“Maui Mini Alohas” Venture Begins

How cute.” Last December 2014, at a Christmas fair I bought a mini aloha shirt ornament in red Hawaiian palaka pattern with maile lei and ukulele for my husband who plays the ukulele. The ornaments’ traditional Hawaiian elements appealed to me. Little did I know then that I would meet the creator of the ornament, and that we would consider partnering up several months later.

On May 19, 2015, at a Maui Business Brainstormers meeting, in walked Penny Dant, whom was one of my community volunteers back in 2004 when I was the public education specialist working for the Maui Invasive Species Committee. Penny was part of the “frog squad” helping to educate the public about the newly arrived coqui frog native to Puerto Rico that was wrecking our landscape. Now many years later, we meet up again as two small business owners. What a small world!

Mele Fong presents to a business group

Ukulele Mele makes a business presentation

During the May 19th meeting, I made a presentation to fellow business people asking for ideas on how to grow my online ‘ukulele lessons business. I’m trying to increase my conversion rate from “likes” and “click throughs” on my social media posts and email marketing campaigns to customer purchases of my packaged song sets of book/DVD/CD for different abilities of ‘ukulele players and ‘ukulele lessons online or on Maui.

Business people offered ideas to Ukulele Mele

Business people offered ideas to Ukulele Mele

Penny Dant sat next to me at the meeting, and just happened to have samples of her “Maui Mini Alohas” handmade ornaments. We made a date to meet the following day to discuss how we could help each other out. Currently Penny sells her products to retail stores who cater to tourists looking for Maui mementos, and she is looking to expand her sales outlets. At a previous Maui Business Brainstormers meeting (that I missed), my name was mentioned as someone she should contact for ideas.

Penny Dant and Mele Fong help each other's businesses

Penny Dant and Mele Fong help each other’s businesses

On May 20, I selected five ‘ukulele themed ornaments of different colors and design elements that I think would appeal to ‘ukulele players, especially homesick Hawaiians and Hawaiians-at-heart living on the mainland. Penny offered to give me a few ornaments to take to my next ‘ukulele class on Maui to see if there is any interest in buying and ordering more. I may offer the ornaments for sale through my website.

We’ll see what happens. A new wholesale/retail venture begins!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele


Mele Fong is a professional singer, song arranger, and master of multiple strumming styles for the 'ukulele. She is an experienced educator with over 50+ years experience playing the 'ukulele and entertaining worldwide. Mele performs with her husband in the duo "The Hawaiian Serenaders" and leads student groups. In 1996, the duo represented the State of Hawai'i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Mele and her husband Richard Tom were both born and raised on Oahu and now reside in Maui.