PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF KELLEIGH STEWART
INTERVIEW BY LINDSEY KESEL
Kelleigh Stewart was raised in the farming community of Draper, Utah. Her father was a farrier/blacksmith (aka cowboy) and her mom, an Avon lady. She spent a decade in Portland before buying a dilapidated farm in Puna, Hawai‘i off of Craigslist. Today, the restored farm serves as a home base where she and her husband, along with their staff, farm, mill, and roast beans to provide specialty-grade coffees for customers of the two wholesale companies she co-owns, Big Island Coffee Roasters and Paradise Roasters.
“For me, blue collar work is a deeply honest and real form of work,” says Stewart. “Perhaps it can be reduced to a particular love language, or being a bit obsessive to aim for the highest quality work in what you do, but I strongly feel that the passion you put into the product becomes the respect and appreciation you have for the people you’re providing it to.”
What is your tattoo?
On the top of her back, she has a blackberry bush and sycamore tree that are transitioning between their spring and autumn stages.
When did you get it?
She got inked in 2006 by famed Portland artist James Kern.
What was the inspiration?
This tattoo marks a particularly blissful time in Stewart’s life when she spent much of her days harvesting Oregon’s prolific berries, wild and cultivated mushrooms, figs, and nuts, and making yogurts and kefirs. Her husband farmed organic vegetables at a local CSA, and she would often dream up creative meals for the week with whatever random assortments he came home with. “I had quit my higher- paying, career-line position at the American Red Cross’ national blood laboratory to try something different, and I’m so glad I did,” she says. “It afforded me the time to delve into what I’m now passionate about: serving people and high-end local products.”
In our 2015 Winter “Skin” issue, edible Hawaiian Islands ran a story called “Culinary Ink,” featuring five incredible local personalities with food-related tattoos. It became one of our most popular issues to date, but we regretted the fact that we didn’t get a chance to highlight any inked women (though not for lack of trying!). This is the long overdue follow-up, where we showcase ladies from four islands who love food so much they’ve creatively stamped themselves with captivating foodie artwork.