Celebrating International Women's Day

7 Min Read

International Women's Day is a global celebration that honors the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is a day to recognize the incredible contributions made by women across all fields - be it as businesswomen, artists, chefs creating delicious recipes, or activists fighting for the well-being of all.


We've had the pleasure of interviewing three incredibly talented women, each making waves through their respective fields and empowering women not only in Hawai'i, but worldwide!


These inspiring individuals are breaking barriers and setting new standards in their industries, and our team is incredibly happy to share their stories with you on International Women's Day 2024.


Kelsie Dayna, Artist

Kelsie Dayna ALOHA 

First up is Kelsie Dayna, a Honolulu-based creative powerhouse bringing fun and smiles into the humdrum of everyday life whose work transcends boundaries and challenges societal norms. Her unique perspective and creative expression have earned her a dedicated following and recognition in the art world.

Tell us about your background and how you came to work as a freelance designer and creator.


    Aloha! My name is Kelsie Dayna! I’m a freelance artist and illustrator, born and raised on Oahu. Art has always been in my life, though it was something that I never imagined I would do seriously. Like many people, I lost my corporate office job during the pandemic and was forced to face the tough question: what the hell am I going to do with my life? I started drawing and sharing my art online as a way to cope with the change in my life and everything kind of snowballed (in the best way possible) after that. Since then it’s been a learn on the go process, teaching myself everything from new art skills and techniques to how to run my own business.


      What's your favorite part of your job?

      My favorite part of the job has to be the time I get to spend with my ‘ohana. Sure, freelancing can be quite the hustle and I probably work more hours than I did before. But I also have the freedom to take off and be there for all the family life events that I otherwise would have missed if I was still working a 9-to-5 job.


      What advice would you give to other women interested in the design/arts industry?


        My biggest piece of advice to other women interested in this field is to take risks!! So often I would talk myself out of doing things because I was too scared or didn’t feel “ready” enough. But the truth is that we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. And it’s not until we take that first (very scary) step, do we begin to realize that.  

        Kara Fujita, Marketing & Communications for Terviva

        Kara Fujita ALOHA


        Next, we spoke with a dedicated businesswoman who is helping redefine sustainable agriculture practices. Her commitment to organic farming and environmental stewardship serves as a shining example for future generations, proving that it's possible to cultivate the land while preserving its natural beauty.

        Tell us about your background and how you came to work at Terviva.

        I began my career in media and advertising in the U.S. and then spent more than a decade working in Europe leading global brand strategy and innovation for large multinationals. During this time, I was immersed in the cultural nuances of language and meaning - how can a brand resonate in markets everywhere - from the UK and China to Saudi Arabia. This experience deepened my belief in the power of communication to impact how we engage with the world around us, and with each other. I also saw first-hand the breadth and impact our global food system and joined Terviva because I truly believe that by transforming our food and energy sources, we can drive global change, addressing some of humanity's greatest challenges.

        Tell us about your role specifically.

        I lead marketing and communications for Terviva, an agricultural innovation company partnering with farmers and communities around the world to harvest and grow pongamia, a climate-resilient tree crop which improves the land and communities where it’s grown. This means that at the heart of my work each day is this amazing tree whose beans are a sustainable source for bioenergy, animal feed and food.

        No matter how challenging or busy it gets, being a part of a company, whose values and vision are reflected in every single part of the process - from tree to plate - and how that translates into positive impact is so rewarding.

        What's your favorite part of your job?


        My favorite part of the job is working for a company that I believe in and is making a positive impact in the world. From wild harvesting in India to research and development of elite cultivars in Florida, to our team who is hard at work on our sustainable food ingredients - there is always so much to learn and create - whether it's a presentation that’s being given halfway across the world or social media content. Putting it all together in a way that tells the bigger story while also providing the important details, it’s this multi-faceted, ever changing role.

        Do you have a mentor or anyone/thing you look to for inspiration?

        I have mentors professionally and personally because there is so much we can learn from both areas of our lives that can positively impact how we show up in the world. Professionally, I’ve been inspired by Simon Sinek’s work. His concept of finding your why really explains the deeper meaning at the heart of how and why people engage with a brand or a product. Yet it can also relate to your personal life - what is your why? How do you choose to spend your time and energy? Does it match up to what you value, the kind of life you want to live or what you believe in?

        Sam Russo, Food photography & Content Creation

        Sam Russo ALOHA

        Last but certainly not least, we have a photographer who has mastered the art of curating and photographing delectable recipes that not only tantalize the taste buds, but shine on camera to promote large-name products and food ingredients.

        Her passion for recipe photography inspires others to not only try the recipes themselves (yum!), but get more involved in the product + culture it stems from!

        Tell us about your background and how you came to work as a food photographer!

        I've always loved photography. I got my first job in high school and the first thing I saved up for was a fancy DSLR camera. I used that camera to take pictures of friends, family, nature, really anything and everything! I was mostly self-taught, then took a photography class in college that I loved and learned so much from. From there, I graduated college with a degree in Fashion (fun fact most people don't know about me!) and got a job working in corporate marketing. In the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but wasn't sure what that would be just yet. Then, I started following lots of food accounts on social media, and realized I could make a career out of taking pictures of food! So I dusted off that DSLR camera from high school and started taking pictures of all of the food and recipes I made. I've also always loved to cook, so this was super fun for me. From there, I enrolled in food photography classes and workshops, then started to reach out and work with big food brands (ALOHA was one of my first professional clients!).


        I eventually took the leap and quit my corporate job, and dove into food photography and content creation full time. That was three years ago, and I haven't looked back since!

        What's your favorite part of your job?

        The ability to be creative on a daily basis is such a gift to me. It's true what they say about if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. I LOVE my job, and enjoy every second behind the camera. I also get to eat most things I photograph, which is a major perk!

        What advice would you give to other women interested in photography?

        Hard work always pays off! Take risks, work hard, and if you're truly passionate about something you can and will make it happen. Also, progress isn't always linear, especially as a photographer. But remember, everything is a learning opportunity, and never give up on your dreams! If it was easy, everyone would do it. 😉

        What inspires you in your career / do you have a role model you look up to?

        Other female photographers and food bloggers are my biggest inspiration. Watching and knowing that other women can do it, gives me the confidence to know that I can do it too. My Instagram feed is full of other female photographers, and their work always provides me with the most inspiration. Also, since becoming a Mom last year, I'm more motivated than ever to show my son that, with lots of hard work, you can achieve anything!

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