Nalu Ukulele Company
Our promise to you is very simple: Nalu builds ukuleles that have an outstanding sound, beautiful appearance, and structural integrity at a price accessible to the majority of players. What does this mean in the real world? It means we’ve done extensive research and prototyping in order to find the perfect intersection between the quality of sound, the materials used and the cost of production. Every piece of wood, binding, nut, saddle, component, and inlay has been tested, tested again, and specifically selected for each of our ukuleles. In the end, a Nalu ukulele simply sounds fantastic, is built to last and can be appreciated by hobbyists and professional musicians alike.
As a company, Nalu Ukulele is a labor of love for the four people involved. For Rick and Mark, best friends since growing up together in Hawaii, Nalu is a chance to contribute to their own rich cultural and familial heritage in a meaningful way. For Gary, as someone who’s promoted and sold ukuleles long before its current renaissance, Nalu is the opportunity to put his accumulated knowledge into an ukulele that he would be proud to put his name on. And for Kevan, Nalu is the chance to focus his passion for music and his years as a marketer into making and selling something that truly matters.
Kevan has spent over thirty years developing integrated strategies that defined and refined the branding and business objectives of some our our nation’s top brands. Kevan’s career began as a partner in the Boston-based Gibbs+King agency, continued on to Kansas City’s Barkley (where he launched the very first Blackberry on an unsuspecting public) and then landed in Los Angeles, with branding communications powerhouse, Sagon-Phior (where he met our very own Rick Rasay). Today, in addition to his ongoing role with Nalu, Kevan maintains founder/partner positions in his eponymous marketing consultancy; prairie360, a new marketing company; RadGrad, an education start-up; and in two music services/support start-ups, Collective Vibe and TouraLoura.
Kevan is a film and theatre alum of the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk), father of three grown children and lives in Kansas City. In his downtime, Kevan is a huge film buff, a tireless live music fan and is determined to revisit his misspent youth playing in bands and get back up on stage one of these days.
Mark grew up best friends with Nalu’s Rick Rasay on the beautiful island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. Following high school, Mark moved to Los Angeles to attend college, receiving his Bachelors in Sociology/Urban Studies from UCLA. After receiving his law degree from The University of California’s Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, Mark returned to Los Angeles to set up a solo law practice. Over the years, his practice has become one of most recognized adoption-focused law practices in all of California. To date, Mark has completed well over 7,000 adoptions and was recently honored in Los Angeles by Olive Crest Adoption Agency and recognized as one of its "Stars in Adoption." McKinley Children's Center also gave Mark special recognition for his assistance with its adoption program. Mark was also previously recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for his adoption services in connection with the L.A. County foster care system.
Mark occupies his time away from the office by playing in Pumana, a semi-traditional Hawaiian band and taking full advantage of the year-round access to hiking, biking, and kayaking that Southern California offers. Mark used to surf growing up in Hawaii, but gave it up when he came to California. He says it’s because the water is too cold (we think it has to do with watching too many episodes of “Shark Week”).
It’s fair to say that Rick and the ukulele have been inseparable since birth. Born on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii, Rick grew up with an ukulele in his hand. From family gatherings to church camp bonfires, there was never a moment when Rick doesn’t remember playing and singing the traditional songs of his native Hawaii. Later, as a student at California College of the Arts, getting his BFA in Illustration/Design, Rick met Jack Ford, a professor with a passion for Hawaii, its people and Hawaiiana collectibles, especially ukuleles. As a result of this mentoring friendship, Rick was soon able to become one of the top collectors, historians and appraisers of ukuleles on the West Coast. Nalu Ukulele, however, is a dream come true for Rick. Nalu’s ukuleles are born from his heritage, musicianship, design skills and passion. However, no matter how popular Nalu ukuleles become, you’ll always be able to find Rick performing somewhere. Recently, with his Nalu tenor firmly in hand, Rick formed Garden Island Blend, Trader Vic’s house band in Emeryville, CA.
Rick, a much sought-after graphic designer in the Bay Area, is married to wife Terri and lives in Union City, California. He has a son and daughter and, when he’s not having his shoulder operated on, coaches high school volleyball.
Gary Rogers is a true renaissance man. There are few people that can claim a management career with UPS, playing tuba in a swing band, a love affair with surfing (in 50 degree water mind you!) and ukulele entrepreneur as easily as Gary. This native Texan, who now calls Northern California home, actually knew he’d someday be building ukuleles due to an experience he had with a crappy guitar when he was ten (ask him the story...he loves to tell it). His love affair with the ukulele began in 1983 when his soon-to-be wife gave him a banjo uke as a gift. Several ukes and a trip to Hawaii later, Gary was hooked. So much so, in fact, that in 2005, he purchased Jumping Flea, one of the first online ukulele stores. A few years later, Gary, Rick and Mark would meet in a chance encounter at the San Diego Ukulele Festival, become fast friends and ta-da...Nalu Ukulele was born.
Gary is married, has a teenage daughter, lives in Arcata, California and is proud to wear the title of founder of the Bigfoot Ukulele Group. Not put off by the elements in the least, Gary took up surfing the cool Northern California waters at age 39, a sport he continues today with his daughter.