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Our Story + Mission


"Founded in the dead of the Chicago winter in January of 2018, Makai started out as a distant vision."
It's January, 2018, I had just touched down at O'Hare airport in Chicago. The temperature was a frigid 10 degrees below zero. 
I had just returned from an island where sunny warm weather was a year round norm. A place where palms swayed in the breeze, waves crashed against the shore, and the people spread love. 
That place was Hawai'i.
One of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide, Hawai'i sees visitors from around the world. It is best known for its picturesque landscape, seemingly untouched by civilization, lost in time. While I was visiting the islands to escape the chaos of everyday life, I found a little more than leafy greens and ocean. 
I found nature untouched.
While visiting the big island with my husband, we had the incredible opportunity to swim with the marine life and snorkel through the vast coral reefs that dotted the coast. The sights were breathtaking. There were more species of fish than I could count! The fish came in all shapes and sizes, sporting glowing colors one would have to see to believe. I was mesmerized and awed by the scenes.
During a point on the trip, the guides stopped the boat to show us some unnaturally white coral. I was not sure why the coral reef had such a ghostly glow to it. When the guides told me that these coral reefs were victim of coral bleaching and were endangered, my stomach dropped. I almost threw up over the side of the boat.
This is a photo of the phenomenon known as coral bleaching. When water is too warm, coral expel an algae called zooxanthellae. This particular algae causes the coral to turn a bleach white as pictured above. Although coral can survive the bleaching event, it puts them under greater stress making them more easily exposed to mortality. Coral bleaching is mostly attributed to manmade chemical runoff and unhealthily warm waters.
Learning of this upset me, but it also inspired me. 
The following week, I started Makai Bracelets with a purpose:
to protect our coral reefs.
First launched in January of 2018, we began with just a few items in the store. Over the past two years of business, we have grown into more than I could have ever possibly imagined!
Today, I'm proud to say that today we have 40+ item options in our store, all sourced from artisans around the world. 
Our mission at Makai is to protect. We believe that our oceans are best left untouched, so that we may have the privilege of observing their beautiful reefs in a natural state. That is why we are donating a portion of all profits towards preserving our coral reefs worldwide :)
We donate towards efforts aimed at conserving coral reefs in Hawai'i, Fiji, Indonesia, and the Mesoamerican Region.
By spreading the Hawaiian culture and values through Makai, we can protect our reefs before it's too late. Let's protect them together.
Leslie :)
Makai's Founder