THE JOURNEY: FROM SYD > HNL
Born and raised in Sydney Australia, Founder + Creative Director, Marylea Ablen Conrad, traveled often. And a yearly stopover during Australia’s winter was Hawai‘i. Her mother worked for Qantas Airways, which took Conrad from New York, London, Rome, Asia, Canada and Paris. Through travels, Conrad expanded her love for art, design and nature, grasping unifying ideas through cultures, but there was no denying her attraction to the Islands.
While traveling, she focused on the completion of her Design Degree in Fashion & Textiles Design.
Fashion & Textiles: Design School
Conrad credits one source of her creativity and skills was developed through rigorous training at the University of Technology, Sydney. Here, she graduated along fellow classmates who now head leading Australian design firms. And so, Conrad finished her Design Degree graduating with First Class Honors.
Conrad’s training at design school was capped-off with a runway show by each graduating student. Her inspiration without surprise; “Hawai‘i.” The next day Conrad jumped on a plane to paradise and the rest was history.
[KI•ELE]’s Beginnings: in Hawai‘i
This love for Hawai‘i brought Conrad to the island of O‘ahu, where [KI•ELE]: Hawai‘i was soon born. The brand was named after her youngest daughter “Kiele,” pronounced [ki-eh-leh]; Hawaiian for gardenia and fragrant blossom.
[KI•ELE]: Hawai‘i then began with a line of handmade jewelry, made in the Islands, where the former owner of “Alliway” boutique in Ward Warehouse, Honolulu saw potential in the brand and took [KI•ELE] under its wing and into her boutique.
In 2008, the brand launched, although it wasn’t until 2011 when [KI•ELE] started to gain national attention after "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Magazine" models graced the pages wearing the brand’s personalized, “Classic Zayit Bar” necklaces.
In 2011, Nordstrom began carrying [KI•ELE] in its Hawai‘i location. And in 2016, Bloomingdale’s picked-up the jewelry to carry in their Ala Moana Center location. Today, [KI•ELE] on the other hand is growing and expanding its jewelry lines.
The jewelry features sustainable and quality, 14K gold-filled and recycled sterling silver metals that are also finished with the brand’s signature organic textures; incorporating natural elements, including freshwater pearls, faceted gemstones and seashells.
Conrad continues to strive to infuse her design roots into the brand. To this day [KI•ELE] has gained widespread popularity among locals throughout Hawai‘i and internationally in Japan, Australia, Canada and nationally through mainland U.S.A.
Recently, [KI•ELE] launched its Sustainable Apparel and Swimwear lines with a goal to encourage responsible shopping for our planet + ourselves too.
The Inspiration: Hawai‘i & Beyond
[KI•ELE]’s aim through design is to provide positive, good vibes with a longing for paradise, beachy and organic.
“At [KI•ELE] we want the customer to feel that you can shop a brand that will offer versatile, fun and quality jewelry at an accessible price. We also want to continue to offer unique pieces and relevant designs.”
“We want to share our love for Hawai‘i, and also importantly, share our desire to work towards a more Sustainable future with everyone and show how you can simply have fun in life and style your head-to-toe look in [KI•ELE],” says Conrad.
The Media Journey: Print & Online
: Locally from 2008 to 2022, [KI•ELE] was featured in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper, Island Family Magazine and LeiChic.com, HI Luxury, Honolulu Magazine, Ala Moana Magazine, ThisWeek Publications, a feature in Honolulu's MidWeek newspaper, Waikiki Magazine and 5t Business Magazine. Nationally/Internationally 2010, [KI•ELE] was featured in Oakley's Summer Ad campaign. In 2011, Japan's Aloha Express Magazine. And in 2011-2014 and 2016, [KI•ELE] graced the pages of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Magazine on cover girl models including Bar Refaeli and Kate Upton. In 2013 [KI•ELE]'s dainty necklaces were seen in Japan's JALPAK and Aloha Street online + the TODAY morning show. [KI•ELE]'s beach glass “Makapu‘u teardrop earrings” were also featured in Coastal Living Magazine.
In 2014 [KI•ELE] was named one of the Best Hawaii Jewelry companies by HAWAII Magazine.
[KI•ELE] has also been a sponsor of Miss Hawai‘i USA and Miss Miss Hawai‘i Teen USA. And in 2018, [KI•ELE]’S “Signature Lei necklace” was featured by the Editor-in-Chief, Laura Brown in “InStyle” magazine. Other features include “GMA — Good Morning America” and “The Zoe Report.”