My Ko'Aloha Story


Well-known member
May 2, 2008
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Canada (Greater Toronto Area)
I don’t even know where to begin. Last Friday morning, I found myself following the confused directions of my rental GPS, driving in Honolulu to visit an unknown ukulele factory (unknown because my then girlfriend wanted to surprise me) to take a tour and pick up my birthday gift, a new uke (I knew she was buying me a uke because I have not been allowed to even think of buying a uke since May but that’s all she would tell me – she ordered me a uke).

I make a left turn into what looked like an industrial park and then I see the sign. The back-to-back “k” logo, representing the King of Kings, of Ko’Aloha! My eyes light up as I suppress a little-girl-like squeal of delight. As I pull into a spot and pop the trunk to grab my DSLR and video camera, I look over and see Papa Ko’Aloha himself. We exchange “Alohas” and I’m more excited than if I had met Bruce Lee, Elvis or possibly, dare I say it, Jake. I truly respect Alvin Okami. Despite all the great press Ko’Aloha gets in the media and all the personal compliments he receives, he remains a very fatherly, down-to-earth man, respecting all the gifts that God has given him – and that’s how he sees his life and explains away his vast array of talents and successes: as a series of gifts given to him from the One above. It’s actually quite humbling hearing him explain his success in the ukulele business. At one point in the tour, Brian, our tour guide and one of the Ko’Aloha journeymen, was showing us a contraption designed and built by Pops to cut the grooves in the fret board (for the fret wire), the grooves in the bridge or the grooves in the nut in a single pass. Pops stops working on the series of Pineapple Sundays he’s been carefully assembling and personally explains this ‘miracle’ device. I say ‘miracle’ because Pops explains that his invention of this machine could only be divinely inspired.

“People call me a genius…I can’t even balance my chequebook. How could a guy like me build this?” he asks. Papa Ko’Aloha goes on to tell us that he built the machine with no plans. He thought about what it should do and that eventually led to what it should look like and how it would work. He drew no schematics, wrote down no measurements. He conceived the idea, orchestrated and memorized the 300+ steps required to build it and simply put it together. He then tells us that he was so scared of turning it on for the first time (for fear of failure and/or possible personal injury if it was not built properly) that he stood there for hours with his finger on the power switch. When he finally pressed the button, it purred like a cat and brought tears to his eyes. And as he explains that only God could inspire someone like him to create something like that, the tears come again. I hold back an urge to give him a hug.

This is merely a part of the reason I love this company. I have seen the short films. I have read the articles in the media. I have read the posts on the forums. They all say the same thing – Ko’Aloha is a company that exemplifies customer service. What I have also seen, is that Ko’Aloha is also a place of family and a place of spirituality (watch/read interview with Pops, you’ll see what I mean). And while I would have been more than happy to have a new uke from any company (my then girlfriend, only knew of the three big “K” companies: Ko’Aloha, Kanile’a and Kamaka – who wouldn’t be overjoyed with any of these options?), I was secretly hoping for a Ko’Aloha. I had a surprise of my own.

Before the tour began, Pops showed me his newest, third addition to his Masterpiece collection, what he fondly calls the Jukulele – a finely made uke with tremendous sound and which also looks like a 50’s American jukebox! As I marvel at the amount of detail in this piece of artwork, he walks over to the showroom display of ukes and starts tuning one from the wall. He turns around and then presents me with my new baby, a tenor Sceptre! I have been drooling over the Sceptre ever since it’s introduction in 2007 (July 7th, 2007 to be exact: 7/7/7). And on the side of the uke, looking up at me whenever I look down, are the words: “Roberto, You are my comfort, my solace, and my rock. Love, Jolene”. I was stunned at both the beauty of the message and the beauty of the instrument. As Jolene is filming Pops presenting me with my uke, he asks Brian to take the camera as he invites Jolene to sit in front of me while I play my first song on my new uke just for her. As you can see, Mr. Okami is a romantic. Not to be out done in the romance department by either Pops or Jolene, I decide to play/sing “1,2,3,4” by the Plain White T’s and put my plan of surprise into action (many “Mahalos” and much respect to Aldrine for selecting this song for one of his many amazing lessons The result? I blew it. I fail abysmally. Even after practicing the song hundreds of times over the last couple of months, I get stage fright/camera shy and forget both the lyrics and the chord progression to the song (and did I mention Brian was recording this whole embarrassing ordeal?). After take a pause and recompose myself a little, I begin the chorus and sing the line: “There’s only one thing, to say, FOUR words, for you: Will you marry me? Jolene, will you marry me?”. Well, as I was hoping (especially since Brian was still filming me play – he’s the voice you’ll hear scream “He just proposed!”), I pull the ring box out of my pocket to prove that I’m serious (and not screwing-up the lyrics yet again) and she said “yes”. But the surprises weren’t done there. After explaining that I felt Ko’Aloha represented such great mana of family and spirituality and that I wanted to propose to Jolene in a place that cares as much about those things as I do (as opposed to a beach or a restaurant), Papa Ko’Aloha did something that I never would have expected in a thousand years. He thanked us for sharing our special moment with them! He then gave me the Sceptre as our wedding gift! I was stunned and gripped the uke tighter to make sure I didn’t drop it as my hands began to shake. After the tour, he even invited us to share the lunch they prepared of the Ko’Aloha family (unfortunately, we were on a tight schedule that day and had to sadly decline his generous offer). I will forever consider Alvin and Brian (as well as everyone at Ko’Aloha) as a part of my family for this experience that they have given me.

People always describe a trip to the Hawaiian islands as the trip of a lifetime and I whole-heartedly agree; not because of the the things I have done or the things I will bring back with me. It’s because of the people I have met. Papa Ko’Aloha was just the first of many people I have chatted with, experiencing the feeling that I’m simply catching-up an old friend. People were always willing to give this haole advice (how to get to where we were going or what to see to experience the real Hawaii), explaining the history of the culture or simply teaching me words from the Hawaiian language. Over the past four days and three islands, I have found that the spirit of Aloha is alive and well indeed. More than a new and beautiful fiancé or a new and beautiful uke, this is what I will bring back to the big city from Hawaii: Aloha.

If you want to check out the vid click:

Great story! And congrats on a beautiful ukulele and a caring partner, those are some real treasures you've got there.

edit: ...and that video is a touching piece man, great stuff!
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That was a really nice story, I wached your vid. I must say it even brought a tear of happyness to my eyes. Here is wishing you both many, many years of happyness.
Wow! The Okamis and Ko'Aloha are truly a class act. You have a wonderful and thoughtful finance and I wish you the best as your journey in life continues as one.

I guess we won't be seeing that Sceptre on ebay anytime soon!;)
wow! that's such a great story, thanks for sharing with us!

i've been circling around a pineapple sunday for sometime now... seeing this video made my mind up. this is the kind of company i want to support and i'll be thrilled to play a koaloha uke too! now i just gotta get married... LOL!

Great story, thanks for sharing! Much happiness to you and your fiance!
No fair to make me puddle up while I'm at work...not a very manly thing to do in this manly environment! Thank YOU for sharing your story!
What a wonderful gesture by KoAloha...............Wonderful people...........Truly a "class act"...........Congrats and many yrs of happiness and joy together...........Howie
AWWW!!!! That is just about the sweetest thing ever. Thanks for sharing!

Congratulations! To the happy couple!
Dammit, that's beautiful. The uke, your Jolene, your song. Everything. Congratulations!
WOW, What a unforgettable experience, and blessing. Best wishes on your future. ;)
That was wonderful, you are a lucky man! What a great uke, what a spectacular woman! Best to both of you!
What a beautiful story. A million congratulations. A perfect day you'll never forget
What a great story. One could not have planned a better vacation in Hawai'i. Congrats on your engagement.:D

Wow! That whole thing was incredible! You never ever forget how you got engaged and this is the story of a lifetime. Enjoy the blessing of the ukulele.

KoAloha is even more outstanding than ever. What a company!
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