Founder & Owner of haul2hi
One of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center Certification Training Cohort 2 participants and is in the final stages of getting her business certified with the City and County. Jane is looking to grow her business in new revenue and ways to use her marketing skills to give back to the community.
Jane Murao, founder and owner of haul2hi, was a participant in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center Certification Cohort 2 from February to April 2021. Jane is a multi-ethnic woman and identifies as Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Dutch. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Chaminade University, where gained numerous amounts of work experience and networked to create relationships that have helped her business growth. This eventually led to a 10-year career with the Hawai’i Council of Humanities and she was in charge of the education program, Hawai’i History Day. After leaving the non-profit realm, she was ready to try and turn her idea into a reality, thus creating haul2hi.
haul2hi is a personal shopping shipping service/logistics company specializing in Ikea furniture. In addition to providing shipping services for customers, they also hold consultations to help fulfill customers’ needs. haul2hi has showrooms available with staged Ikea furniture for potential customers to view prior to ordering. Due to Ikea not having a location here in Hawai’i, it was an opportunity to provide a physical outlet and access to the IKEA brand for the Hawaii consumer. Jane expressed that this was just a mere idea between her and her husband after going to Maryland for her job with the Hawai’i Council of Humanities.
“While at the non-profit, I was required to travel to Maryland and would often stay in a hotel across from a large Ikea store in College Park. Each time, I would make several shopping trips into the IKEA store and I would buy as many things as I could fit into my suitcase to bring home with me. That’s kind of where this idea of starting a company like haul2hi bloomed for me. It’s based on my interest in a brand not easily accessible here in Hawai’i. And at the time my husband and I were in our 20s, living in a studio, and we couldn’t find furniture locally that would fit our living space or budget…What I did for the non-profits was technically logistics and I enjoyed helping people! I love making the impossible happen. After 10 years in the non-profit world, I felt it was time to take a leap of faith and start haul2hi! At first, it was a side project but this year will mark our 8th anniversary!” –Jane Murao, Founder & Owner, haul2hi
Jane often finds herself wanting to try new innovations to grow her business, whether it be through looking for more knowledge and skills for the company or ways to provide a social give back to the community. “The beginning was easy because organically people were excited because it’s Ikea! And with already having that brand recognition because we’re piggy-backing off of a huge household name, it was a kick starter for sure… But there is just so much to learn about running a successful business, I am considering going back to Chaminade to get my MBA!”. Jane is always looking at the future and the bigger picture. With being located in Chinatown, one of the more diverse and urban parts of Hawai’i, she mentions how much she’s evaluated what kind of an impact she wants to make on the larger community.
“For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do more to give back more to our community. Here at haul2hi, we are focused on serving the people of Hawaii by empowering them to increase their quality of life through organization and by providing them access to affordable and functional furniture. Hawai’i is such a special place and we need to take care of it! I’m not sure exactly how just yet, but I would love to help an organization that empowers women, preferably mothers… Being a mother of 2 daughters plays a significant role in wanting to pursue this because I want to encourage them to be the change and to be engaged in their community.” –Jane Murao
A part of Jane’s desire to grow, she couldn’t help but feel excited and say, “Why not go for it? What’s the worst that can happen from trying?” after hearing about the MBDA EWOC Business Center’s Certification Cohort 2. Jane heard about this opportunity from her business neighbor and friend, Camille Heung, owner of Valia Honolulu. “I first heard about this opportunity from my friend Camile Heung, who also was a participant of the Cohort 2. She encouraged me to join and participate as well!”. This is something Jane wanted to go for as well because of the challenges Haul2Hi continued and began to experience. From the limited space of her business to experiencing aftereffects from the pandemic, Jane expresses how perfect this was for her to add to her tool kit as well.
“Because we are in the shipping business, being located in the Pacific Ocean, and living during an era where people want things instantaneously meaning fast, and free, we are faced with the challenge of getting our customers to understand the value and quality we bring to the table… With the COVID-19 pandemic, supply and demand were challenges for us because of the long delays and the shortages of resources. However, most of our customers were understanding taking into consideration the timing of shipments. I admire many other local businesses because they’ve taken the opportunity, both good and bad to pivot and be creative. It’s truly inspiring for me to see so many local businesses thriving. Which is why I was inspired by this cohort experience…” –Jane Murao
After completing the Certification Cohort 2, Jane felt that this was something valuable to her and all women business owners here in Hawai’i. Furthermore, she felt confident that with this eye-opening experience, there was a lot of knowledge and skills gained. “I took away that there are many opportunities for women-owned businesses and so many opportunities that we aren’t made aware of. It just puts things into perspective and enables us to focus on the internal things of our business to succeed and grow… The most helpful part for me was the panel of experts at the end where we could ask questions and get some answers on things, we were unsure of…”.
haul2hi is now in the final stages of getting certified with the City and County! With these new credentials, Jane feels that her goals for the future are now, and she knows how to achieve them.
“This experience was valuable for sure! It was a push to get my things in order because you do need to evaluate your business internally before moving forward in your journey. Most importantly, you need to become an advocate for yourself as a business owner. I think culturally, especially for many women here in Hawai’i, we sell ourselves short and don’t advocate for ourselves. This in itself pushed me out of my comfort zone to get things done!... Because of how much I believe in this cohort, I share it with every women-business owner I interact with because it’s just too valuable to pass up”.
Moreover, haul2hi continues its journey to continue helping customers and looking past the challenges they’ve run into because it has been so rewarding to see the impact of their service on their clients.
“The goal is to grow our team, increase business, and continue helping people with their furniture challenges…Although things aren’t ideal right now, there are some things we are grateful for in terms of business. We’ve talked about how we’ve never been busier than we are now in terms of inquiry and it’s because of our mission. People are spending more time at home and they want to improve their quality of life. I love helping people figure out their problems with getting organized or choosing furniture pieces. Their excitement makes me so happy! I stand by Ikea furniture because it’s well priced functional, has great design, and it’s great for organization!”. –Jane Murao
Jane leaves a piece of advice to women business owners:
“Never give up, especially when things are most challenging! Be open to new opportunities and never stop learning! And I think most importantly always be true to yourself and your business!” – Jane Murao