Haelee Tallett ’18 Champions Entrepreneurial Program
Before ceding the room to Haelee Tallett —or Haels, as she prefers to be called— Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program director, Dr. Roy Panzarella quipped that the Hogan Speaker Series is setting a new Guinness World Record tonight by inviting the youngest guest speaker ever.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get to that,” Tallett joked about her age. “I’m not mysterious and I don’t put on any façades. I’m an open book with a story to tell and I’m glad to tell it.”
Tallett’s entrepreneurial achievements certainly belie her youthful age of 26. Owner and CEO of Ocean Creations, a custom jewelry company inspired by her love for the ocean, the Hogan Entrepreneurial Program ’16 and Chaminade ’18 Business Administration graduate began her now-thriving business as a hobby when she was a young 16-year-old teenager.
“I just learned that when Haels was a freshman at Chaminade, she already wanted to enter the Hogan program, which wasn’t possible because entry requires students to be juniors, seniors or graduate students, but she was determined,” Panzarella told attendees. “It’s powerful what she has been able to achieve, and is now giving back to the community.”
The point wasn’t lost among attendees and Tallett’s support network of 10 employees and close friends, including her former Chaminade classmate, Brandon Espiritu, ’16. “She has always worked hard so I’m here to support her,” he said. “It’s nice to see Haels achieve so many milestones and I’m super proud of her.”
Tallett’s modest beginnings started with her brother’s passion for diving and bringing home shells of all shapes and sizes. Initially, she would turn the shells into whimsical jewelry for herself, but she would eventually give them as gifts in hopes of saving money. Then the compliments and requests came in.
“I wanted to make jewelry that was affordable and made young women feel good,” says Tallett, who recently expanded Ocean Creations with a second location at Ala Moana Center. “I wanted to empower young women to be the best of themselves.”
Tallett credits Chaminade for shaping her as an entrepreneur, and teaching her what she calls the necessary “soft skills” to run a business. “The professors here taught me confidence building and effective communicating,” said Tallett, who opened her first brick-and-mortar shop at Ka Makana Ali‘i in Kapolei. “They told me about challenges that an entrepreneur will face and how to meet them.”
Haels, though, isn’t the first generation of Talletts to attend Chaminade, Panzarella pointed out. “I believe her grandfather came here [Willibrord “Willie” K. Tallett ’61] and also her aunt [Theresa (Tallett) Edwards ‘89].”
“I’ve always been super interested in Chaminade because of my grandpa,” the younger Tallett said. “And I’ve always wanted to be in the Hogan Program. My relationship with the faculty still stands out as very special because my professors were so committed to helping us along the way. They would always go the extra mile, and my classmates and I knew we could count on them to help us, even if it wasn’t directly related to our classwork.”
As for the future, Tallett hopes to grow her business and to continue to have the opportunity to support young women. Standing in front of the class, the young entrepreneur encouraged the budding MBA students to pursue their dreams.
“When I was in your position I had no idea I would have two stores in two of Hawai‘i’s largest malls,” she said. “I wake up sometimes and I feel like I have impostor syndrome, and I ask myself, ‘How did I get here?’”