Rachel and her sister Leilani (also a collaborator with KOOSHOO) were born and raised on a very special little island in the South Pacific called Norfolk Island. The island is home to 1100 inhabitants and lies 900 miles east of Australia. It’s only 3 x 5 miles so is essentially a speck of paradise in the South Pacific.
They grew up in a traditional island home, hand-crafted by their father, a talented builder on the Island. When the family moved to Canada in the mid 90’s the family home was converted into accommodation and called Tintoela (spoiler alert: Tintoela, like KOOSHOO, is a Norfolk word. It means Sweetheart). For a quick voyage to the South Pacific, have a look at their website here.
The local Islanders who live on Norfolk are direct descendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty – the famous British naval mutiny that Hollywood has re-enacted multiple times (with Marlon Brando, then again with Mel Gibson). Rachel and Leilani are 9th generation descendents of the actual mutineers and their Tahitian wives.
Over many generations the old English of the mutineers blended with the Tahitian of their wives to create what is now known as Norfolk (often spelled Norfuk), the incredibly unique language of Norfolk Island.
Following a long period of time in which the local children were punished for speaking in their native tongue by the Australian school system, the language is once again being celebrated for its unique status in the world and is now part of the school curriculum. In 2007, the United Nations recognized Norfuk on their list of endangered world languages, shortly after the first English-Norfolk dictionary was published.
As for our name, before we even knew what type of products we would be making, we knew that our company would act as a vehicle for good in this world. So when it came time to choose a name, we immediately turned to the Norfolk language. Right there in front of us was the beautiful word kooshoo, a commonly used word on the island and a word we knew was right as soon as we saw it.
KOOSHOO means feeling good. It’s used in many different ways on Norfolk though perhaps the most common is as part of a greeting:
Wut a way you? (Hi, how are you?)
Kooshoo, you? (feeling good, you?)
That original want for doing good has translated into a company filter that we use for every decision we make: “does this feel good?” In other words: does this choice have positive implications on many levels? From choosing the companies in Los Angeles that we work with to build KOOSHOO headbands, hairties and shawls to the recycled and biodegradable packaging we use to the choice to donate a percentage of profits to charity, every decision we’ve made has traveled through the “does this feel good” filter.
We hope you love the name as much as we do. And have fun and give your Norfuk skills a try. Next time someone asks how you’re doing try answering with ‘kooshoo’. If anything like us, you may just find yourself with a new favorite word on your hands.