Orly Locquiao is one of the most influential creative leaders in San Jose and the Bay Area. Orly is very known in the tattoo realm all around the world because of his unique Polynesian style of tattooing and his successful tattoo shop that became a staple in San Jose called Humble Beginnings.
After creating Humble Beginnings he then started focusing his energy on his next project, CUKUI.
In 2008 Orly Locquiao and Sam Rodriguez were brainstorming on starting another business that would create and connect the island Polynesian community in San Jose and introduce people that are not familiar with the culture. He wanted to have a brand that is based on his art that touches and builds on different ethnic cultures such as tattoos, graffiti, design, car culture, and music.
They came out with a clothing line called Cukui which eventually became one of the most known brands in San Jose, California.
Cukui had its launching party on November 01, 2008, and soon after opened its flagship store in San Jose’s Japan Town.
“KUKUI” in Hawaiian is a candlenut and the tree from which it grows is known as the symbol of peace, protection, and enlightenment. The kukui nut’s soot traditionally would then be mixed with the juice of coconut and sugar cane to create tattoo ink”
After 11 years, Cukui has become a staple in San Jose due to the impact that they have made on the community. Orly and his brother Jason grew up in East San Jose and because of this, they want to help local artists in their community and create an outlet for them to showcase their art. Cukui invites local and out-of-state artists to these events connecting people from all parts of the world.
The brand has also collaborated with major sports teams in California. They host Polynesian Nights during these games and help bring the community out to interact with each other. I believe Cukui is beyond just a brand, it’s a way of life, Infusing art, culture, and community, Cukui is bridging the gap between our ancestors and the next generations.
I asked Orly “How has Cukui changed your lives and how has it built a community in San Jose?“
“It’s always a good feeling when you see people wear your clothes you make, when you see it around town gives you a sense of pride to keep on making Designs that people want to wear and that are proud of wearing a local brand. It has built a community of all different cultures and ethnic cities, a diverse and unified culture. Trying to create positive messages along with inspirational art”