Courtesy of Megan Spelman
Have you ever wondered how to make your dreams of having your own business come true? We can help. Every week, as part of our Self made series, we showcase women entrepreneurs as well as their quality handmade products, and share their top tips related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Aina & Co Supply, a family-rooted, Kealakekua, Hawaii-based agricultural brand offering premium farm and garden products. But a little over a decade ago, owners Asia Carreathers, COO and COO, and her husband, Adonis Ward, CEO and President, were in a very different place, literally and figuratively. At the time, they lived in Detroit, Michigan, and had recently welcomed a dog into their family. Soon after, her pup got sick; To remedy the problem, the couple upgraded their dog’s kitchen to the cleanest option on the market.
In just a few weeks, they noticed their dog’s coat changed dramatically for the better. “If food was to blame for his health problems, then what did that mean about him?” our food?” says Carreathers. “It encouraged us to investigate further how food was affecting our quality of life.”
That same year, Carreathers and Ward made another big life change. “We transferred our airline jobs to Hawaii, a tropical place where we could grow year-round,” she says. “We quickly realized that Hawaii was very expensive and that the dream of having our own space to grow food would be more challenging than we thought.”
Putting their faith in their future community, they decided to post an ad on Craigslist highlighting their hopes for housing and farm mentoring. The next day, her now-mentor Lindy Pounds, a local business owner and longtime farmer, responded after reading her story. “[She] it was inspired by our dreams to grow and live more sustainably,” says Carreathers. “Once the largest lettuce producer on the Big Island, it offered us a space and opportunity to live and learn their way of life.”
After teaching them everything he knew, the couple’s mentor saw his passion and offered him land and support to start the farming business they have today.
Related: Your Complete Guide to Starting and Growing a Garden
Courtesy of Megan Spelman
After accepting their mentor’s offer to use their land, Carreathers and Ward began growing produce to share at their community farmers’ market. “And just a few months after moving to Hawaii in early 2013, we founded our first Back to Nature business, the mantra that led us to farming,” says Carreathers.
They found their “why,” both personally and professionally, more than five years later. “In April 2018, after several years of strong growth and the birth of our daughter Aina, we renamed and founded Aina & Co Supply,” says Carreathers. Aina means “the land or land that she feeds”, which relates to her love for her daughter and Hawaii, and she served as a central pillar for her business.
Whether indoors or on acres, we should all experience the joy of growing not only our food, but ourselves. And loving the land as a family is the best way we know how.
Products of the earth
Carreathers and his team are dedicated to providing gardeners and farmers with the best organic produce on the market, which they also use themselves. “Our products are grown using our all-natural Neem products, which are wild-harvested and sourced directly from a high-quality distributor in India (also where the Neem tree is said to originate),” he says. Their neem oil and neem cake fertilizer are 100 percent neem with no additives; It is cold pressed and harvested in the wild. These products also help them control garden pests and create richer soil for healthier, more nutritious food.
Courtesy of Aina & Co.
Entrepreneurs look at the terrain when developing each product. “Everything we offer is inspired by nature,” says Carreathers. “Our products are grown in the richest natural soil because we care so much about what goes into the food we eat and provide.” They also sell name-brand clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics: “All of our bamboo clothing is sustainably sourced and made to order on our family farm!” she says.
plant the seeds
Carreathers hopes to bring visibility to their family’s lifestyle in a fun, fresh and up-close way and inspire others to consider their own environment, wherever they live. “Whether indoors or on acres, we should all experience the joy of growing not only our food, but ourselves,” says Carreathers. “And loving the land as a family is the best way we know how.”
Courtesy of Megan Spelman
If you’re growing your own business, Carreathers suggests leaning on your community. People are the gateway to more experience, resources and networking, all of which lead to success, she says. And he remembers: “Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch,” she says. “Let our history be an example. We didn’t fully ‘start’ our own farm business, but we made it our own.”
In the future, Carreathers and Ward want to acquire more land so they can continue to grow produce and support those around them. “Our future goals are to be better stewards of the land for the health and well-being of our family and community at large,” says Carreathers. “We always strive to continue our work in agriculture while developing better systems and products that allow us and others to do so more efficiently and effectively.”