Jan 18, 2017
Finding Her Muse
Five years ago, Julia Chu decided to follow her dreams.
For as long as she could recall, the idea of owning her own business, creating her own retail space, and showcasing her passions to the rest of the world called out to her. So many of us hear that voice deep inside, but we often fail to act on it. One day, Julia decided to stop ignoring that voice. She acted. She stopped thinking about why should couldn't open her own boutique, and instead focused on why she could. Not long after, La Muse, Julia's first storefront, was born. Located on Nuuanu Avenue in the heart of Chinatown's Art District, Julia brought her passions to life and curated a store that was in lock-step with her personality: sophisticated, pleasant, and eye-opening. La Muse has since become a destination in the neighborhood, drawing in visitors and shoppers from the world over.
It's been such a whirlwind since I opened our first store in Chinatown. It's been an amazing experience and has been so fulfilling for me and my family. It's been a lot of work, but it's all been worth it. La Muse has enabled me to meet so many amazing people and share my passion for fashion and hard-to-find gifts. It's helped me to not only grow my business, but grow as a person. I'm really living my dream.
Since opening her first storefront in Honolulu's Chinatown nearly five years ago, Julia has developed a following of patrons who are drawn to her unique aesthetic. So much so that when the opportunity to expand and open a second storefront in Ward Village's South Shore Market arose, she leapt at the opportunity. A creative hub lined with local merchants, the concept ran parallel to Julia's own outlook on business. "I absolutely love what's happening here at South Shore Market. I'm surrounded by local, creative people who are following their dreams…just like me," she says with an easy smile. "It's great to see so many people from Hawai'i who are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting their own businesses."
In the same fashion as her Chinatown location, La Muse at South Shore Market is a curation of Julia's interests. In the storefront, you'll find small European clothing brands, an array of work from local designers, and stunning gifts for children—all of which is displayed with Julia's unique artistic vision. According to Julia, part of what makes her job so fulfilling is being able to travel often in search of new vendors and lines to stock at her two storefronts. "Traveling makes me feel alive," she says. "I love seeing the world and learning new things and of course finding new ways to be creative. Although I've happily called Honolulu home for nearly 20 years, I was actually born in China and subsequently moved to Hawai'i with my family. I think having a worldly approach to my life has really carried over to my store. And I think that's what makes it appealing to people. You'll find things at La Muse that you won't find anywhere else."
When asked what the future holds, Julia says she looks forward to growing her two storefronts and continuing her search for upcoming, off-the-radar lines of clothing and gifts. She's also adamant that no matter where her travels take her, and no matter how smitten she may be with a new city she visits, there's no place like Hawai'i. "I love living here and being a part of the community," she says. "I wouldn't want to call any other place—or open another location—anywhere else. This is home. And I couldn't be happier to be here."
share this article
drop by for a visitLa Muse
1170 Auahi St.
more stories to discover
Gift Guide for the Traveler, Coworker & Foodie
Dec 20, 2016
Shopping for certain people can be difficult, but this gift guide will surely help.
All in the Fami-Le: Piggy Smalls Comes to Ward
Jun 14, 2016
Chef Andrew Le of Downtown Honolulu's Pig & The Lady to open 'Piggy Smalls' in Ward Village
Kīpuka: Culture from the Roots
May 24, 2019
We talk to Kīpuka about the place they've created for Hawaiian culture.