Who We Are
Desmond Liang and his wife founded Oki Social as art focused social event business in 2015. In our early days, we partnered with local artists to host social events such as paint night, sea glass jewelry making, etc.
Later our founders discovered an opportunity to create good quality Okinawa centric artworks and gifts for folks who love and appreciate Okinawa, its people, its natural environment, and its slow island lifestyle.
Where We Come From
During their first year in Okinawa, our founders spent an entire year going around the island to study Okinawa and meet locals. With a ton of stories and information accumulated after this year-long exploration, Desmond created the Okinawa Story Map to tell the stories of Okinawa.
The first copy of Okinawa Story Map was sold without packaging during an art event at Amelia Earhart Intermediate School on Kadena Air Force Base. The following weekend, Desmond took forty copies of the map to a local flea market, and they were all sold out in one day.
Following his passion for art and design, Desmond started to fill the needs of those looking for high-quality, meaningful, locally produced, Okinawa-centric gifts. In talking with many people who love Okinawa, he found that most souvenirs sold in Okinawa come from overseas, designed and made by people who have never lived in Okinawa. From there, it took us a few years to design, create, and put our products in stores across Okinawa.
Give Before We Take
Selling products has never been the primary mission in Oki Social. Behind the scene, we invest the majority of our profit into supporting the artist community in Okinawa. We host art and business focus workshops to help artists become entrepreneurs. We support our local school’s art event every year since 2016 by bringing artists to the event to host workshops for students. We build a marketplace called Okinawa Creators Fest for artists to showcase their craft and reach out to a broader range of audiences. We believe if we raise members of our community, our community will raise us too.
Ohana Community Store
In March 2021, we opened up our gift shop at the Kadena Exchange, a shopping mall inside the Kadena Air Force base in Okinawa. It is a small kiosk shop, yet it is an important milestone. For the first time, we get to steer our own ship. In addition, we have control over how our products are displayed.
In addition to selling Oki Social’s original product, we also broke the ground to become No.1 in a few niches. We are the 7th community shop in Okinawa – the rest has vanished in the supermall era . Community shop used to be a popular business model in Okinawa before big corporations poured investment into Okinawa. A community shop is a shop founded and operated by community members for the sole purpose of serving the community.
We called our shop Ohana Community Shop. Ohana is a Hawaiian word for family, and we want the shop to be a hub for people who are seeking locally made, Okinawa focused arts and gifts. We pride ourselves on having 100% SOFA members on staff and the only kiosk in the Kadena Exchange to feature local artists and creators in Okinawa.
Oki Social Gallery in Naha
We are so fortunate to experience exponential growth even during the COVID19 pandemic in 2020. In the time of crisis, we learned that people were even more desperately finding ways to connect and heal. Many Oki Social fans see Okinawa as the oasis, a mental hideout, an emotional safe harbor because they spent the best years of their lives on the island. As more customers sought us to purchase original Okinawa art, we decided to build a gallery in Naha to gather and display artworks by local artists. We opened the gallery in May 2021. As the pandemic fades away, we wish this space will bring together artists and art fans on Okinawa and beyond.
Why Art? Why Okinawa?
As a form of communication, the beauty of art is that it is capable of reaching the part of the human soul that doesn’t understand words, but it understands feelings, emotions, and connections. When we see a piece of artwork that resonates to our own experience, we feel connected to the artist who created it.
We believe what our audiences are not looking for a painting on the wall. Instead, they crave for the connection with someone who can capture the best of their experience in Okinawa. I am lucky to be in that position.– Desmond Liang
It is a privilege to be in the position to listen to so many people about their happy stories in Okinawa, and then turn them into art and gifts to spread the magic of Okinawa.
Today, Oki Social is a trusted partner for many local organizations include businesses, charities, and business associations. Our products are sold all over Okinawa and we recently opened an online shop for Okinawa lovers overseas. With your support, we continue to support the local art community every day in Okinawa.
Keep In Touch With Oki Social
Thank you so much for your time and attention. Thank you for supporting your Okinawa local artist. If you would like to follow our journey and see what we are working on, there are many ways you can interact with us.
On a Social Media Cleansing Diet?
We send out monthly updates on what happens within our team, new designs, new products, and our outlook into the future – more or less like an email update from a friend.