Images and Text by Kai Casey
The North Shore of Oahu is infamous for its swells, sandy beaches, and traffic, but it’s also known for its sense of community. The people that call this place home are passionate about their respective crafts while also providing services for their hometown. Two individuals who are adamant in serving the community through their local business are Nancy and April Woolley. With 25 years of experience between the dynamic duo, Nancy and April own and run a local children’s boutique named Tini Manini. Located in Haleiwa, they specialize in one-of-a-kind children’s goods, just as unique as the child. April and Nancy describe their space as providing, “items created by people we love, for people we love.” Contrast sat down with the dynamic duo to talk about the stylish shop for keiki clothing.
Kai: How would you describe Tini Manini and the products you sell?
April: Tini Manini was started by creative people. Almost everything we carry is made locally. We like to support the stay-at-home parent/artisan who’s looking to put out quality goods. We like to think as Tini Manini as a stepping point for these individuals to share their products with Haleiwa and the broader community, local or international. If it’s not made in Hawai’i, we strive for the products to be made in the U.S. We carry surfboards from a local shaper located on the North Shore, Nat Woolley. Items created by people we love, for people we love.
Nancy: Tini Manini is a children’s boutique that is an extension of mindful living for both ourselves and our children. It is a reflection of our own beliefs in the importance of the innocence of our babies and our young children. We are sharing this by offering products that encourage the imagination, the artisan in all of us, quiet play and quiet time, and unique locally made items that are useful and creative.
How did the physical space come about?
A: The creation of the physical store just happened organically. It was one of those things where everything fell into place. We have local artists, the Woolley Brothers produce and design all of our t-shirts. The art you can find displayed in the store can also be found printed on t-shirts. Each t-shirt is individual in its printing, dyeing, and overall look, so what you get is a one-of-a-kind wearable art piece. The store is filled with these kinds of things; original, unique, and interesting pieces of art that can be worn by children. People in there 20’s and 30’s are now having kids, and want their children to wear unique children clothing. We give them the opportunity to see this desire come to fruition.
What was the inspiration for creating Tini Manini?
N: The inspiration came from an idea of how each of us could use our talents and contribute to our own business as well as be a benefit to our community.
A: The inspiration for Tini Manini came from our love of children. We dreamed of creating a space where both local artisans and children could flourish. My business partner Nancy has over 25 years of retail experience in the children world. I have about 10. The space became available, so we decided to give it a shot. It grew quickly and organically from there. The space is always kind of changing, due to the constant flow of new products, so the store seems fresh and new after coming back from the first visit.
What are some of the benefits of being a small business located in Haleiwa?’
A: There are many. All of the owners of the businesses that surround us are from the North Shore, myself included. It’s pretty cool to be able to open a business located in the area you grew up in. People come in and remember us as children, and it’s great to see that kind of vibe in Haleiwa. Haleiwa has a perfect mixture of people who visit from the mainland and internationally, and a large local demographic. I think in recent years people have been striving to shop local, so it’s perfect for us; local kids producing local products for the community.
N: One of the biggest benefits of being a small store in Haleiwa, is we are our own bosses in a town that is on an up growth spurt. We manage our own inventory and because we are small, and buy locally, we are able to fulfill the demands of our customers needs. We are able to stay in touch with every angle of our shop, as it is only the five owners who run the business. It stays simple and clear.
Where do you find the products you feature in Tini Manini?
A: A lot of our products are originals. We find these artists at craft fairs, online marketplaces, and most of all, people who just come in and show us the beautiful things they create. We even have products in the store created by people who have never ventured into the world of children’s goods. We’ve found that artists lack a venue in which to sell their goods or can’t sell it themselves, and this is where we can come in and be the voice for them. Haleiwa itself is the perfect kind of platform for these kinds of things.
N: We find the products we feature at local craft fairs, local artist venues, looking thru artistic websites and looking inside children’s collars to see their labels! We ask crafters and sewers and stay at home moms to show us their wares. It is really fun.
Is there a cohesive aesthetic to all of the products you sell?
A: Everything is quality. Everything is well made. Everything will not only last for your child or grandchild, it’ll be a hand-me-down for future children. It will act as a memory for our store, Haleiwa, and Hawai’i in general. It’s something different from what you can find at a normal, big-box, children’s department store. This is wearable and functional art. These products are special reminders of the island.
N: The cohesiveness could best be described as this: we try and feature all the handmade products that we can. We wanted to support local artisans, and in doing so we have found that we are actually supporting a large number of mothers, who have a passion to create, but want to stay at home with their children. They care about family, they care about quality, they care that their work represents who they are, and what they believe in….and that is exactly what we care about also. So we have found an avenue to share common beliefs while presenting a win, win, win situation. The artist wins by being paid for their passion, we win because we have a product that we believe in so we can sell honestly, and the customer wins because they get the quality and the specialness that they seek.
Where do you see Tini Manini in the future?
A: It’s a blessing to be open within in the next three, five, or however many years. Every day open is a blessing. I would only hope that we would be a better-known staple of Haleiwa. Continuing to grow, ultimately, whether that means online retail, or expanding our brand and the one-of-a-kind goods. We would also like to continue finding new artists and individuals who create fabulous pieces that we can carry. Ultimately, to continue to bring happiness to families.
N: Where do I see Tini Manini in five years? Right where it is…God willing…with perhaps an online presence, a full usable web page, and perhaps a vision for supporting our families.