My name is Hannah Davis, Founder of BANGS Shoes – an adventure inspired footwear company created to make the world a better place. Our slogan, Your Adventure Helps Others Find Theirs, is the total embodiment of why I started this thing. Modeled after the classic work boot style I saw while teaching English in China, BANGS Shoes is a product which invests 20% of its profit back into entrepreneurs around the world. To date we have invested in 1100 entrepreneurs in 66 countries! This is huge for me because I’ve always been passionate about helping people help themselves.
Below, I share with you guys an experience that parallels and surprisingly illustrates my mission for cultivating a meaningful community with last impact.
My 30th Birthday was this past November which means I have been growing BANGS for seven years, working 5-7 days a week anywhere from 6-14 hours a day. Before I started BANGS Shoes I laid out a pros and cons list for starting a business and one of my favorite benefits was the alleged ability to work from anywhere.
In the time I started BANGS until my 30th birthday I had never (not even once) planned an experience that I can take my work on. It’s always been the other way around. Work #1, me #2.
A few months before my big birthday I realized that turning 30 is actually a huge milestone. Life is marked by milestones and if we don’t stop and appreciate them, they all just flow together. So I sat down and said “ok Hannah. What do you want?” Of course I initially panicked. A BMW, TEN MILLION DOLLARS, A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF DARK CHOCOLATE.
Then I took a deep breath and said ok. One of my real bucket list goals is to go to Hawaii and practice yoga. So I started Google-ing. I found 2 places I could get really excited about. Taking into account I’m not a millionaire I reached out to both places, introduced myself, and asked if there was some sort of trade we could do to help me stay at their facilities.
When I heard from Kalani Oceanside I learned that their entire community is based on the idea of trade. People can stay here, complete a job that is needed (landscaping, kitchen, etc) and boom — the community supports the space and the space supports the community.
So it was decided. I would stay in Hawaii for two weeks and host a workshop, help the retreat with content for their social media and (my personal favorite) work a few landscaping shifts.
The first few days on the Big Island were HARD. At the Kalani retreat were 90 volunteers, 60 staff, and a ton of guests. As with any big group of humans, smaller groups of people are formed. People become bound by time and experience. I was an outsider with no connection back to my home base.
I ate meals by myself for the first few days with no phone to occupy my mind or protect my ego. I felt awkward and alone.
Everything changed when I did my first volunteer shift with Kalani Oceanside landscaping.
My three landscaping shifts ended up being my favorite part of my entire Hawaii experience which is funny because it was literally manual labor. I ripped out cane grass, helped cut down trees, went through piles of garbage knee-deep in compost, washed out bins that had developed maggots, crouched on my knees in the rain micro-weeding, and more. I worked with people from ages 20 to mid-70s from all over the world, everyone in the dirt together. By the end of each shift I was EXHAUSTED, my nails had an entire world of dirt under them, my clothes were horrifically dirty and my BANGS somehow dirtier.
But we did it all together. I had found my people. Over the next couple weeks, lifetimes unfolded.
With these new humans I ate meals, meditated, trekked around the island, and practiced yoga. I met humans who had arrived with their partner but were now alone. And people who had arrived alone but now lived with a partner. We laughed, danced, shared stories of triumph and heartbreak, success and failures, and dreams for the future. I met people who had lived at Kalani for 11 years, and by the time I left I met people who had been there a shorter time than me.
Everyone was at Kalani for a different reason, but we all had one thing in common -- we were all searching for something. Maybe it was simply something to do. Or searching for warmer weather. But more often than not it was searching for peace and connection to something greater. And these deep sometimes heartbreaking topics were ok to talk about openly.
Through laughter and tears we shared our deepest fears and goals, our life’s depths and hopeful heights, always surrounded by incomprehensible beauty, a deep green jungle formed from lava rock under a bright blue sky. I guess my greatest takeaway was something that I already knew, but it was forever sealed in my mind as truth.
Our most impactful adventures are created by the humans around us.
So my time in Hawaii urges me to continue seeking experiences with people: conversations, lessons, and wisdom learned from someone else's beautifully different circumstances.
I guess my unsolicited advice from all this is... figure out what you want and then ask for it. There are moments in time when we truly can live a life we dream of.
And for those of you who wanted more concrete adventures, I included the list of places I went below.
All my love,
Where I stayed: Kalani Oceanside
The beach in the images: Kehena Black Sand Beach
Tourist Attraction: Rainbow Falls
Hike: Mauna Kea
Hike + beach: Green Sands Beach