Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vanessa Fiske, Founder of She Lives Aloha, located in San Jose, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our main product is a twice-a-year subscription box that curates the best from the Hawaiian Islands and allows you to taste, smell, and feel like you are back on vacation. Our customers are people who have lived on or visited the Hawaiian islands. Sixty percent of visitors to Hawaii have visited before.

Tell us about yourself

Aloha! I’m Vanessa, who fell in love with a print that said, “She Lives Aloha every day.” Born and raised in Silicon Valley, I have seen the best and the worst of a growing metropolis. This crowded, fast-paced area takes a lot out of individuals, and the technology that was supposed to make our lives better and more connected seems to do the opposite. Gone is spontaneity, replaced by overscheduled families and under-nurtured individuals. My escape is Hawaii, sometimes with family and sometimes with just the love of my life. Like most people, we don’t have unlimited vacation funds, and moving to Hawaii isn’t an option right now.

So, how do we keep the Aloha spirit going all year long? Over the last three years, we have become much clearer about what we want to bring to this world. We are working to grow She Lives Aloha into a lifestyle. Because we believe life isn’t meant to be merely survived, it’s meant to be lived. We want to be a company that encourages and uplifts people. My mission is to inspire everyone to be our best selves when we are away from Hawaii while supporting local artists and small businesses - and, ultimately, the Hawaiian economy.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Staying in business. This is our fourth year, and I have a core set of customers that have stayed with me the whole time.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Stepping away from your comfort zone. I’ve been a marketer my entire career, but running a business requires that you look at all aspects and not just focus on what you know best.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Build your email list, don’t depend on a social platform to keep your customers engaged.
  2. Know what your break-even point is, and don’t be afraid to make money.
  3. It’s okay to pivot—sometimes, it’s the next best idea that is the winner.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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