In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.

At a glance

Founder: Joelle Holland

Business: Hawaiiki Pepi

Founded: 2022

HQ: Auckland

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Hawaiiki Pepi is a Māori owned Pakihi (business) that creates Māori designed products for Pēpi (baby). We aim to enhance Identity, Whakapapa, Pepeha through our products and in turn create strong, confident and proud Māori. Identity for me has always been very important and I want my own children to stand true in theirs. Every single design tells a story and is a representation of the people we are. 

One thing I think is very important is the connection our whānau feel to Te Ao Māori when wrapping their Pepi in our products. Every single one of our products are made of the highest quality and carefully thought out. Each design is created specifically to tell a story and fit the product at hand. Every single design we have created is one of a kind and custom to Hawaiiki Pepi. Everything I do always leads back to my whānau, people and Te Ao Māori.

We currently have Playmats, Mink Blankets, Muslin Wraps, Knitted Blankets and Dummy Clips and are working towards expanding our product range. At this stage we are only online but hope to move into our own warehouse one day.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

The Dream:

In the first year of University I was working and studying full time and I also fell pregnant with my first baby Ivy-aio. I started searching for Māori designed products, I noticed a gap in the market and a lack of culturally designed products available. This is when the thought, or should I say the dream of Hawaiiki Pepi was first established. I wanted to create products that I could wrap my own baby in. I pondered on the thought of starting a business and realised if I work extremely hard and made some big decisions I could make this dream come true. 

After months and months of research we decided to invest all of our savings into starting Hawaiiki Pepi. This was one of scariest financial, emotional and mental decisions we had ever made. The drive to create a better life for my children and my people kept me going and is the reason why we are thriving one year into business.

What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?

  • I have used Shopify which is perfect beginner friendly platform for ecommerce businesses. This allowed me to create by own website and had great customer support as well. 
  • For shipping purposes, I used GO Sweet Spot which is a third-party freight company that integrates perfectly with Shopify to allow a seamless process for myself and my customers. 
  • Creating Hawaiiki Pepi has been extremely hard, I have shed many tears and had so many breakdowns while on this journey. I am still working full time and fitting in everything I can to gain exposure for our business. I am very restricted with so little time and raising my children as best as I can. I am dreaming of the day I can make Hawaiiki Pepi my full-time job, I can have more free time to be present with my children and also be financially stable.
  • The growth present in this first year of business has been beautiful, although we had ups and downs, I know working hard and putting my head down now will be the ultimate sacrifice for a beautiful life and future for my children.


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