Healthy Hut in Kilauea isn’t your typical health food market. Founder and one of three business partners, Monique Dehne, has expanded her interpretation of conscious living to include empowerment of her employees and education of her community.
“We’re a big networking center,” she said. “Everyone who shops here is our friend.”
Customers fill the foyer exchanging ideas, pet sitter contacts and favorite masseuse.
This friendly exchange is the foundation on which this business was built. Dehne opened the first Healthy Hut in a tiny warehouse in 2003, moved to her second location in Kilauea proper; then was joined by partners Scott Nemeroff and Joseph Fiorilli in 2005. In November they moved to their present location in the old Kilauea Elementary School on Ho`okui Road.
The trio’s shared philosophy is simple: Help people feel better about themselves.
They achieve this end not only by providing organic, fair trade foods but also by hiring staff invested in learning the business.
“When they have more responsibility, it gives them a lot more confidence. Anyone interested in the business, we give the the opportunity to show us what they want to be,” Dehne said.
Unlike most businesses where a manager shoulders the majority of responsibilities of ordering product, at Heatlhy Hut entry level staff are encouraged to cross-train in every aspect of the business.
Not only do they order product for the store, but employees hungry for knowledge are sent to trade shows so they can return to educate and inspire their peers.
Dehne gushes with pride as she talks about the initiative her staff shows on the job.
“They bring tears to my eyes,” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Healthy Hut offers a 401k to employees as well as payed vacations.
“We want to provide sustainable living to our youth,” Fiorilli adds. “We want our employees to live a good life.”
By “youth” Fiorilli is referring to the companies youthful employees ranging in age from 19 to 20-something.
“We have 24 employees and they are the key to our success. They are the best part of this business” he said.
Healthy Hut’s new location expanded in many ways: foremost is the presence of prepared foods, a smoothie and coffee bar and even more recently, monthly lectures offered on healthy, sustainable living. In May, yoga instructor, Lulu Stretzler will share how different yoga poses affect the body internally.
Healthy Hut offers a variety of locally grown produce and Kaua`i made products. Beyond groceries they offer everything from pet food to house cleaning products.
A corporate culture consciousness informs all their orders. If the owners learn one of their boutique vendors was bought by a mega-company that doesn’t share their philosophy on health, they discontinue the product. Customers can learn more about where their food comes from by reading a boycott list taped to the back of each cash register.
“Our goal is to feed health to our community by feeding them good food,” Dehne said.