Posted on January 12, 2024
When Craig Villarrubia and Mike Amato moved to the Big Island 30 years ago, their plans did not include building a brand of Koa wood jewelry and decor or opening retail stores altogether.
When they purchased the 200-acre plot of land in Pa'auilo on the Island of Hawai'i, their plan was to semi-retire and start a cattle ranch. The remote plot they purchased had been untouched for over 30 years and was so densely overgrown with invasive plants that they couldn’t access much of the property before purchase.
Craig and Mike set out to clear some of the land to make it suitable for grazing and to build fencing to keep out the wild pigs and came to the surprising realization that the land they purchased was a once a thriving Koa tree forest that still had a considerable amount of large trees. Upon this realization, they pivoted away from the idea of a cattle ranch and dedicated their efforts to reforestation and building a healthy native habitat.
To fund the restoration process, Mike purchased machinery to mill the dead Koa trees they removed, and they started selling the lumber on eBay. Eventually, Craig was gifted a lathe, and over time, he taught himself how to make jewelry and small home furnishings with the Koa wood.
With a background in retail and a growing inventory of Koa wood items, Craig eventually opened the first KoaWood Ranch store. The store was an instant success, and they soon outgrew the space and opened a larger store in Kailua-Kona.
Over time, they found their customers were largely tourists who were seeking products that represented and symbolized their experience in Hawai'i, which led to a decision to grow the offering to include more than just Koa wood products.
When curating that collection of products, they identified they needed a classic Aloha shirt, and that is how they started to carry Reyn Spooner. They started with men's Aloha shirts and soon expanded to carry the women's line of tops and dresses.
Today, they operate two stores in Hawai'i - one in Kailua-Kona and a brand-new location in Waikiki in the International Marketplace. We encourage you to visit them to check out their beautiful Koa wood items or pick up a new Aloha shirt!
Follow: @koawoodranch | Shop online: https://koawoodranch.com