The ‘Be Aloha’ spotlight series shares the stories of our Hawai'i community through the lens of its people as captured by Kenna Reed. Get to know the artisans, community leaders, small business owners, and advocates of Hawai'i as we uncover the aloha they wish to see in the world. All imagery credited to KENNA REED.
Creative Director. Design educator. Artist. Community leader. Mother. Changemaker.
Meet: Pag-ibig Ara Laylo
Pag-ibig Ara Laylo has been at the forefront of the contemporary art, design and creative community in Hawaiʻi for nearly two decades. A multifaceted changemaker with a deep commitment to Hawaiʻi, Laylo kicks off our 2021 Be Aloha spotlight series. Check out our interview with her to learn about where she finds inspiration, what excites her about the next generation of creatives and get her recommendations on some of the best eats and shops in urban Honolulu.
Born & raised: Born in the Philippines and moved to Hawai‘i in 1997
Currently reside: Chinatown
Occupation/titles: Creative Director for NMG Network, Design Lecturer at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Art Department, Hawaiʻi Contemporary board member
IG handle(s): @aralaylo @hawaiicontemporary @ategallery
Location of shoot: BoxJelly
You are the ultimate multihyphenate - creative director, designer, educator, artist, gallerist, and Hawaiʻi Contemporary board member, plus a mama! What inspires you to do all that you do?
Yes, I am all of the above. I do wonder if I would've been a continued disappointment to myself if not for my daughter. Often I imagine my legacy, with their infinite technology looking back, rewinding their archives, watching me on their wireless screens and learning their history. Put in that context, it does remind me to reorient my values when I make mistakes. How can I make my legacy proud?
You teach at the University of Hawaiʻi - what excites you most about the next generation of creatives here in Hawaiʻi?
What excites me about the next generation here in Hawai‘i is that we (speaking for myself as a settler) are learning and relearning that Hawaiians have solutions to survive on this planet. All the problems are here: climate change, food insecurities, wealth inequalities, home insecurities. The solutions are here, too, if we pay attention. We have to listen to kānaka and follow their lead then look at the needs of the world and speak to the change the planet demands. Yes, this excites me.
As the (un)official style queen of Honolulu and muse to many, where are your favorite shopping haunts?
My friend and brother from another mother, John Esguerra and his partner, my stylist, Justin Nakasone have opened the most amazing vintage store called Single Double on Nu‘uanu where you can find the most unique Hawai‘i inspired finds. I found the sassiest red bandana fabric cotton dress on my last visit. Always follow the shop with the best curation of goods. This boutique definitely has the eye!
What’s the last book you read?
I'm currently reading Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn, purchased at Arts & Letters on Nu‘uanu.
Favorite takeout or restaurants?
We are so spoiled in Honolulu and fortunate enough to have intimate relationships with my favorite restaurants namely: Fête (lol also on Nu‘uanu,) coffee from Morning Glass, and goodness I'm so excited about the new Piggy Smalls menu!
What does “be aloha” mean to you?
I am in solidarity and sympathy towards the work of Native Hawaiians as a sympathetic settler and will do my best to support my local community with all the resources I can extend and share. I will pass down these values to Ada.
Shaka Tea is thrilled to support the inaugural Hawaiʻi Contemporary Art Summit 2021, which Laylo is a board member of. Learn more and register for this FREE, virtual event taking place February 10-13, 2021 by clicking here.