November 25th, 2016 / posted by paularath
Vintage Marimekko with artful stitching  Photos by Jerry Mayfield

Vintage Marimekko with artful stitching                                     Photos by Jerry Mayfield

Quite a few people have been asking when and where they can buy my new art cards. Well…..the answer is tomorrow (Saturday, November 26) at the Mission Houses Museum Craft Fair. Fair hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I know it’s very last minute, but hey, weren’t you planning to go to this fabulous craft fair anyway? It’s always been my favorite of all the holiday fairs, and this year my dear sister, Roberta Cullen, invited me to share her booth. Her line of jewelry is called Fashioned by Roberta. 

Original watercolor painting by Paula, created in Stowe, Vermont

Original watercolor painting by Paula, created in Stowe, Vermont

Find my cards along with Roberta’s jewelry at the ‘Ewa side of the fair, near where you cross the street to get to Kawaihao Church.

Vintage Marimekko with artful stitching

Vintage Marimekko with artful stitching

Image of river rocks on Irish linen

Image of river rocks on Irish linen

I’m really having fun with these art cards. My process is totally organic; I sit down with a pile of compatible materials around me and just start stitching. I change the thread and bobbin about every five minutes and I destroy sewing machine needles like you wouldn’t believe.

Vntage Marimekko with contrasting stitching

Vntage Marimekko with contrasting stitching

You will find some more traditional Christmas cards, with “Mele Kalikimaka” on palaka fabric, but there are also some abstract red-and-green fabric cards that whisper “Christmas” without shouting it.

This antique Chinese silk came from the collection of one of my mother's friends who brought it out of China.

This antique Chinese silk came from the collection of one of my mother’s friends who brought it out of China.

Need thank-you cards for all those lovely gifts you will receive and friends’ homes where you will go for egg nog? How about a “Mahalo” card that’s original art? I’ve got ‘em, complete with embroidery on palaka.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas tree in there.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas tree in there. Can’t you see it?

A splash of vibrant red for the holidays.

A splash of vibrant red for the holidays.

My cards cost about what you might pay for an ordinary printed card at a stationary store. But each of them is a one-of-a-kind little piece of art – some people are framing them – selling for just $6 or $8. Or a real deal at four for $20 or four for $30 (for the embroidered cards).

Berta and I hope to see you at the Mission Houses Museum Craft Fair!

- Paula Rath

 

November 22nd, 2016 / posted by paularath
Two of Jerry's cornucopias, painted for the Palama Thanksgiving party.

Jerry’s cornucopias, painted for the Palama Settlement Thanksgiving party. That’s Jerry with Dawn Yoshimura, who is taking over the Palama watercolor classes.

When Jerry is asked to create a project, he goes all-out. It must be the surgeon in him – to always strive to go above and beyond what’s expected.

So when I asked him to create a cornucopia for the Palama Settlement Thanksgiving party for the keiki, he created a cornucopia to end all cornucopias. That’s his creation on the right. Isn’t it glorious?

The thing is, the cornucopia was meant to be covered up. It was just to be used as a backdrop. It was part of an activity that allowed the keiki to get a free Thanksgiving meal. Here’s how it worked:

The Palama keiki made turkeys with outlines from their hands, as well as writing what they are thankful for on a paper and attaching it to a cornucopia.

The Palama keiki made turkeys with outlines from their hands, as well as writing what they are thankful for on a paper and attaching it to a cornucopia.

The keiki (up to age 12) colored a paper in the shape of a papaya or pineapple or banana or squash. Then they wrote on it something for which they are thankful. This became their ticket to receive a free Thanksgiving meal with all the tirmmings. (Except for pumpkin pie. We have learned they don’t like pumpkin pie, so we asked them to vote on a dessert. They chose pineapple with li hing mui powder and ice cream!)

The keiki also drew an outline around their hands and transformed these into drawings of turkeys. They had so much fun with these activities!

The keiki gave thanks for their families, their teachers, and a plethora of other aspects of their lives.

The keiki gave thanks for their families, their teachers, and a plethora of other aspects of their lives.

The lines were long and enthusiastic for the turkey meal.

For many of our Palama keiki, this will be their only Thanksgiving meal this year.

For many of our Palama keiki, this will be their only Thanksgiving meal this year. The Palama staff love serving to them!

Students from the Palama Settlement arts classes entertained the crowd with hula and ukulele performances.

Palama plans to expand our music program to include other instruments, just as we used to do in the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and with Brother Noland in the ’80s and ’90s. Got any good instruments you aren’t using? We can find a child for them!

Palama's hula class entertained.

Palama’s hula class entertained the capacity crowd. David Kawada (in the background) was our emcee. We are so lucky to have a professional radio man on our staff! David broadcasts the UH women’s basketball games.

The ukulele class performs hapa haole tunes.

The ukulele class performs hapa haole tunes.

If you are looking for an outstanding not for profit organization to donate to at the end of the year, please consider Palama Settlement. There is so much more that we want to do!

www.palamasettlement.org.

- Paula Rath

November 19th, 2016 / posted by paularath
This looks like a plain cup, but when it's filled with hot water, it makes a rainbow. Ah, rainbows and unicorns!

This looks like a plain cup, but when it’s filled with hot water, it makes a rainbow. Ah, rainbows and unicorns!

Sedona in Ward Centre held an open house today for media folks to introduce their new gift ideas for the holidays.

Malia Johnson is an excellent buyer, who looks far and wide (she just returned from Las Vegas and NYC) for gifts that are on trend but also uplifting, positive, humorous or irreverent.

These are a popular item in NOrthern California now, especially since they are made in San  Francisco. Malia makes an effort to find things that are made in Hawaii, made in the USA, or have an ecologically sound pedigree. (Check out the recycled saris repurposed into beautiful scarves and the bags made of fishing wire.)

These are a brand new popular item in Northern California now, especially since they are made in San
Francisco.

Sedona’s success is evident in its ever-widening storefront. While so many businesses in the Kaka’ako area disappear or shrink, Sedona just keeps on growing.

Malia makes an effort to find things that are either made in Hawaii, made in the USA, or have an ecologically sound pedigree. (Check out the recycled saris repurposed into beautiful scarves. Also the hand  bags made of fishing wire.)

Irreverence is a characteristic of many of the Sedona gift items. A little bit quirky also works. Love kitties? How about Keane-style kitties?

Awwwwww...

Awwwwww…

One of the things I love about Kaka’ako businesses is that they often celebrate and help one another by cross-marketing.

The new bakery, Flour and Butter, by baker Jennifer Daza, had an impressive presence at Sedona today.

Sweets from Flour + Butter

Sweets from Flour + Butter

When visiting Sedona and its neighbor Red Pineapple, don’t forget to bop across the street to South Shore Market. It’s a holiday treasure trove as well!

- Paula Rath

 

November 13th, 2016 / posted by paularath
Lo and her staff

Lo and her staff

The first time I met Lo Kaimuloa was in the Lihue airport. She was dealing with huge cases of accessories she had brought to the Garden Isle for a trunk show. Riches was a brand new business and she was reaching out to neighbor islands. I was a brand new fashion writer and broadcaster and was immediately taken with Lo’s great taste and eye for design talent.

As Riches Kahala turns 30, I must salute Lo and her incredible staff for the success of this little retail gem. Small? Yes – for its first 16 years, Riches was 87 square feet; now it’s 200 – but a powerhouse in the Honolulu accessories world.

Bliss Lau, New York jewelry designer, born and raised in Honolulu

Bliss Lau, New York jewelry designer, born and raised in Honolulu.  Photo courtesy Bliss Lau

Lo has discovered, and given a chance to, dozens of local designers who have thrived under her tutelage and often risen to national and international acclaim.

One fine example is Bliss Lau. Bliss is a Honolulu girl who went to Punahou, then on to Parson School of Design. Right out of school, she began as a handbag designer, and Lo grabbed up her bags. As Bliss segued into jewelry, Lo kept pace with her success, ordering each category as Bliss grew.

Lo said when she met Bliss, “I just took one look at her and knew she was going to be incredibly successful. You look at the design and the workmanship and you just know. They (designers such as Bliss) have a love for it, a gift for it, a passion.”

When she spots this passion, Lo does everything she possibly can to nurture the designer and introduce them to the business of fashion accessories. “I’m happy to help because it’s a hard, hard business, especially if you’re a one-man show,” she said.

Charm bracelets by Beachcomber Design

Charm bracelets by Beachcomber Design

Lo helped her BFF from age 12, Cori Rilliet, take her passion for collecting shells and beach glass on Oahu beaches into a successful business. With constant mentoring from Lo, Cori began with lamps and picture frames and segued into jewelry. “She’s awesome,” Cori said. “I was nervous because the things in her shop were much more elegant than mine, but she was so gracious and said, yeah, of course, let’s see how it goes.”

Cori often travels with Lo on buying trips to NYC and L.A. “She has an eye that goes so quickly. She knows what she wants and what works for her clients and that’s a great quality to have.”

Among the other local designers Lo has launched and helped along the way are:

  • Hands in the Sand
  • Jana Lam
  • Paradisus
  • Two Hands
  • Catherine Weitzman
  • Bliss Lau
  • Kimberley Le

…and that list could go on and on.

Jana Lam's bags have taken off in Honolulu.

Jana Lam’s bags have taken off in Honolulu. Riches Kahala had them first.

Riches Kahala is often way ahead of its time. Sometimes that is a boon and sometimes it’s a bit of a bust.

For example, Kate Spade: Lo and her hanai brother, Herman, who often goes on buying trips, spotted the line in NYC and bought the minimalist backpacks. “I brought it in and every single person said ‘Have you lost your mind?’” Her Kate Spade went on sale. Then her customers started seeing the line in NYC and they came home with a different attitude. And that was years before Kate Spade turned up in Neiman Marcus and later in her own stores.

In addition to Kate Spade, Riches has been ahead of its time bringing in national and international lines such as:

  • Isabella Fiori
  • Jose and Maria Barrera
  • Save My Bag
  • Stewart Stand
  • Gerard Yosca
  • Pietro NYC
  • Laggo
  • Helen Kaminski
  • Ippolita
Ippolita bracelets

Ippolita bracelets   Photo courtesy Ippolita

Ippolita, which now buys full-page ads in Vogue and is sold in Neiman Marcus, was first carried in Hawaii by Riches. “I knew her husband and he asked me to look at her work,” Lo explained. “It was called Seno at first and I told her she should cal it by her name, Ippolita. We sold it as Seno and we always had to put it on sale before it caught fire” around the world.

124_pietro_logo_released_type-01-uai-2064x576

Pietro NYC is one of her hottest current lines. “I’m trying to get quality, beautiful Italian leather products that aren’t $2,000,” she said. It’s also important that the bags are made in Manhattan, not China.

Another hot line is Laggo, which is made in L.A.

“About ten years ago, I made an attempt to buy things that are not made in China. I want things made in Hawaii or at least, the USA,” Lo said. “My clientele is very happy about this and they didn’t mind paying more for a quality product” made in our country.

Lo with her long time manager, Kelli.

Lo with her long time manager, Kelli.

At a time when retail employees change jobs almost as often as they change cell phones (and spend most of their working hours on said phones), the majority of Lo’s sales women have been with her for many years.

For example, Lo’s manager, Kelli Coffin, has been with her since 1995. She took a few breaks to get married and have children and try something a little different, but she always came back to Riches and to Lo, who is like a hanai mother to her. Sabrina Awana, Sammi Tom, Kristyn Wong and Lei Ann Agag, have all been with Riches for many years. “New girls,” who started working there this year, are Maria Ambrosio and Erica Elisha.

Lo, who has two sons, sees all her employees as “her girls.” “I’ve watched my girls become strong, beautiful young women. They were just little girls when they joined me,” she said. “It’s not easy to work by yourself. You have to be super-motivated and love what you do to be in a small environment and motivate yourself.”

Riches feels more like a “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name” –  and your personal taste.

The kiosk effect allows Lo and “her girls” to get to know each customer personally and they often talk story. Lo said there are days when they feel like psychologists or bartenders.

“Integrity is really important to me and our clients trust us,” Lo said.

Another key to Riches Kahala’s success is entirely behind the scenes. Lulu Ying has worked with Lo since the beginning, doing the bookkeeping, human resources, party planning – you name it. Lo says she could not have done the business without Lulu.

Lo chooses her designers according to the kind of people they are, rather than just by their accessories and their popularity. “The most important thing in my line is the designers I have to deal with are kind, good people. I don’t care how hot (a line) is, I won’t bring it in if the designers are not good people. Because it’s about what we put into the world and that has never changed.”

And, after 30 years, it’s evident that it never will.

- Paula Rath

 

 

 

 

November 12th, 2016 / posted by paularath
Palama Settlement's clay classes show their work at ARTs at Marks

Palama Settlement’s clay classes show their work at ARTs at Marks

For about five years or so, the Hawaii Potters Guild has been teaching classes to the elementary school students at Palama Settlement. The classes are held on Wednesdays, in five-week sessions, because the keiki get out of school early on Wednesdays and it gives them a productive way to spend the afternoon – and keeps them off the streets. In the past couple of years, clay classes have expanded to the Palama teens.

Palama Settlement board member, Jason Ito of Kyo-Ya Corporation, talks story with one of the Palama teens whose work is in the exhibit.

Palama Settlement board member, Jason Ito of Kyo-Ya Corporation, talks story with one of the Palama teens whose work is in the exhibit.

I love the clay program at Palama because it’s such a fine example of a volunteer project that totally works. Classes are lead by Rayna Galati, outreach organizer for the Hawaii Potters’ Guild. She is ably assisted by Michelle Ferguson. Together they take care of everything, from securing the budget (clay is not cheap!) to giving lessons, to making brownies.

They have found that the students respond best to themes and this year’s theme was “Ocean Creatures”. They let their imaginations go wild with manta rays, honu and octopus. And they’re not afraid of color!

Love the bold red octopus!

Love the bold red octopus!

Since many Hawaii schools no longer offer art classes, this program is especially important. If you run into anyone from the Hawaii Potters’ Guild, please tell them how much their kokua is appreciated. And if you happen to be in Chinatown during the next few weeks, do pop in to the gallery to see this beautiful work. It’s up through the month of November.

- Paula Rath