Crack seed is one of Hawaiʻi's local charms. As a child, Honolulu resident Clayton Chang dreamed of owning his favorite neighborhood crack seed store. It's a dream that eventually came true -- along with a transformation to shave ice.
It took Clayton Chang 40 years to do it, but he was able to make his childhood dream come true in 1996, becoming the fourth owner of Doe Fang’s in the Aina Haina Shopping Center. It has been his favorite crack seed store, just a five-minute bike ride away, when he was growing up.
Since then, there have been ups and downs that any small business owner can relate to. Acquiring Doe Fang’s was a gamble, Chang re-financed his home multiple times to buy the store and keep it going through tough times over the years. On the bright side, the business got a shot in the arm when Clayton Chang’s nephew, Bronson Chang, joined him in 2006. The younger Chang was then fresh out of the University of Southern California, where he’d studied business administration and entrepreneurship. He was able to revive the business with new crowdfunding opportunities and a fresh approach to marketing.
Together, they took stock of Doe Fang’s product mix and prospects and chose to re-brand it as Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, dropping crack seed in favor of shave ice. That version of the business achieved such a following and rave reviews on social media that in 2016 Ala Moana Center approached the duo about expanding to the shopping center.
There, too, challenges have coincided with opportunities. The Changs found that it took longer, and cost more than expected, to open the Ala Moana Center. They’re taking this in stride, planning to repeat the creative process that made House of Pure Aloha’s initial success possible.