KIT (ZULUETA) FURUKAWA
Owner, Kit Zulueta Productions, LLC
Contracted with the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center as a graphic designer
Kit (Zulueta) Furukawa is an active community member, marketer, and entrepreneur. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Hawaii in 2008 to find a job, leaving behind her family. “I set out to explore and experience the world,” she explained, noting that her journey eventually led to a career in government with the County of Maui and University of Hawaii, Maui College.
As an immigrant, Kit has faced some challenges. She recalls microaggressions in job interviews, “How come you speak good English?” by employers who questioned credentials and skills she listed on her resumé. Reflecting on these experiences, Kit said, “It was incorrect to feel offended, and I took that opportunity to explain. There’s still a lot of education that needs to happen and it’s become my mission to become involved in the community and promote Filipino culture and values. We’re known as the invisible community. We’re huge in numbers—the largest Asian ethnic group in Hawaii—yet it still feels like we’re not quite represented in government, media, et cetera. It’s changing now though. We’re seeing Filipino culture more in mainstream media, like food, for example, everything’s ube. It’s a joy to see that momentum.”
Kit started her business, Kit Zulueta Productions, LLC, in 2009, and began dedicating herself to it full-time in 2019. The company’s services include newsletters, social media, public relations, graphic design, photography, videography, and event planning. Although she considers it the riskiest step she’s taken, leaving stable employment has come with the biggest rewards. “My mental health is so happy ever since,” she said. “I enjoy being on my own time, my own pace. I find myself becoming busier, getting more involved, and pursuing more goals and dreams.”
Today, Kit is a proud member of organizations like the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce and Filipino Young Leaders Program, just to name a few. She also credits her work experience as a critical component to launching her entrepreneurial career, helping her to become more knowledgeable, competent, and politically astute when working with others.
“The clients who I work with are folks that I’ve built relationships with over the years,” Kit explained. “When I work with a client, it’s because they know that I understand what their goals are. When I take on a client, it’s like finding your partner—you have to match. When I work with my clients, it’s with the understanding that they don’t have to supervise me as much because I understand their needs. I just deliver and try to build a good reputation with my work.”
The MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center connected with Kit through another contractor and hired her for graphic design services. “I knew about YWCA in the past, but I only did a deep dive when I got involved,” Kit shared. “YWCA has so many great programs for entrepreneurs and women that everyone should know about. I’m so impressed and so excited that I’m involved somehow. I’m telling my peers to apply.”
In addition to her consultancy, Kit also co-owns and operates Mystery Maui Escape Room and Maui Chili Chili Oil with her husband, Deron. Her goal is to grow both companies to a point where they’re sustainable enough that she can hire a manager to run them and she’s able to travel more. Kit is excited and hopeful, knowing that all of this wouldn’t be possible if she were working elsewhere.
To her fellow women entrepreneurs and small business owners, Kit offers the following advice: “With my story, there’s always been two forces that drive me forward–luck and hard work. One is something you have full control of. Hard work is the amount of effort you put in to be competent and reliable in your craft. Meanwhile, luck requires some gut intuition to read your environment and your support network, such as the stars aligning or a higher being that guides you on proper timing. With some optimism and the right attitude, things will always fall into place.”