Tristen Ikaika (né Tristen Amal Ikaikamaikai’ikaneokalani Persons) was fascinated with a family friend’s rings made from spoons. He was only 12 years old when his father showed him how to make the rings and set up a workshop in the garage for him. For seven years, he made the rings for himself and his friends.
And then he became fascinated with Instagram and gained a large following as he traveled around this country and the world, sharing his adventures via professional-caliber photos and videos. Eventually, his followers became interested in the cool rings that Tristen wore on each of his fingers. He started out with selling a few. Today, he sells entire collections in less than a day—sometimes in an hour!
Tristen tells travel stories with his photos and videos. Instead of the “calendar art” that’s been done to death (e.g., the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal), he shares with his followers images of everyday life, off the beaten path, and the funny experiences he has along the way. His itineraries range from the familiar (Anaheim, Hawaii [his father’s home state], Canada) to far-off (geographically and culturally) locations (e.g., Iceland, Bali, Dubai). Wherever he goes, he finds the most decorative and unusual spoons.
Tristen Ikaika, Marketing Master
Tristen only advertises on Instagram, and yet he has come up with a winning marketing strategy.
- He has a unique product. The rings are entirely handmade from spoon handles (and the occasional fork handle), individually crafted to the customer’s ring size. In addition, the spoons are sourced during his travels and his “treasure hunts” in antique stores, flea markets, and his friends’ grandparents’ silver chests—which is why he has such distinctive patterns. Also, customers are welcome to provide their own spoons.
- He keeps his customers engaged. Tristen posts daily Instagram stories, e.g., how he makes the rings, experiences that his followers send in, invitations to submit names for the rings in his latest collection. He has found that the more he interacts with his customers on Instagram, the more interested and loyal they become, and the more new followers join.
- He limits the supply. He releases a small collection of rings about once a month, fueling the anticipation with a countdown clock on his website. His followers set an alarm for the day and time. Some clear their calendars so that they will be available at that exact time. The rings go that fast! Also, those that submit names are anxious to see if their suggestions made the cut.
- He carries through the personal touch. Every order arrives with a thank you card, signed by Tristen and featuring a travel picture associated with that ring.
“What’s in a Name?”
Unlike Shakespeare, Tristen and his fans feel that the names of the rings are of the utmost importance. He chooses names that are funny, relevant, irreverent and entertaining: puns, lyrics, jokes (particularly inside jokes), pop culture references.
Tristen is a Kanye West fan, so there is the “I Miss the Cold Kanye” ring and the “You’re Such an Eskimo, I Love it” ring inspired by West’s lyrics. Also, he has used rap lyrics by Drake and Lil Pump. Even Starbucks got in on it with the ring, “Lil Pumpkin Ice Latte.” There’s a ring named, “Pilot Pete Really Messed This One Up,” referring to, I suppose, something awful Peter did during his stint on The Bachelor.
Tristen is aware that his business is open to poaching. Companies have copied his ideas, the rings, the packaging. He is unconcerned. He feels it motivates him, but also, he is secure in the name he has made for himself and the “mystique” that surrounds his rings. It isn’t simply about silver rings made from spoon handles; it is about Tristen and his travels and the meaning that that gives the rings.