Maui Wowi Hawaiian recently initiated an increased effort to draw more female candidates through sharing the success stories of its current female franchisees. Maui Wowi franchise operator Cheryl Kohan is a business owner who knows from experience the type of qualities that lead to success.
“I’m a real people person. I’m creative and I have a good imagination,” Kohan says. “Women are way more empowered now than they used to be. I think it’s that urge to have a business, do their own thing and make a mark on the world; it gives you freedom.”
Kohan began her business in Minnesota 14 years ago with Maui Wowi Hawaiian, an island themed company known for its fresh fruit smoothies and premium Hawaiian coffees. Founded in 1982 and celebrating 30 years, the company has franchises around the world, with nearly 50 percent of them having female ownership, says Maui Wowi’s executive vice president, Erin Hicks.
Kohan and her husband Jack co-own their franchise, consisting of a mobile unit called a Ka’anapali Cart and two tiki bar-style catering units. They were one of the original Maui Wowi franchisees after taking an early retirement and finding out that they weren’t quite ready to settle down. Through the years, they have seen the system grow into a thriving business opportunity that has allowed them the freedom and flexibility they desired.
“For the last 14 years with Maui Wowi, we’ve been able to earn enough additional income to maintain our pre-retirement lifestyle,” Kohan says. “It’s a really great way for people to own their own business, set their own standards, and earn as much money as they want to work hard for.”
Prior to Maui Wowi, Kohan had already exhibited her entrepreneurial interest and creative qualities through a variety of different careers. She spent some time working for the government as a liaison, later transitioning into the marketing field at a large corporation, and eventually buying a business that allowed her to provide independent administrative services for clients.
Her experience in the business world provided her with skills that she has carried into retirement and now into her new career as a female franchise owner. Kohan loves how franchising serves as a foundation and allows her to apply a personal touch.
“With a franchise you have guidance. You learn from people who have done it. It’s a really good idea for women who are thinking about owning a business,” Kohan says. “In a way, it’s a confidence booster once you have started your business because you know you’ll always have backup and support if you need it.”
Finding success as a female franchise owner can be challenging, Kohan says. She’s found success by using the qualities and characteristics she has developed through the years, while continuing to rely on her experience, her research, and her drive to pursue a dream.
“You have to do your research. You can’t just fall in love with a concept and go blindly into it, but you also have to follow your dream. It’s a wonderful thing if you are willing to put in the work,” she says.
Maui Wowi creates opportunities that have empowered its existing female franchisees and strives to continue increasing its value and support to women entrepreneurs.