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2016 Review & Looking Forward to 2017

Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Kapuluan

As we settle into a new calendar year, we are reminded of the awful start Kapuluan experienced as we were heading into 2016, our first year in business. Funny what a difference a year makes; we feel truly blessed and thankful for what 2016 has given us. It all starts with our community of amazing people – where our goals start and end. 

When we started Kapuluan, we set out to build a community of people who care about improving the world. People who could help us achieve our goals of improving the livelihood of impoverished coconut farming communities and providing an antidote to environmental issues with our tree planting program.

Seeing our dreams and goals come to reality was incredibly challenging. What we wanted to accomplish was clear, but we had no idea how to make it a reality.

The first step was building a successful business. No business = no money. No money = no coconut trees and no change for coconut farmers. And we didn’t know anything about starting a business like Kapuluan. Products, packaging, supply chains, and logistics were all foreign languages to us.

In an incredibly competitive beauty market full of big-time businesses with tons of money, it’s safe to say that Kapuluan was an underdog destined to fail. And things didn’t start well when we launched at the end of 2015. After a failed crowdfunding campaign and our piggy bank flushed down the drain, we were forced to start over with hardly any money.

We had put our savings into the launch – we filmed Kinabuhi to tell the story of impoverished coconut farmers and made a crowdfunding video to raise money. We hired a PR company and Social Media staff. We built an email list and a digital ad campaign on Facebook and Google. We worked relentlessly to build a beautiful crowdfunding campaign page and got help from friends to design beautiful images and branded content for the campaign. We did everything we were supposed to do. None of it mattered. We had a goal of $90,000 and raised less than $5000.

None of it mattered. We had a goal of $90,000 and raised less than $5000.

And we can mainly thank our family and friends for the $5000.

That was a tough pill to swallow. We wondered if anyone cared about what we cared about.


We had a trip to The Philippines booked at the end of 2014. The plan was to research and connect with coconut farming communities and government authorities in preparation for our DME Handmade Coconut Oil facility.

We were sitting on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean two days into our trip. It was dreamlike, sitting on white sand and surrounded by the most beautiful water we “saw—palm trees at my back and a beautiful sunset warming our souls.

We had a grand plan and a positive mindset. Everything was perfect.

But that evening, a voice came over the radio and changed how we would feel for the rest of our lives.

A few days later, we would end up in an evacuation center facing the eye of Super Typhoon Hagupit.

We had been in this part of the Philippines the year before, delivering relief goods and clean water after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the region. However, we were unprepared for what we experienced. We had never done any disaster relief, and despite feeling invincible, we were brought to our knees and reduced to tears on far too many occasions. No one should see what we saw. It was utterly devastating.

Now we were in the same place, facing the same situation. The Haiyan experience made this one so much worse. We had seen too much. We couldn’t eat. We couldn’t do anything.

But it was time to Walk a Mile in Their Shoes.

After 10 hours of waiting for the worst, and despite the roof coming off the building, We made it out alive; The experience solidified my commitment and determination to realize our goals. If it weren’t for that Typhoon, we might have quit at some point in early 2016.

We kept grinding and rode the ups and downs of a small startup company for months. We had a great WHY that kept us going and knew that WHY would open doors for us eventually.

Finally, we started catching a few breaks.

Kinabuhi was featured at the United Nations Climate Conferences in Paris, and Nasty Gal became our first retailer. We knew things were looking up when they sold out in a week. And then came Urban Outfitters as our next retail partner. And then, we secured a distributor in Canada who reputed S’well, Manduka, Vega, and other top brands. They had seen Kinabuhi and wanted to work with us.

That was the best feeling we had last year. Knowing that Kinabuhi had resonated in a way that someone wanted to support Kapuluan and work with us. That meant everything; We knew that other people cared about these coconut farmers.

2016 was a wild ride. We made gambles that have paid off. We made mistakes. We fist-pumped amid small wins. We cried at times that drove us to the tattered edge of the unknown. We’ve added a patch of grey hairs. And we slept less than we figured it possible to continue functioning.

Despite our accomplishments, it is challenging, to say the least, to see Kapuluan as any success.

We are constantly reminded of our unique retail network, media, celebrity coverage, a recent feature in People Magazine, or sales growth.

But all we can think about is seeing coconut farming communities reborn, surrounded by thousands of coconut tree seedlings shining new hope on resilient coconut farmers and their beautiful children.

It’s going to be a lot more hard work, won’t stop until it is a reality.

This is a journey, and patience is a virtue.

Ultimately, the reason for this post is to thank YOU! Without the tremendous support we’ve received from our amazing community, our goals might be a distant memory.

Today, we’re blossoming, and our goals are within sight. We’re committed to planting 4544 coconut palm trees, and this December, we raised over $1000 for Filipino children rescued from abuse and abandonment.

It means so much to us that we’ve been able to build such a fantastic community because everything about Kapuluan comes directly from our hearts – All natural products, simplicity, a product that can help people and the planet. So it is a great feeling to know that other people also want to contribute to part of these virtues.

So, when we sit back and reminisce on the good and bad over the past year, we cannot help but feel incredibly excited about what lies ahead in 2017. And we cannot help but feel incredibly grateful for all the people who supported Kapuluan along the way.

Together, we will make The World a better place!

We look forward to your help in achieving our goal of planting 1 Million Coconut Palm Trees while transforming coconut farming communities in the Philippines.

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