October 6th, 2011 / posted by paularath

Photos courtesy of Aloma Wang.

The Pacific Gateway Center is just a bit off the beaten track for First Fridays but it shouldn’t be. There’s a lot going on there, especially during First Fridays.

This week, being the first Friday in October, Pacific Gateway Center will celebrate Oktoberfest with free German food and three local beers (not free, but reasonable). Hours are 5 to 11 p.m.

In addition, emerging designer Alona Wang, who is originally from Sri Lanka, will introduce her line of unusual lei hulu as well as beaded bracelets featuring beautiful beads from her native land.

Aloma was visiting family in Australia when she saw her niece wearing a bracelet that inspired her. As an interior designer, she has a passion for color and the colorful beads quickly became a passionate pursuit.

“I had never done beaded jewelry before but I just picked it up as a hobby. So many friends admired my bracelets and asked me to make them one to go with an outfit. My intention was not to sell them. I just liked them and gave them as gifts.” She enjoyed collecting beads in Sri Lanka and on her travels. 

 Then Alona got hooked and began making more and more and more. When Tin Myaing Thein of Pacific Gateway offered her a place to sell her bracelets, she decided that was a good solution for her burgeoning unintended inventory.

Aloma’s love for lei hulu came from her love for hula. As a member of Hula i ka Wekiu, she was asked to make her own lei hulu for a dance performance. It was love at first touch.

“I studied with Aunty Paulette Kahalepuna and she taught me one style of the lei. Then I took what I learned in a new direction. She was really pleased that I finished it and I got her blessing to go on making them,” Aloma said.

Aloma looks upon her lei hulu as an accessory to wear with any outfit, not only hula attire. She often creates lei hulu to go with a friend’s or customer’s special occasion outfit. “Now I would like to sell some because I enjoy it so much I want to make more – and I have so many ideas,” she said.

While the food for Pacific Gateway Center’s Oktoberfest is free, donations are gratefully accepted. Pacific Gateway Center serves a large community of recent immigrants, helping them learn English, find jobs and navigate through the complexities of their new home, Hawaii.

Pacific Gateway Center is located at 83 North King Street. Phone 851-7010 for more information.

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