Castle High School – Class of 1994
Co-Founder / Owner: FITTED
When you ask Keola Rapozo what he was like as student at James B. Castle High School in Kaneohe, he’ll tell you that he did just enough to get by. His interests? Less about class and more about hanging out with his friends and all the pretty girls. “I was slackness,” he recalls.
Yet, when it came to his high school graduation in 1994 and moving on to further his education, Rapozo would prove to do much more than just get by.
He began working toward his liberal arts degree at Windward Community College. Three quarters of the way in, he switched his focus to fashion, working three jobs while simultaneously going to school. He was a valet, worked at Kaneohe Chevron, and he developed a handmade women’s clothing line called Esoteric.
After earning his degree in Fashion Technology, Rapozo landed an official position in the art department of Tori Richard. He spent the next five years there, sharpening his skills and developing a hard work ethic that would define his career. In August 2004, just ten years after high school graduation, Rapoza co-founded the successful and world-renowned brand and clothing line, FITTED.
Each day he wakes up, Rapozo is thankful for the opportunity to “feed my soul with new information.” He is grateful for a quality of life that “no price tag can be put on.” Even more, he says, “Knowing that you don’t have to hustle for your next meal, the comfort in that is something that gets me up every day.”
What would you go back and tell your teenage self?
I would say “set more goals.” Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there, so you can achieve your goals. And 100%, experience as much as you can. The more wholesome experiences you have, the more you become an expert. Whether you play a sport or you’re in the band – experiences are character-building.
The best advice you ever received?
From Tori Richard founder, Mortimer Feldman: Don’t be afraid of hard work.
From my 11th grade Economics teacher: Delayed gratification.
(Delayed gratification refers to the ability to put off something mildly fun or pleasurable now, in order to gain something that is more fun, pleasurable, or rewarding later. For example, you could watch TV the night before an exam, or you could practice delayed gratification and study for the exam.)
Who from present day or history would you drop everything for to have a conversation with?
I have so many names running through my head. Kalanimoku, Kekuhaupiʻo, Kamehameha…I can’t name just one.
What does Hawaii mean to you?
Hawaii has given me everything I know. All the moral characteristics: a person who is fair and treats people properly, and who makes decisions based on certain traditional values. It has given me my culture, my family. Growing up here and having the contrast of the city, the beach, the mountains, hunting, and fishing. Hawaii means a circle. It means it never ends. It’s an indescribable feeling, but I can close my eyes, and I can feel it. It’s a beautiful song and a dance in my head. I’m forever indebted to this land and what it has given me.