The Planter Box Rooted in Faith
By Sarah Ching
Starting a business on Molokai has its share of challenges but when Leah-che and Ross Takashima chose to leave a stable career in order to see their business dream come to fruition, it required faith. The Planter Box, in the location of the former Simply Natural in Kaunakakai, is a new business on the block featuring custom coffee, local produce and natural products.
“We prayed a lot,” the couple said of the big step. “We prayed about this opportunity, we prayed when making any kind of decisions.”
When Ross chose to leave the stability of his job in order to fully help in the business they admit it was scary. But when the opportunity to purchase Simply Natural became a reality in February of this year, they couldn’t say no Once they made the decision to purchase, the Takashimas saw this as a way to make a change and give back to the community that they grew up in.
Both born and raised on Molokai, they said they know how important it is to provide options as well as offering a variety of unique items in order to set their business apart. For The Planter Box, it’s their custom roast premium coffee. They work exclusively with a custom roaster who prepares their coffee beans to their unique specifications, and each coffee comes with its own unique story.
After graduating from Molokai High School in 2002 and 2003, Leah-che and Ross married and moved to Portland, Oregon, where they enjoyed hanging out at the local coffee shops.
“We learned so much about coffee while living on the mainland and wanted to bring some of that knowledge and that atmosphere back home,” said Ross.
While their coffee is unique, healthy food alternatives is their primary focus. Recognizing that local supply and demand often changes, they welcome feedback, suggestions or requests and try to meet every shoppers needs.
“We try to be sensitive to those that have specific dietary restrictions or those that are choosing to live a healthier lifestyle,” they said. “It’s also educating us in the process as far as what organic really means, and what specifically to look for when we are placing orders.”
Partnering with Sustainable Molokai and Barking Deer farms, they bring in organic produce that is sourced right here on Molokai. They work with Molokai Livestock Cooperative to offer different cuts of meat that are not always available at local grocers. They also have a supplement supply that continues to grow, as well as an organic beauty line.
“We really only have space for what people want and want to make sure we are catering to that,” said Ross. “Feedback is key and helps us in our ordering process.”
Learning about different food options from their customers often comes full circle with their young children also benefitting from their healthy eating alternatives that they provide. Networking with people who share their vision and also want to better the community by sharing the gift of health and providing Molokai people with Molokai products, they say, is also rewarding.
“We are providing for our community and giving back in the best way we know how,” the couple said.
They said they are hoping to renovate their space by making it more contemporary while seeing their local produce expand, using their faith as a guide.
For those who would like to say “aloha” to the Takashimas, swing by The Planter Box, located next to Sundown Deli, Monday thru Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also follow them on Facebook @theplanterboxkkai or theplanterbox.com.