Mohala, in the Hawaiian language means to blossom, bloom, shine, and to be free. I recently did this interview with Mohala Eyewear founder Ashley Johnson for her Evolving Elegantly Blog. I just love her mission of empowering girls in the world through education.
Every sunglass purchase sends a girl to school for one week!
You can help girls blossom and shine.
Mohala Eyewear is designed for women who value best-in-class quality, elegant design, and want to make a difference in the world by empowering girls.
Find out more here. All purchases on MohalaEyewear.com from now until July 23rd will also receive a few digital copy of my Deluxe album "Proud as the Sun"! Here's our interview!
Photo by Adam Jung for Modern Luxury Hawaii Magazine
I had a feeling I was going to love singer-songwriter Kimié Miner before we’d ever met. If you’ve been to a Kimié concert she has this light, strength and grace that touches every corner of the room. Her genuine appreciation for her audience, her relationships with her bandmates, and the raw joy she shares through her songs – draw people to her.
This is Kimié’s year. She is a four-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner including 2018 Female Vocalist of the Year. She also received Female Solo Artist of the Year at the Island Music Awards last month. A smart businesswoman, she also owns and manages the company Haku Collective – a full-service music, audio, and talent production group.
I was right. I absolutely adored her.
And have a feeling you will too, as she shares authentically and wisely about new motherhood, being a female entrepreneur, love and self-care.
What do you think is your life’s purpose and why?
To leave the world better. We are all gifted something that should not be held in. Our gifts are meant to be shared. For me it’s music. I really want to bring light, love and happiness to people. And if I can do that through my music then that is my life’s purpose.
What gave you the courage and confidence to become a recording artist and singer/songwriter?
A pivotal moment was getting up on stage and opening for Barrington Levy when I was 19 years old. I was always very nervous and shy to share my original music. During that moment I had to choose my passion over fear. I cared more about singing my song than about being scared. And at that moment, I knew being a performing artist is what I wanted to do.
Photo: Adam Jung
Tell me about a time in your career where you failed and how did you move forward from the situation?
I think I depended so much on other people to get me where I wanted to go and that was my epic fail. I created all this music and then was like here, I’d give it to someone else to produce. And then they didn’t meet my expectations, the songs kind of failed, I didn’t like how they turned out production wise. . . My fail was that I was relying on others and thinking they were going to make my career what I wanted it to be. And that never happened.
So I quit for a while, for 3-4 years I didn’t try to do anything. I didn’t record anything; I was still writing music because I couldn’t stop doing that, but I didn’t record it. I was like I don’t really care if I have a career in music. I was jaded. But then of course my passion kicked back in and I started doing music again; but I started depending on myself.
I found my own team that I trusted, and I worked alongside of, and I didn’t expect them to do everything for me. That’s when everything turned around. I took responsibility of how I was going to make a career in music happen for myself. In 2011, I started Kimié Miner Music. And I’ve been doing only music for the past 7 years. It’s writing, creating, recording, producing, publishing and then everything that happens after a song comes out. Some people say, ‘Oh you just sing?’ But there’s so much that goes into music. It’s a business.
Photo: Theresa Ang
What is a routine you do to manage stress and provide yourself with self-care?
I live far from town and my drive has become my time for me as the baby usually sleeps. I do conscious meditation; I focus on being present in the moment and not running through the to-do list in my mind. I focus on being fully aware and appreciating the beauty in the trees and ocean during the drive. I listen to podcasts and I write songs when I drive. I really use that time driving as a space for myself.
I also do a lot of gratitude. It really does change your day when you start with five things you’re grateful for. One thing I’m grateful for everyday is my daughter. I never knew love until I had her.
I use meditation apps and my favorite app is Calm. It changes everything if I just have ten minutes to myself, dedicated to meditation at the beginning of my day. It’s that important that I schedule it in the morning. I have an alarm that goes off the same time every day to remind me to meditate. Calm also has sleep stories that help put me to sleep. I have a hard time unwinding at night and if I think of something I’ll get up out of bed and go and do it. My boyfriend and the baby are passed out for hours and I’m lying there awake like what am I doing? It’s hard to turn my mind off and so the sleep stories on the Calm app really help.
I used to go to the gym every single day but since having ‘Ōmea (Kimié’s daughter) it’s been really hard and I’m trying to find a new routine. We go walking; she loves to go on walks and I love to be outside. We walk down the beach, to the store or to the post office. Yoga helps me a lot too as its very meditative and great to get stretches in while meditating.
Photo: Roxy Facer
What specific practice do you do to stay focused on your goals and move forward each day towards achieving them?
Definitely scheduling. I schedule everything as it helps me to prioritize. If it’s time sensitive, it gets moved up to the top of my list. I always set alarms. I use the reminders app for everything. It’s like my assistant. As soon as I agree to a meeting I schedule it in my calendar and send the person an email invite right away. Because how many times have you said, ‘Yea let’s do that’ and then you forget, and it never happens. I’m very aware that that is my weakness, so this helps me ensure it gets scheduled and it gets done.
I have three companies which really helps me to keep things organized and separated. Kimié Miner Music is the business for the rights and royalties for all my songs, Kimié Miner Live is for live performances, appearances, and merchandise and the last one is Haku Collective. Haku Collective is a company by artists for artists and we create music for film and television. We also do free mentoring for young aspiring songwriters and teach them how to make songwriting profitable and sustainable.
I do weekly calls for each company. We run through the pending items, long term goals and projects with each team. I make sure my team is very clear on the direction I want to go and what my goals are so when opportunities come up we are all in alignment. It took years to build this team but hiring the people and spending the money has been so worth it. As an example, I love editing videos. I was in video production in high school. But I’m a perfectionist so I would sit there for 8 hours editing a video. I don’t have that luxury anymore. Those days are done. So I started paying someone to edit my videos. Knowing what to delegate and what to keep is important. That’s the number one lesson I’ve learned since having the baby. It has gotten clearer what is worth saying yes to and what is worth saying no to.
The 2018 household is a new territory. How do you balance with your boyfriend caring for a newborn, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning?
It is so hard. And we are totally new parents. It’s not just physically a new thing its mentally and emotionally new and all our circuits are going full wire.
Maka (Kimié’s boyfriend) works long days during the week. He can be gone about 12 hours per day and when he comes home then he takes the baby, so I can get some work done. I work from home or wherever I am so I’m with the baby all day.
We are just living two working lives and then we have this baby that we are trying to figure out how to handle in the mix of it all. I’m totally the strap-the-baby-on Mom and ok here we go. She handles it so well. But I am conscious of that. I don’t go 2-3 days in a row. I try to set her up for success. Babies are awesome, and they can handle, but then only up to a certain point – and then they lose their shit. Then you’re like aww crap what did I do?
I was a nanny for seven years and I saw the gamut of babies who were fully on schedule and they were the best and I saw babies that had no schedule and they were the best. So, I think it’s more about the parent and what works best for the parent and the baby will figure it out.
I went back to work really fast like six weeks, but I had to because it was awards season. No one was going to do it for me. Now that it’s done I’m really enjoying this time. I forget I only had a baby four months ago and we still have so much to figure out as parents and we still don’t know what we are doing. How can we best communicate and be the best version of ourselves, so we can raise her well?
Maka is very family oriented. He was raised by a very supportive family. He already knows that role of being a supportive dad, being a loving father, and putting his family first. I love that. It amazes me to watch how awesome he is with her. He is a reflection of his family for sure. We have a text thread with his family that is just for praising the kids. It’ll be like ‘Look what so-and-so just won!’ and there’s a picture of a little kid with a trophy. It is so sweet. I know our daughter will be raised that way by him. He will be her biggest fan.
You have a demanding career that involves a lot of travel what decision process helps you most to balance work demands with having a healthy relationship/healthy family.
I would say I’m still learning that too. I am the type of woman who will stay up late working and I schedule a lot as I don’t want to miss an opportunity. I also realize that has gotten me to where I am today.
But now my reason for working is such a different reason than what it was a year ago. If my family isn’t benefiting from it, then I don’t want to do it. My time is so much more precious. I value every moment I’m with my daughter and I bring her with me everywhere. If I have to leave her I don’t want to do that unless it’s of value to my family. This has helped bring clarity to what is worth saying yes to and what to say no to.
It’s been a big shift for me. I’m very independent. I’ve lived on my own since I was 14. I went to Kamehameha Boarding School. In the 9th grade I moved into the dorms, right after high school I went to college, and I never lived with my parents again. I took out my own student loans for college and personal loans to buy cars or start my business.
Now I have a family and it’s changed my mindset so much. I’m learning how to switch my viewpoint to be more about what will benefit all of us. Just like saying no to things I used to love to do. Like after the awards show, instead of celebrating with my friends who went out, my boyfriend and I had a couple beers in our hotel room watching baby girl sleep. She has been the best award of the year. These awards mean nothing if I have no one to share it with. She is everything.
Photo: Brooklyn Hawaii
When you’re working you are working for your family. But there are moments where Maka or ‘Ōmea want your attention. How do you know when to stop working and give your attention to them?
I think many of us struggle with that as young entrepreneurial women because it’s our time and we want to take all these opportunities and these moments and make the most of them. But Maka is good and he calls me out on it if I’m taking it too far. He’ll say, ‘Stop right now look what you’re doing. We are sitting over here come sit with us.’ I love that about him because it’s important to have people in our lives to help us see that balance.
I’m literally going to start scheduling family time in. I watched Shonda Rhimes on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah and she shared how she was having all these galas and events and was always kissing her daughter goodbye. So she decided to include in her schedule time with her daughter. Before her gala she scheduled time to sit on the floor and play dolls with her daughter and she did that before getting ready and going to the big event.
I’m finding I have to start scheduling exercise and time with Maka in. It used to be when my boyfriend comes home I can stop working. But now when he comes home I get to give him the baby and start working. Which is where the nanny idea comes in to help me get work done during the day before he comes home. And the value of that is so priceless. Then we can sit out on the pūneʻe in the afternoon when the sun’s going down, it’s beautiful there, before I start working. I think I want to schedule this time to just sit on the lanai and be together and catch up on each other.
Sometimes the world seems to view having children as hurting a woman’s career. You and I both don’t agree with that. Can you share how becoming a mother has affected your career?
Last June I found out I was pregnant. The last 12 months have been honestly some of my best work. And I know it was because of my daughter. It was almost like her heartbeat gave me more creative juju. I had extra power going on inside of me creatively. She brought out something else. I had a dream, two years before I was pregnant, about a girl. When I found out I was really having that girl everything locked into place for me. I was already feeling empowered as a woman because I was older and wiser. I had set my intention the beginning of last year 2017 to say I want to have a baby and I got pregnant in six months. I totally believe in the power of intention. And so, the music I created was intentional as well. It was about being grateful, being a woman, being strong and wanting my daughter to know that and feel that and absorb all that energy. The music that came out of me embodied that. All of my videos were created by women. I had all these beautiful women and young girls in my videos, and it’s about that empowerment that I felt. I wanted my baby and other girls to feel this too.
And then I had her and then we got all the awards. I thought wow this is all because of her. It was really not a hindrance at all; it was the biggest blessing, the biggest joy.
I read Big Magic recently by Elizabeth Gilbert and she talks about how we are given these moments. There is a channel and if we open ourselves to it it’ll come through us. You can write a song in five minutes or a book quickly and think wow how did that happen? My baby was that channel. I was totally open to it and receptive to it and she poured all this stuff through me. I feel mamas all around the world can say the same. I’ve heard it from so many different moms about the amazing things they did while pregnant. It’s a blessing.
What is your favorite pair of Mohala shades and how would you style them?
The Mei in Black Lava. To me those are my I’m feeling sassy shades. I wear them with gold hoop earrings, my on a wing and a prayer jeans jacket and go to the studio to record. Or I throw on my Manaola dress and gold lens Mei's and I'm good to go! Click here to shop the Mei in Black Lava.