Kumu Kauila Kawelo
My Mom was a creative – oil painter, hula chanter, Hawaiian activist and a costume designer for Waikiki showgirls in the 60’s. Most of our clothes as kids were upscaled and classic Aloha wear, so fashion and style esthetics of the 60’s and 70’s happened early on in my life and so I took the same harvested concepts of esthetics and how to apply it to everything from my Mom.
I was cutting hair at 15 while boarding at Lahainaluna School on Maui. By the time I was a senior, I was cutting hair for my teachers, cafeteria ladies, football players, cheerleaders. I got scholarships, went immediately to beauty school. My freshman year in college, I got pulled onto the Revlon New York make-up team as a back-up assistant, but ended up doing most of the models because they introduced me to all the salon owners of Hawai’i. That’s how beauty school started for me, but fashion shows started at 18 with Hawai’s fashion icon, Allan Akina. By 19, I did my first layout in Vogue Magazine for Hanae Mori Couture photographed by Gil Gilbert. Many national magazines, tv commercials, fashion shows, celebrity entertainers later, I finally went freelance with a 9-year contract as a national make-up artist for Christian Dior cosmetics.
After 9 years of travel, I left my make-up career to study film writing at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, taking me into tv production with Food Network to style Mark Dacascos, Ricki Lake reality shows and then as script coordinator on Baywatch Hawai’i. That’s where I started working with Momoa. Years of film and television brought me back to Europe for an action film with Kelly Hu and then I was recruited by Shu Uemura make-up team for New York Fashion Week. Fashion was always a strong esthetics foundation in my life. Today, I’m the Hawaiian Cultural Esthetics Advisor for Jason Momoa’s Chief of War and the founder of Manta Studios management for stylists and talent!