands. She started out in 2010 with Kira Kids, her organic clothing line for keiki, known for its adorable illustration-style graphics. Then came her Kira Kids boutique, now shuttered, in Los Altos, California. Kira San Francisco, her gift shop located near Golden Gate Park followed. And in the spring of 2020, Tang and her family made the move from California to O‘ahu, opening up Kira x Miffy, a concept store shared with the popular Dutch character brand Miffy, at the Royal Hawaiian Center.
What sets the Hekili Street location apart is the addition of womenswear, a totally new category for Tang, that makes up nearly half of the shop. Think bubble gum pink terry shirts with matching shorts from Australian brand Ariminta James, lilac swirled corset tanks from LA label Signature 8 and floaty floral slip dresses galore. “I try to find things that are super comfy. And color is important.”
Of the 50 brands Aloha Kira stocks, there are a lot that I haven’t run into anywhere else on O‘ahu, including Areaware, which makes design-forward home goods, puzzles and more. Tang carries boldly patterned kitchen timers and pepper grinders from one of my personal favorites, Dusen Dusen. And the Ginger June Candle Co. candles, set in wavy glass jars, would lend some hip factor to any tabletop.
Locally designed items are peppered throughout the shop. Look out for Hawai‘i-inspired art prints from Kailah Ogawa and the aforementioned Dayna. The keiki section includes retro-minded terry onesies from Elli-O Hawai‘i and tropical swaddle blankets from The Keiki Dept. Miffy herself makes an appearance in the form of little crochet dolls.
Soon, Tang will reintroduce her Kira Kids apparel, which she put on hold during the pandemic, with new onesies and tees printed with musubi, shave ice and floaty-rocking pineapples. Funnily enough, as if she was manifesting her new life on O‘ahu, many of the designs she created while living in San Francisco had island vibes “inspired by Hawai‘i.”
“One of my best friends lives here, so I was visiting every year and I just came to love Hawai‘i,” Tang says. Making Honolulu her base felt like a natural next step. “The people here are some of the kindest I’ve ever met—they are thoughtful of others and prioritize taking care of each other and their communities.” I ask if she feels more like herself here. “Totally. Hawai‘i is my happy place. I just always feel happy when I think about it.” It’s a feeling she hopes Aloha Kira will provide right back.