God’s Lanes athleisure startup wins $25,000 MEO program grant

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October 7, 2021

Landa Ampong’s business plan for God’s Lanes, LLC, a startup e-commerce retail company offering faith-based athleisure apparel to Christian men and women, was judged the best plan and awarded $25,000 in a Maui Economic Opportunity Business Development Center contest.

BDC Director David Daly made the video announcement Tuesday, Oct. 5, to the 30 entrepreneurs who submitted business plans for the contest. All entrants participated in MEO’s Core Four business development course, which is offered over six weeks multiple times during the year. The next set of classes is set to begin Nov. 2.

Funding for Ampong’s and seven other grants was provided by Council Member Tasha Kama, who used her district funds.

“Small businesses are at the heart of our local economy, and I’m excited to see the results of these entrepreneurs turning their ideas into revenue and jobs,” said Kama, who also sits on the MEO Board of Directors. “By supporting this important business education program and covering a portion of the winners’ startup costs, the County has helped launch these enterprises in the right direction: on a path to success.”

Ampong, a Lahaina resident, registered the LLC in August 2020 and had the trade name God’s Lane approved for use by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in January 2021.

The mission of God’s Lane is to “encourage you to walk down the lane God has for your life, by equipping you with daily reminders of Him while you wear our athleisure apparel in comfort from one life task to another.”

The idea for God’s Lane arose during the pandemic when Ampong’s family began working out to improve their physical, mental and spiritual health. They were looking for trendy, durable and versatile athletic apparel with biblical messages but could not find any, Ampong said in her business plan.

Later when Ampong was able to return to her job as the pandemic eased, she still was working from home. She wanted clothes that would allow her to move from virtual business meetings to the gym and other parenting activities.

Ampong decided to fill the void for athleisure wear with biblical messages and named her business “God’s Lanes” for the truth that God has a specific plan for every individual person’s life, her business plan said.

Three business plans garnered $10,000 grants. The company, owner and description of the business follow:

  • Northshore Nice Cream, Naomi Rahm, startup food truck in Makawao serving healthy plant-based ice cream, snacks and juices made from locally sourced fruit.
  • Adaptive Hawaii, LLC, Jennifer Gladwin, a startup company focused on providing adaptive equipment, accessible concierge services and inclusive resources to visitors, locals and businesses on Maui.
  • Malia Lauer, LLC, Malia Lauer, a startup physical therapy business serving the rural, underserved area of East Maui from Nahiku to Kipahulu. Licensed physical therapists will provide evaluation and individualized treatment for orthopaedic, neurological, pelvic floor, pediatric and sports-related injuries.

Another four business plans garnered $5,000 grants:

  • Salt Ice Hawaii, LLC, Jessie Stone, a solution for chilling, preserving and maintaining freshness of fish after the catch. Not found in the islands, salt flake ice is used in New Zealand.
  • Maui Balloon Décor, Jasmine Dillon, a high end balloon decor company for businesses, public events and personal celebrations. The company can produce columns, arches, photo ops, custom sculptures and balloon bouquets.
  • On The Move, LLC, Mele Andrade, a company that offers summer sports camps for children kindergarten to 5th grade that encourages a healthy lifestyle through teaching basic sports skills, healthy nutrition and social/emotional skills.
  • Lucky Cat Provisions, Eden and Teak McAfee, a local grocer reinvented offering premium specialty foods and tabletop goods, sourced from local farms and neighborhood kitchens. Set to launch in January 2022, the store also will offer plant-based snacks, gourmet confections, sunset provisions and dining accessories.

The grants will not go directly to the startup businesses. MEO’s BDC staff will make sure the grantees have completed requirements to become a legitimate business in Hawaii, such filing registrations and tax forms. Then, BDC staff will work with the grantees to come up with a list of vendors, who will be paid by MEO.

“Judging was so difficult with so many wonderfully creative business ideas,” said Daly. “There will be businesses arising from those grant applicants that were not selected.

“We thank Council Member Tasha Kama for giving these eight entrepreneurs some capital to turn their dreams on paper into reality, and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Mayor Michael Victorino and the Maui County Council for funding the MEO Business Development Center.”

The judges were Wayne Wong, director of the Small Business Development Center; Lalaine Manlapao, assistant vice president and business banker for First Hawaiian Bank; Jacob Simons, Bank of Hawaii private banking; and Gerry Smith, fiscal budget and control manager for the Maui High Performance Computing Center.

This was a one-time grant program for entrepreneurs completing the Core Four business planning course. The next round of Core Four runs 9 to 11 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, from Nov. 2 to Dec. 2. The course cost is $50. Financial assistance is available.

For more information, contact Daly at the MEO Business Development Center at (808) 249-2990 or go to the MEO website at meoinc.org.

Landa Ampong, founder of God’s Lanes, LLC, wrote the top business plan in a Maui Economic Opportunity Business Development Center competition and received a $25,000 grant. Her business produces athleisure wear with biblical messages.

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