Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
This year marks the five-year anniversary of Aina & Co Supply, a Kealakekua, Hawaii-based agricultural brand grounded in family that offers premier gardening and farming products. But just over a decade ago, owners Asia Carreathers, the COO and director of operations, and her husband, Adonis Ward, the CEO and president, were in a very different place—literally and figuratively. At the time, they were living in Detroit, Mich., and had recently welcomed a dog into their family. Shortly thereafter, their pup got sick; to remedy the issue, the pair switched their canine's cuisine to the cleanest option on the market.
In just a few short weeks, they noticed that their dog's coat dramatically changed for the better. "If food was the culprit to her health problems, then what did that mean about our food?" says Carreathers. "It encouraged us to look deeper into how food was affecting our quality of life." This also prompted her and her partner to start growing their own food and to make farming their lifestyle of choice.
That same year, Carreathers and Ward made another major life change. "We put in a transfer with our airline jobs to Hawaii, a tropical place where we could grow year round," she says. "We quickly realized that Hawaii was very expensive and the dream of having our own space to grow food would be more challenging than we thought."
Putting their faith in their soon-to-be community, they decided to post an advertisement on Craigslist that highlighted their hopes for housing and farming mentorship. The next day, their now-mentor Lindy Pounds, a local business owner and long-time farmer, replied after reading their story. "[She] was inspired by our dreams of growing and living more sustainably," says Carreathers. "Once being the largest lettuce producer on the Big Island, she offered us a space and opportunity to live and learn her way of life."
After teaching them everything she knew, the couple's mentor saw their passion and offered her land and support to start the farming business they have today.
After taking their mentor's offer to use her land, Carreathers and Ward began growing produce to share at their community farmers' market. "And just a few months after moving to Hawaii in early 2013, we founded our first business Back to Nature, the mantra that brought us into agriculture," says Carreathers.
They found their "why," both personally and professionally, over five years later. "In April of 2018, after several years of solid growth and the birth our daughter Aina, we rebranded and founded Aina & Co Supply," says Carreathers. Aina means "the land or the land which feeds," which tied into their love for their daughter and Hawaii—and served as a core pillar for their business.
Whether you are indoors or on acres, we all should experience the joy of growing not only our food, but ourselves. And loving the land with family is the best way we know how.
Products From the Earth
Carreathers and her team is dedicated to providing gardeners and farmers with the best organic products on the market, which they also use themselves. "Our produce is grown using our all-natural Neem products, which are wild harvested and sourced directly from a high-quality distributor in India (also where the Neem tree is said to originate)," she says. Their Neem Oil and Neem Cake Fertilizer are 100 percent Neem with no additives; it is cold-pressed and wild-harvested. These goods also help them control garden pests and create a more enriched soil for healthier, more nutritious food.
The business owners look to the land when developing every product. "Everything we provide is inspired by nature," says Carreathers. "Our produce is grown in the richest natural soil because we care a lot about what goes into the food we eat and provide." They also sell branded clothes made from earth-friendly fabrics: "All of our bamboo apparel is sustainably sourced and made to order on our family farm!" she says.
Planting the Seeds
Carreathers hopes to bring visibility to her family's lifestyle in a fun, fresh, and relatable way and inspire others to consider their own environment, wherever they live. "Whether you are indoors or on acres, we all should experience the joy of growing not only our food, but ourselves," says Carreathers. "And loving the land with family is the best way we know how."
If you are growing your own business, Carreathers suggests leaning into your community. People are the gateway to more experience, resources, and networks, all of which lead to success, she says. And remember: "Being an entrepreneur doesn't mean you have to start from scratch," she says. "Let our story be an example. We didn't completely 'start' our own farm business, but we did make it our own."
Moving forward, Carreathers and Ward want to acquire more land so they can continue to grow produce and support those around them. "Our future goals are to be better stewards of the land for the health and well-being of our family and broader community," says Carreathers. "We are always striving to continue our work in agriculture while developing better systems and products to allow us, and others, to do it with more efficiency and effectiveness."