The COOP Evolves: What’s New, and Why?

What's up with the changes at the Hawaii Fashion Incubator's COOP at Ward Warehouse? Here's a look.

The Hawaii Fashion Incubator (HIFI) COOP at Ward Warehouse has always provided a space in which individuals and groups were invited to collaborate, share, and develop their creative talents and skills.

The space evolves according to community and member needs, and its latest re-work features permanent anchor tenants as well as a shared workspace, classroom, and event space. The COOP continues to be ground zero for HIFI initiatives such as Hawaii Fashion Month, as well as community partners such as Goodwill, who uses the space for meetings and casting calls to support its annual fashion event, Goodwill Goes Glam!

In the COOP’s previous incarnation, half the space was devoted to retail. Consistent and growing demand for workspace and office space, combined with the relatively slower second-floor foot traffic, led HIFI Co-founders Melissa White and Toby Portner to reconfigure the space to benefit more users. Three anchor tenants have since taken root, along with a handful of regular users that access the space without a dedicated work area. The remainder of the space houses HIFI offices as well as a number of common areas that can be rented by members for trunk shows, workspace, events, and meetings.

The COOP’s anchor tenants are creative professionals with ties to the fashion industry. James Cave, editor for the arts and culture website, the Offsetter, and the editorial director for Hawaii Fashion Month, uses the COOP to write and work on projects, hold meetings, and conduct interviews. Others include Dyhana Leung of Face Art Beauty and Toko Sugaya, owner of Muumuu Rainbow, a clothing rental company specializing in Hawaiian dresses and muumuus.

“The HIFI people are like family to me, so it was a no brainer to join their space and continue to create a lot of stuff together,” he said.

“I really like the flexibility,” said Leung. “We can just come in, and it’s a convenient location.” Face Art Beauty uses the space for private hair and makeup appointments and to teach intimate, personalized makeup classes. Anchor tenants pay a monthly rate and have unlimited access to the COOP, a dedicated work area, and locker. They also have the opportunity to be featured on the HIFI website and newsletter, and host events in the space.

“The price is good and I did not need the space every day, so it worked perfectly for me,” Sugaya said. She uses the COOP to meet with local designers and customers as well as use the sewing equipment. Prior to being at the COOP, Sugaya delivered dresses directly to her customers’ hotels for showings as her clients are primarily tourists, but now, at the convenient spot, they can come to her. “The location was great. It looks like it attracts both locals and tourists. For tourists, trolley access was a big plus to me,” she said.

Regular users who do not need a dedicated workspace can sign up at a lower monthly fee to access the space and maintain a locker. It is also possible to rent the classroom, event space, or photo studio a la carte for a one-off event or booking. For those looking to host a larger catered event, the COOP has teamed up with Cookspace across the hall to provide a two-for-one package.

For more information on COOP rates or to see a current calendar, please visit hawaiifashion.org/rates.

CONTACT THE HIFI TEAM