Ono Success: Growing a Business in a Down Economy
By Sonia Isotov
“I guess all I can say about making it in a down economy is you have to have a great product and give great service and ride it out. If you can survive now, you will make it in the long run, and you just have to believe in yourself, and your product.”
That’s the advice of Valerie Kane, owner of Ono Gelato. In May 2010, Kane opened Ono Gelato. Then, one year later, she partnered with Dan Sanchez, owner Dan Sanchez Salo, to open Maui Gelato at the Dolphin Plaza, at the old Baskin Robbins location.
Kane attributes her success to hard work, great customer service, and a quality product.
Kane says she funded the first store with her personal savings, and what made the second store possible was that the new location lease came with all the equipment from the old Baskin Robins store that had been there. She says they put a lot of “hard work” into changing the store image through the colors, signage and retail items.
“I believe that we were able to open this second location because we have a great product that uses local ingredients and we understand that in times like these when everyone’s funds are so tight they are only going to spend on the best and that is what we strive to be,” says Kane. “We were prompted to open the second store because we believe that, like in Italy, people like to walk after dinner, and this new location allowed us to capture that market.”
Along with knowing their target market, Kane is very proud of the quality product they are able to produce on property. “We are an authentic Italian “gelateria” with 12 “sorbettos” (water based), four frozen yogurts and 16 dairy flavors made with whole organic milk from Hawaii Island to choose from. We craft our gelato in the true artisan style with fresh bases made from scratch in house and aged for 24 hours, and then infused with our hand-crafted flavors,” continued Kane.
The store makes 10-20 flavors in-house every day. Popular flavors are lilikoi, peanut butter cup, mint chip (with fresh mint leaves), and two custom flavors, Tropical Cream (lilkoi quark and coconut) and Hawaiian Tropix (mango, papaya, pineapple).