Total loan: $8,000


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Oakland, CA, United States / Arts

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A loan helped secure a workshop space, supplies, and equipment for our lei makers in East Oakland.

Tiffany's story

Greetings Kiva Lenders! I was born on the island of Guahan (Guam) to a native Chamorrita and Filipino contract laborer. My family island-hopped from Guam to Hawai’i and settled in Washington State, where my mother died, before settling in east Oakland, California. My mother’s passing temporarily severed my connection to my culture. My elderly father could not afford to take us to Guam. The cost of childcare forced him to quit his job to care for us. He opened an autobody shop, where, to save money, we lived among the cars, grease, and paint fumes. Even in these hard times, my father always made sure to remind us of who we were: Pacific Islanders. He immersed us in our culture, bringing us faithfully to our local, primarily Samoan, church. This is where my siblings and I gained exposure to our Pacific Island heritage through dance and the arts, including lei making. Fast forward to 2014. After a long career in public health, in which every single client I ever had told me that one of their greatest barriers to health was the inability to fully participate in the economy, I decided to become a job creator. I enrolled in an MBA program dedicated to regenerating the planetary and cultural commons in which lei making is situated as both an ecological and cultural endeavor. Lei Company Cooperative, Inc.’s dream is three-fold: To reclaim the sacredness of lei-making, re-sacrilizing it as a profession, and increasing the monetary and cultural value of leis. As a worker-owned cooperative, our second dream is to create franchises in areas with substantial Pacific Islander communities. Third is to implement a 100-year business plan, in which we can dive deeply into our supply chain, and maybe even begin sourcing materials from our home islands.