HONOLULU (KHON2) — The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, and there’s science to back it up. Experts have long discussed how the two are intertwined and can unlock emotional responses. Nature dominates when it comes to powerful scents: the saltwater in ocean, the sweet aromas of seasonal flowers and even the dewy grass in the mornings.

So how would you describe the smells of Hawaii? Is it possible to capture the memory of “home”?

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Alina Quinata tries to do that with her candle and soap business. Originally from Ukraine, Quinata arrived in Hawaii back in 2008 to be with her husband Timothy who was born and raised on Maui.

“Nature, plants, fruits, aromas, everything was very different from what I have ever seen before. Hawaii was truly an amazing place,” said Quinata. “Seeing all the tourists wanting to take pieces of Hawaii back home for their loved ones but being surrounded with China-made souvenirs made me and my husband think about products that will be Made in Hawaii and represent Hawaii!”

Quinata didn’t know if this could work out, but like everything in life, she had to try. After renting a small booth in Kona, people started buying candles that were made only using Hawaiian scents. Six months later, they had a second location, and a few years after that, their candles could be found on the Big Island, Maui and Oahu. It’s a success story that Quinata feels lucky to have, but it hasn’t always been easy.

“Creating new products and doing it right is actually a big deal for a one-man show,” she said. “You have to have first — idea of the product, in our case it’s a candle, then test numerous fragrance oils, then create new labels, take new pictures of the product, list items (if it’s sold online), meanwhile still keep making all your inventory and keep shipping incoming orders daily while being a mother of two.”

Quinata said it’s a big task to do this and run a retail shop at the same time. When the pandemic hit, it became even harder. She and her husband had to move to Nevada.

“Making Hawaiian candles was still my passion, but retail shops were not an option anymore,” she explained. “We had to get on the internet. In about two years, we have had over 14,000 sales! But retail shops and seeing our customers was our true passion.”

After a year of being in Nevada, they realized there were over 1.4 million tourists passing their town going from Las Vegas to Death Valley.

“And guess what? They had nowhere to stop to get clean restrooms, coffee and souvenirs! That’s when we realized that all the knowledge we have received while living in Hawaii, we can now use in our Nevada retail shop,” said Quinata.

Alina Quinata makes Hawaiian scented candles that come in coconut bowls and reusable acacia bowls. They’re very popular among locals and tourists. (Courtesy: Alina Quinata)

T-shirts, mugs, magnets, stickers, local arts and crafts, and yes, bath and body products, can be found at Death Valley (DV) Marketplace located at 3280 Bell Vista Ave, Pahrump, NV. The products are made locally but now have a desert theme. Quinata adds that they’re very happy to be the first and official tourist rest stop in their town, serving those who pass by.

“I was always thinking about other people. Asking myself questions like: ‘What scents would they like to buy’ or ‘What price would they like to pay,’ and later in life, this became a main formula in my business, always trying to think of what others want,” said Quinata.

So how does she describe the scents of Hawaii?

“They take me back to one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It smells like beauty, it feels like youth, it reminds me of adventures, and when I want to go back to a particular moment, for instance, I light a plumeria candle and end up on Maui, walking down the stairs of Grand Wailea and witnessing the most unrealistic sunset — this is what plumeria smells to me. I can describe each Hawaiian scent in the same way.”

Alina Quinata, owner of Death Valley (DV) Marketplace

“White Hawaiian ginger? How about hikes in Iao Valley? You can feel ancient energy there!” she continued. “So Hawaiian ginger smells ancient to me, it is very powerful and special. Hawaiian pikake lei flower? If you are familiar with the history of Hawaii, you know that this flower was the most favorite of Princess Kaiulani. Pikake smells royal to me, very noble and aristocratic.”

All of her Hawaiian scented products are online only at this moment, as they work to expand on a variety of scents. To purchase one of Quinata’s products, click here.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

“For each of us, the scents of Hawaii will smell differently and have different meanings,” said Quinata, “but in most cases, they smell like happiness… Enjoy your journey, and if you get on a bumpy road, inhale some aloha, in any form, even if it’s just a candle, delivered to your doorsteps.”