Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with David DeLuca, owner of da Shop: books + curiosities, located in Honolulu, HI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is storytelling. We are an independent book publisher that opened a boutique bookstore to celebrate what we feel is the art of making books. Our store is meant to be a community resource that celebrates the diversity of books, voices, and stories that connect us all. We focus on nationally and internationally recognized titles covering children's literature, young adults, non-fiction, fiction, Hawaiiana and Oceania, as well as special interest categories.

After 40+ years of publishing, we decided to open an independent bookstore as a way to bring people together, to interact with one another over the concept of books and stories. In addition to being a highly curated bookshop, we also hold events. We hold a variety of events that allow for us to tie in book titles and themes related to those presentations.

Tell us about yourself

Well, I have been working in publishing for over 15 years. I came from an independent filmmaking and education background. So in a lot of ways, the transition to publishing was still rooted in storytelling, like filmmaking, but through a different medium.

So much of our family publishing business and the publications we put out for Hawaiian and Pacific Island Studies was influenced and guided by traveling through the islands, meeting and talking story with educators. Those conversations were very much our guide map for what types of content and publications we would develop. Our reason for working to open an independent bookstore was much of the same motivation, but from the opposite perspective, i.e. instead of us going out, we could create a space where people could come in.

Although reading can be a very personal experience, we have learned that people also do like to share their experiences with one another. Our goal with da Shop was to open a place around that concept, shared experiences, and a shared experience around stories.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Hmmm . . . that is tough to answer because I think you are always looking to grow personally and professionally as a business owner. Nothing that I accomplish is done without the assistance of others. I have an amazing team that also shares the mission and passion of our business. To me, that must be the greatest accomplishment. To have created a business concept and an environment that people with similar interests buy into and enjoy working within in order to make it grow is what I would consider my greatest accomplishment as a business owner.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

That is directly tied to the "biggest accomplishment" question. The hardest challenge is working to build and motivate a team of individuals to come together around a shared vision and execute it through a business concept. It can be a tough challenge to regularly remind yourself to listen to others, to evaluate what they are saying and what can be taken from that to help improve your business.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Listen to and value what others bring to the table to help your business grow. We are lifelong learners, and it is important that we incorporate the constant need for personal growth into our professional life.
  2. Create definitive business goals and objectives for the long term and then map out how to achieve them in small steps. If you know you want to have a business that provides a service or a product, then define what that is and how you can go about achieving that.
  3. Be thick-skinned. If you start, run, and grow a business, you will have critics, you will be discouraged, and you will have failures. These can all range in form, but learn from them and know that they are not indications of whether or not you can be successful but rather parts of the process that can be learned from and lead to success.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I would encourage anyone who may come across this to realize that work and creating a successful business is not everything in life. If you do not like what you are doing, then don't do it. You need something to believe in; you need to have stock and value in whatever you are endeavoring to do. If your goal is to just make money, then go work for someone else and be the best person at that job for someone else. However, if you want to achieve ownership over your own concepts, business, and profession, then pour yourself into it because the financial reward will come. Just remember that time away, a balanced approach to your work is also what helps give you perspective on figuring things out. So make sure to take the time to rest, travel, to be with family and friends because that is what makes it all worthwhile. It's delayed gratification.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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