Thursday, December 31, 2009
And when you live long enough, you realize that events in life come in cycles. There will be good times and not so good of times. The good times give us hope and the strength to survive the bad times. To quote my dad, "You know, Barbie, ....it is kinda like a battery! You've got your positive and you've got your negative." Boy, how I used to hate it when he would say that! He was just boiling life down to the simplest of things....and sometimes my life didn't feel all that simple! "No, dad, life isn't like a battery! Sometimes it is complicated and so complex!" But, guess what! My dad was right! (Dad are you listening?) He knew then what I have come to appreciate as true. And, if you don't have both positive and negative in a battery, you have "no juice"! That energy or life just won't exist.
So, what things added to the positive and the negative of 2009 for me? A year is made up of so many moments. Professionally, I had some amazingly inspirational things happen. A couple that stick out are landing the corporate account that topped off my year with a sale of 235 bags in one order and pushed my total sales above my goal! Also, being 300 miles from home and having a woman come up and say, "Where did you get your Sasaki Bag?" That was cool!
But this year, the best and worst for me were personal, not professional. As most of you know, I live in Hawaii and my family does not. I don't often get to see or hug my kids, parents or siblings. But this year, in April my "baby girl" flew out here. That was truly the best thing of 2009. It was the highlight of my year! She moved away from home right after graduating high school and went off to explore the world. She finished growing into the woman she is, while away from me so at times I still marvel that she is no longer a kid. She is an amazing, beautiful woman!
The worst thing to happen to me in '09 had to be the diagnosis of skin cancer. Not so much the cancer itself, but what it may mean for me in the future. You see, I rarely share this with anyone, but I still have an outside job. I have worked at this separate employment for 13 years. This year, I worked so hard on building Sasaki Bags so that I could possibly quit my other job in the future and just solely work for myself. But when I got this dx, I guess I felt like my dreams were being sucked away....right into this hole in my leg. How can I quit my other job and give up my insurance benefits? How can I keep up this pace of working two full-time jobs and not collapse? It really made me feel sad. Before the dx, I knew that there would be an end in sight. Now...I can't see that.
So that is my best and worst of 2009. Somehow, putting it in writing makes it all sound....so simple....."kinda like a battery". (I love you, Dad!)
a hui hou
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Every since that year, my siblings and myself, though separated by 1000's of miles, email each other with our "best and worst". I love this tradition much more than making resolutions. Some years it has been easy to come up with both a best and worst...other years, I had to ponder a bit longer. It isn't always something "horrible and grand".
I have already chosen my best and worst of 2009...but must wait to share until tomorrow. If anyone one else would like to "play along", please leave a comment about this past year. I would love to hear what has been going on in everyone else's lives.
a hui hou
Friday, December 25, 2009
So, on most days, I wouldn't think of showing you my work area! But today, with my new shelves and after a day of cleaning and organizing my area, you are allowed to peek inside my studio! I am now able to have my designer fabrics, most of which are Amy Butler, in one area, my aloha prints in another and my themed prints in yet another. Wow! Thanks Menehune Man! I still need to pick up some empty bolts to fill with fabric but for now, this is a good start.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
*twirling around, doing a happy dance*
The bag pictured was my 1000 th bag of the year! It went to Janet Lipps of Pacific Islands Gallery.
Only by setting a big goal and breaking it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals, was I able to achieve this total.
Going into the new year, I am already thinking about new goals that I will be setting for myself and my business as a whole. I am trying to manage the growth of Sasaki Bags so that I am able to keep up with projected sales in my existing wholesale accounts. I feel that is more important than adding new venues at this time. Not that I won't be....In fact, I have an exciting announcement that I will be sharing in the coming months. It is pretty big news...but I must do all things at the appropriate time so the announcement must wait.
For me, it isn't about having my product in every store that says they want to carry it. That is flattering but I do not plan to saturate the market in any location. For example, some of the bags that I sell in boutiques, I sell exclusively to those locals. And they are doing a great job of keeping me BUSY! And just because I make bags out of Kona coffee bags, I do not aspire to have every coffee shop carry my bags! I am working hard on "branding" Sasaki Bags so that they can be recognized even before seeing the label. I want to KEEP them in demand...KEEP people wanting more!
So, I have many wonderful things to look forward to in 2010. I am scheduled to be featured in Green Craft magazine in February if all things go as planned.
I will be expanding my business to a place that makes me feel like I have come "full circle". I am really looking forward to sharing that story with you. I love stories that reinforce that there is an unknown reason for many things that happen in our lives...and if we just stick around long enough....we may be blessed with finding out how it all connects!
But none of this will happen if I don't get this studio put back together. This is the stuff night mares are made of! I have found "dust bunnies" the size of Jack Rabbits! So back to the grind...if I may use a coffee phrase...
a hui hou
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
a hui hou
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Here is a link to the posting I wrote following her beach memorial at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. http://sasakibags.blogspot.com/search?q=janelle
a hui hou
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This is available to people with children, homeless people, lonely people...etc. So if you are in the area and can help out in any way via volunteering today doing prep or tomorrow serving, bussing, cleaning up, please do what you can. If you want to help, give Anna a call at 808-327-0209.
Life often goes around and comes around so do what you can, when you can. You never know when it may be you on the other end of the serving line.
a hui hou
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
So anywho...if you are in Kona today, stop in and say hi. I am giving a free gift to anyone who mentions that they read about the show online. My booth is in a new location this year. We will be under the tents at the Old Airport Beach Park Pavilion. The Kona Coffee Festival parade starts at 9am at Huggo's and ends up at the Pavilion. There is lots of free parking and many other booths to see as well. See you there!
a hui hou
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
As a reminder, tomorrow, I will be at Pacific Islands Gallery and gift shop, from 9 am - 3pm.
Now back to the sweat shop so that I have some products to share!
a hui hou!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
So, how should we celebrate when I reach that 1000 mark? Hmmm... any suggestions?
Today my favorite mailman brought me 4 new obis and 2 kimono! I would SO love to open them up and start cutting, but I am pooped! I got up today at 5am and made 12 Xmas stockings with cuffs and 9 tote bags to ship off to Coffees of Hawaii on the island of Molokai. That finished up my order that I can ship out on Monday. I will post some photos before I ship them because I LOVE them! I am very pleased with how they turned out and had fun working with their handpainted bags. But for now it is 10pm, I have been sewing for just about 17 hours today and I think it is time to hit the hay!
a hui hou
Friday, October 30, 2009
I will be offering my new Kaloko bag with the debut on Saturday. It is a small-ish bag with a zip top and convertible, adjustable straps. You can wear it across your body, over the shoulder, around the waist or take the shoulder strap off, attach the wrist strap and carry it as a wristlet!
This is a great time of year to be visiting Kona. There are activities daily starting on Sunday with a concert at the Old Airport Beach Park. For more info on the activities, go to http://www.konacoffeefest.com/
If you are on island, stop up and say hi to me on Saturday. There will be live music, fresh hot kona coffee from the Kings Farm and an artist in house working on a painting.
a hui hou.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Just had to share my big news! More details to come in the near future.
Become a Facebook Fan of Sasaki Bags and see my latest photos and news. Just clik on "become a fan" on the Facebook box I have installed on this page over there on the left upper corner....see, right there! now, clik! Mahalo.
a hui hou
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Most patients with leprosy just want it to be known that "they are not a disease". Don't call them "lepers"! Anymore than you would call a cancer patient "cancers". They are "leprosy patients". A people who suffer with a disease....not the disease itself. This photo was taken from above the settlement of Kalaupapa from the lookout.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tonight, since Menehune Man was working, I got busy and did some cleaning. I basically had to relocate things in order to reclaim our living areas. There was a rogue closet door, used as a cutting table, leaned up against one couch, a couple of bolts of canvas standing ever so casually in a corner by the front door, and pre-cut fabric completely covering said couch. My mom would gasp in horror, I fear!
I hope no one is planning on visiting in the near future because my "guest bedroom" is definately "the burlap room" right now! The bed has about 80 tote bags on it, the closet is full of Rubbermaid bins holding bags and those have now also overflowed onto the floor. Let's just say, that room is definately not "guest friendly" at the moment!
In the near future we are planning to go off island for a couple of days for Menehune Man's Bday. Neither of us have ever been to Molokai yet so we decided it would be a fun place to go. I am really excited about exploring that island. I have seen so many beautiful photos and am curious about seeing Kalapapa, the former home for Hansens disease patients...aka (non PC) leper colony. We have decided not to take the mule tour down though. I think I must be a control freak because after reading the online reviews, walking down seems to be a better choice for my personality type! Plus, I don't want to have a sore behind for the remainder of our vacation!
For those of the Catholic faith, the famed priest, Father Damien who died of Hansens Disease is being cannonized as a Saint today (in Rome) tomorrow here! He died almost 100 years ago but left quite a legacy.
Well, off to bed for this bag maker. Tomorrow is a new day and I have so much to accomplish!
a hui hou
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Today, after two weeks of feeling sorry for Menehune Man, it seems he has shared his bug with me. I woke up at 5am with such a sore throat. I didn't get up again until 11:30 when MM announced that he had made me some soup.So today has been one of those days that a little warm jello would feel so good. Instead of the Richie Rich and Little Lotta, I sat with a remote and watched a full season of Project Runway! I just couldn't bring myself to do much of anything else.
Finally I came into the computer room and decided to catch up on my records. I hadn't updated Augusts' sales yet so needed to add that up since here we are at the end of September! If you will recall, my goal for the year was to make 1000 bags. As of yesterday (since I didn't sew today) I am at 812! With three months left in the year, I am confident that I will reach my goal. It may not be warm jello, but it did cheer me up!
PS...the photo was taken of my big sis feeding me when I had the chicken pox. (a few years ago)
a hui hou
Monday, September 21, 2009
So what am I up to? Well, Sasaki Bags is going to be launching a whole new line of accessories in the next few months. I am not going to tell you any more than that just yet. I just wanted to let you know that I am not sitting by idly watching TV and eating Weight Watchers cheesecake! No siree! I feel like I am either sewing or thinking about sewing and am always looking for fresh ideas. I am still in the prototype stage but it won't be long....
That is it for now! Stay tuned for further updates, clues and sneak peeks!
a hui hou
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I have a favorite saying that goes, "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime". But something that I have discovered on my journey through life is that...it isn't always about ME! (I know that is hard to believe!) Once in a while...a person will come into our life and maybe...just maybe... it is because THEY need whatever it is that WE have to offer or teach THEM. Usually it is hard to know the difference, because when you open yourself to another person, you can't help but grow in some way yourself.
I was reminded of the importance of that kind of friend this week. You see, my mom is the kind of friend that anyone would be lucky to have. She is able to keep a confidence. She is fun to be with. She will be your shopping and going to lunch bud....and if ...heaven forbid....it is time for you to pass out of this life, she will be there to hold your hand. I know this because she has done it more than once...for people that in the beginning, weren't even close friends. But in the last moments of your life....I believe that the one left holding your hand, IS your closest friend at that moment. For some, that has been my mom! Yesterday, she again was there, holding the hand of a friend who only two months and four days before had been "fine". As I recall, this 59 year old woman from mom's church called her to take her to the doctor because she couldn't think straight. She wasn't in pain...but felt something was wrong. Within a few hours, it was determined that this woman had brain cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer. Quite a lot to process.
My mom is not a nurse or a professional caregiver. She is just a wonderful friend who has survived loss in her life. Her mom died when she was only 7, while in a plane being flown to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She died of Addison's disease. Mom was also there with her grandma as she died of cancer. She has also been present when other friends of hers have passed.
My mom is determined not to let a friend die alone. She could have just checked her friend into the hospital and her obligation would have been fulfilled. But instead, for the past two months, she became taxi driver, caregiver, bottom wiper, and confidante. As a daughter, I worried about her over doing it. I know that she is a slight woman, beyond her prime...although she would dispute that fact! But she did what she felt she had to do. I know that it is important to my mom that no person be alone when they die.
Last night I got a short email that just said, "My friend Terri died tonight". I knew she must just be exhausted. I once lost a friend with cancer who I had visited daily and tried to be "up" for. Early on, she had "appointed" me as her official "sense of humor" because she knew that in time, with the chemo, the hair loss, the loss of her breast...the vomiting, fatigue....etc she would probably lose her sense of humor. I took my job very seriously! (as I wore the Groucho Marx glasses!) I insisted that in the final stages, anyone who came into the hospital room to visit my friend, had to put on the Groucho Glasses! My friend would see them and crack up! When they saw her laughing, it was harder to cry! (it is really hard to cry when you "feel funny"!) But...she did die...at age 32...with two small children left behind. The after effect is one of adrenal depletion! (Mom...I understand!)
I called mom today and she described herself as a person who had been trying to run into the wind...a strong Eastern Montana kind of wind....for two months...and then the wind suddenly ceased...and she just fell flat on her face." That is where she was today! In need of a nap!
My mom lives her life without regret. She is my hero! I hope that one day I will be just like her! (when I grow up! ha!) I'm not sure if she was in Terri's life for a reason or a season....but I do know that for Terri, she was blessed to have met my mom! Love you, mimi!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
When you live on an island there is always so much more to consider when scheduling your time. You see, we could have a tropical storm or hurricane, a strike by workers who ship our goods here or just plain old "Hawaiian Time" service. So with the holidays approaching along with the deadline for my big order, a wise bag maker ensures that she has all her supplies on hand!
Through the years I have discovered a thing or two about myself. I am not the type of gal who thrives on drama or adrenaline. I don't like working "under the gun". I like things to run smoothly and as planned. Don't spring unwelcome surprises on me! I like it when people are true to their word and I don't respond well to someone trying to control me. Cinnamon bears are my favorite candy, Casa Blanca Lilies are my favorite flower and bad hair can ruin my day. It doesn't always work out as planned...but in a perfect "Barb's World" that is what you would see. Ah...peace, birds chirping and the sound of Sven humming my favorite tune. ( you girls do know Sven by now, right?) So with all that in mind, I do try to plan my schedule and even prepare for the unexpected. For instance, Menehune Man is sick. Usually that means that in a week or so...I will be sick! So this week I am working OT to cut out linings and coffee bags. I look at MM with his feverish face and can't help but think....OMG, he's had a high fever for 2 days already...I have no time for that kind of sick..(in the event that I get sick)...I have bags to make! So it really is all about time management....
Just a note for anyone who may be wondering if I am still sticking to my Weight Watchers...
Yes, I am. I have lost 10lbs so far. I am really doing it differently this time in hopes that I will be more successful at keeping the LBs off. But thanks for caring....
Now back to the sweat shop!
a hui hou
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Palm Palm over on Kauai has been selling my Kimono Keys like crazy. She said she sold 40 this week alone! So yesterday I whipped up another 37 to ship off to her tomorrow. Then she accidently sold a bag that had been special ordered, so I made a duplicate tonight to include in tomorrow's shipment.
I drove up mauka this week and bought a couple hundred coffee bags. It is a little over 60 miles round trip and makes for a long day. It is fun visiting the farms and chatting with the farmers to see what they are up to.
Dave and Trudy at Heavenly Hawaiian were nice enough to help me with sorting out 40 coffee bags. They are very supportive of my venture.
I also met some new friends at the Kona Pacific co-op. They had heard of my bags and were eager to sell me some of their to add to my collection of Kona Coffee Bags!
Karen and Lee over at Hula Daddy are becoming old friends! Their bag is very popular with my customers. It was nice seeing them again, too!
Tom Bong and Linda up at Bong Brothers are the furthest away on my route. They used to be married, once upon a time but now Linda has the store and Tom does the coffee. Linda's store is at Honaunau. She makes the best vegetarian wraps. I was getting hungry by the time I stopped in there and when I saw this vegie wrap I had to try it! It had tofu, shredded carrots, beets, lettuce and avocado wrapped in some sort of whole-grained tortilla or flatbread.
I also had to buy me some apple bananas and a great big mango from the front porch of the Bong Bros. store. If you are visiting the Big Island, head south, just past the Middle Keei Rd on the makai (ocean) side of the highway. Bong's store is a historic building where you will find some authentic aloha. Now, if I could just talk Tom into reordering his beautiful cardinal logo Bong Bros. coffee bag! I will keep working on him as I have for over a year now.
In the meantime, I think I have a better chance at having Linda print up her own logo of Bong Sistah's on some bags. That would be a fun one!
Something that some people don't know about my business plan is that I like that fact that I use authentic Kona Coffee bags. Yes, I could have my own printed up with "Sasaki Farms" or something similar on them as has been suggested, and in the long run it would save me some $$$...but that isn't my plan! I love the fact that I buy from working farms so that if someone buys one of my coffee sack totes or purses, they could actually come to Kona and go visit that coffee farm! And the variety of logos on the bags exemplifies the variety of people that own the farms. There are the lawyers who have moved over and bought land and became farmers. There are people who have grown up on this island and are doing what they know best. The one thing they all have in common is their enthusiasm for Kona coffee and love for this island that we all live on.
a hui hou
Friday, August 21, 2009
Todays events opened to the general public at 10 am. We arrived a little early and waited in line behind a pretty young mother and her little 7 month old baby girl. She shared with us that she had worked for the state for several years but with cutbacks was heading to the mainland to make her new home in Washington state. But she added, "we'll be back someday". She fed money to the Chinese Dragon to ensure her daughter's good luck and we bid aloha to her. Then we entered the main arena. WOW! So many booths.
Janet and I sort of drifted off in our own directions early on and reconnected later. She was looking for unique items for her gallery and I was looking at booth configuration, lighting, and displays. I also wanted to see if anyone else was selling items that would be competition to me. (no one was I am happy to report!)
At 11am, I meandered into the concert hall and had a bite to eat and listened to Makana. He is just an amazing young slack key guitarist. I have heard him live several times and always enjoy his musical talent.
I must admit something to you here that I am a bit ashamed of. I did not expect the Aloha on Oahu that we experienced today. When I did approach fellow artisans and tell them that I was considering a booth for next year, I was blown away by the responses. One gal I met, who makes beautiful sea glass wrapped jewelry, was so full of aloha that she told me she has extra tables and if I needed to borrow, just to let her know! Her name is Tanya Maiava Ochoa. She is still working on her website but her email address is BesosCreations@hawaii.rr.com
I stopped by my friend, Joan Blackshear's booth and was in awe of the beauty of her work. When you see her display of silk table runners and wall hangings, it is breath taking! I HAD to buy one of her runners for myself! And she is SO funny! I love how in love with her husband she is. He cracks her up and it is fun to watch them together. go to www.JoanBlackShear.com to see her work.
I also met two women who just cracked me up. One shared that she just didn't know what she would do if her husband died because she relies on him to set up her booth and cut out her wood products! We laughed! I am going through my collection of business cards and I am thinking that one of the gals was Charlotte Martin Del Campo - Retailer of Various Gift Items. (no web site)
Then I had the opportunity to meet an artist that I have admired for a very long time! She too has an Etsy site, which is where I discovered her. Her name is Holly Kitaura. This woman is amazing. Her art is whimsical and colorful. Much of it cracks me up, which may be why I purchased 3 pieces! And this woman who I admire, but who I just met, offered to let me crash at her house if I do the show next year! Did I mention how much I love Hawaii and the people here? Here is her link: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5183423
I had a highlight of the day that truly gave me "chicken skin" as we say here in Hawaii....or "goosebumps" as they say in Idaho! I was purchasing some spices from Kaiulani, the queen of spices on Oahu, and a woman next to me says, "Where did you get your Sasaki Bag?". Stunned, I replied, "I AM Sasaki Bags!". Little did she know that she just fulfilled one of my dreams! Someone recognized my bag without even seeing the tag! (its on the inside). She said that she had been looking at my website for quite awhile but hadn't made a purchase yet. She gave me her name and if she reads this, ....
when you are ready to purchase a Sasaki Bag, let me know it is you, and I will ship it to you for free because you really made my day!
On the flight home, Janet ended up sitting by a pretty girl named Dominique, who is my daughter's age, 28, who was coming to Hawaii because her grandpa just passed away and she wanted to support her parents at this time. We started chatting because I showed Janet the "feet" on Dominique's tote bag and told her I am looking for that kind of feet for my large totes. Then we realized that Janet and Dominique were dressed almost identically! Blue jeans, dark cowl top, greenish leather purse....it was uncanny! In the end, Janet offered to save Dominique the $25 cab fare to her parents and she drove both me and her home.
Maybe it was just all the aloha we had experienced today that we just had to share. That is what it is all about, right? Can you tell I had a wonderful day? Will I do the Made In Hawaii next year? I am not ready to decide yet. It is a bit overwhelming. But I will definately consider it.
a hui hou
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tomorrow, I am flying off to Oahu for the Made in Hawaii Festival. My friend and fellow artist, Joan Blackshear, is having a booth as she has for several years now and has been very successful. It is a huge event. I am going so I can check it out and see if it is something I could ever attempt. Joan makes gorgeous silk table runners and wall hangings, but it all folds quite flat....my bags wouldn't pack so nicely. I was putting together some numbers and trying to figure out how many jumbo rubbermaid containers it would take, full of Sasaki Bags, in order to do the show justice. And how would I transport all of those containers to the airport and then to the event? But that is why I am going....just to watch and learn.
Also tomorrow is the grand opening of Palm Palm on Kauai. I am so excited for Marjorie! Her other store was so beautiful, I can only imagine what she will do with this one. I shipped off 5 Big Kahuna Bags and 21 Kimono Keys today. She should have them by Saturday.
So all in all, I had a good week and am looking forward to my trip to Oahu. I will be flying over with Janet Lipps, the owner of Pacific Islands Design Gallery in Holualoa. She will be scoping out the festival for fresh artists to feature in her gallery. It sounds like a fun and exhausting day!
a hui hou
Thursday, August 13, 2009
(my daughter took this photo 10 years ago when we took a trip to Maui for her graduation. I was looking pretty reflective, which is how I've been feeling again lately)
It has all been a bit nerve racking! But even with all the stress, I am still doing well on my diet. I have lost 7.4lbs in the past 3 weeks. I do believe that weight watchers is probably the most healthy and supportive way to go. I get great tips from the others at the meetings. I have quite a ways to go...but I am headed in the right direction.
I keep telling myself that you have to spend money to make money. My daughter who is a bank auditor, reinforced that mantra the other day and assured me I am doing what I need to do. It's funny how the roles switch back and forth once your children are grown and become experts in their own fields and can offer you advice!
So even though the spending is stressful to me, I believe I need to follow this path and see where it leads me. Thanks for following my journey.
a hui hou