Kathy Inkinen & Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara

Mom Pursuits

Like mother, like daughter? Perhaps. But whether following footsteps or deviating just a tad, there’s something familial when it comes to these ladies and the women who raised them.

Legacy. Tradition. Family.
While continuing traditions is certainly not exclusive to the islands, these three sets of women have flourished in the same professional path as their mothers. From hula mavens to interior design gurus to business execs, get a glimpse into how they make it work and keep it all in the family…

Mary Philpotts McGrath & Marion Philpotts Miller

One of the most important gifts Marion Philpotts miller has received from her mom? “to really look at the location and really respect the culture,” she says. “Because that’s what good design is-it’s about interpreting that environment; interpret them in a way that makes sense to that culture.”

Here in Hawai’i, the name Philpotts is synonymous with interior design. Since the ’60s, Mary Philpotts McGrath has sought out to fabricate stunning atmospheres without compromising the culture that surrounds each setting. Interior design has come a long way since then-and the Philpotts’ have not only kept up with the sign of the times, but continue to lead the way by maintaining their creative vision in a disciplined business environment.

Whether it was nature or nurture, daughter Marion shares here mother’s affinity for design. Though she pursued ballet seriously for a time, she eventually decided to look into interior design – without any pressure from Mary. Marion shares, “It wasn’t obligatory-wanting to carry on my mom’s legacy-but I had to do it on my own in San Francisco first. I didn’t want to be entitled and just move back and go in without earning it.”

After spending two decades on the West Coast, Marion and her family came home at last. Currently, mother and daughter (as well as other members of the clan) work together but independently-they each have their separate projects-and share a mutual respect for each other’s work.

Marion adds to her list of aspirations: “I’d like to be doing what [Mary’s] doing-playing in the stores and having fun and shopping the world for countless artifacts. I want to be her. I guess I’ve said that my whole life. But there are big shoes to fill.”

Kathy Inkinen & Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara

Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara meets Kathy Inkinen at her pauahi tower offices downtown. a lunch date perhaps? Though the mother-daughter duo have probably “done lunch” on more than one occasion, this time, Kathy’s scoping out the space for her future offices. The younger Inkinen is owner of Remedy Intelligent Staffing here in Hawai’i-a full service staffing agency- and starting this month, will start operating in the same building as mom Kathy’s executive search firm, Inkinen & Associates. And while these ladies both work in the human resources field, their companies are considerably different.

For the past 22 years, Kathy’s Inkinen & Associates has played matchmaker for some of Hawai’i’s top companies, pairing them with ideal executive and middle management candidates. “We’re one of the few [executive search firms] who concentrate on higher management for all industries.”

Kristi, on the other hand, compliments her mother’s company by providing active job seekers with entry-level to mid-level employment opportunities. Acquiring the Hawai’i franchise in 2001, Kristi has successfully turned Remedy Intelligent Staffing into one of the most reputable staffing agencies in town.

But HR as a career wasn’t always on Kristi’s life plan. In fact, she majored in marketing in college hoping to become a PR exec. Disappointed by the lack of opportunities back then, she quickly reassessed and came up with a new plan: entering mom’s field without necessarily joining mom. She shares, “Working with my mom was an obvious [choice]. But I think being an only child from a single-parent home in which my mother and I were quite close all these years, we have that love-hate kind of relationship (laughs)-it probably wouldn’t have been wise to work directly with [my mom] straight away. So instead, Kristi decided to venture into something similar to what Kathy does, but indirectly.

With a combined experience of 35 years between the two of them, it is both timely and apropos that their two companies will now function under one roof. But like their personal relationship, their business relationship will continue to be complementary yet independent.

Kathy says, “I think we can learn from each other more going forward, since we will be together…”

Aloha Dalire, Kapua Dalire-Moe & Kili Lai

Kapua Dalire-Moe and her daughter, kili lai, glide into the studio for halau ka liko pua o kalaniakea with a grace that belies their years immersed in hula. Groomed for her role as kumu of the halau since she was a girl, Kapua is clearly in charge.

“I have been dancing my entire life,” she says. It’s a common refrain you’ll hear from the ladies of this talented family.

When Kapua’s mother, Aloha Dalire, arrives, it’s as if the room’s gravitational pull shifts to the elder Dalire.

The matriarch of her family, Aloha Dalire has hula is in her blood.

“I’m actually the seventh generation in my family,” she explains. “My daughters are the eighth. Kili will be the ninth in the line of teaching hula.”

Aloha, her daughters and granddaughters grew up around hula. “I believe my mom smiles down on them every day; because I’m going to be honest: In my growing-up years … I hated hula,” Aloha admits. “But on the evening that Kapua won [Miss Aloha Hula] … I had to find my own little corner and tell my mom ‘I’m so sorry, you just knew what you had in the works for me.'”

Kapua recalls that, growing up, her daily routine involved school, hula, performances, and then homework at home. “We’d repeat the cycle every day,” she says.

She is quick to point out that there were perks. “It enabled my sisters and me to travel the world … [I didn’t really comprehend] what the lifestyle was about, it was just hula.”

Today, she is all about the lifestyle and what hula means to people. With halau in Hawai’i, San Francisco and Japan, Kapua realizes she’s not only teaching hula, she’s perpetuating a way of life.

This year, Kili is attempting to keep another Dalire tradition alive-winning the title of Miss Aloha Hula. Aloha was the first Miss Aloha Hula. Kapua won the competition in 1991, the 20th anniversary of her mother’s win.

“It was amazing,” Aloha says. Th e joy of watching Kapua win was repeated twice more, when her daughters Kaui and Keola also won Miss Aloha Hula titles.

Kili is following in their footsteps. “I’m excited and ready to do what I have to do and to try and win the title,” says the nursing student.

“I’m just really hopeful that tradition continues and that we’ll have another (Miss Aloha Hula),” Aloha says with a happy smile.

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