Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sasaki Bags Surpasses Goals

As you may know, I set a pretty aggressive goal for myself this year. Last year I sold a little over 1300 bags so I thought, "why not shoot for the moon?" And set my sights on 2010 bags in 2010. Well, with two days left to the year, I am thrilled to announce that I blew that goal out of the water! As of this morning, I have sold 2850 bags! Who knew this would be possible? The next couple of days will consist of doing inventory of my supplies and gathering up my information so that Menehune man can send in our GET taxes to the state of Hawaii. I am also starting to entertain some goals for next year. I have learned to "dream bigger" this year so who knows where the next year will take me!

I am also preparing to share my "best and worst of 2010" with you. You know..."what was the best thing that happened to you this year and what was the worst?". Some years are more difficult to choose just one best and one worst. This year was easy. Care to guess?

a hui hou

Monday, December 20, 2010

Taking Time to Celebrate

Today my mom called with news so good it made me cry. Dad went into the cancer center for his blood work and to start another round of chemo. It has beat him up so bad that he was not looking forward to the infusion today. But when they saw the dr., he told them that dad is DONE with chemo now and he is still in remission.
Saturday will be only six months since his initial diagnosis of esophagael cancer. It feels more like a year or two ago. Their lives have changed so much in such a short time
But today, we are celebrating. None of know how long we have to enjoy our loved ones. Life can play tricks on even the young and healthy. My family was given a gift, the way I see it. You see, if I had gotten a call saying that dad had a heart attack or gotten hit by a bus, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to go out and spend time with him around the campfire, drinking his homemade wine and roasting marshmallows. I can now allow myself to hope that there will be many more of those moments with him.
The staff at the cancer center gave dad a cake today and a certificate of acheivement for finishing his radiation and chemo. He was just beaming. I wish I could be there today to share in the celebration in person, but a long distance party will have to do this time. I am taking some time to celebrate and appreciate the fact that I am almost 50 and still have both my parents. What a gift!
a hui hou

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sasaki Bags Island Hops!

Earlier this week MM and I flew over to Oahu to make some new business contacts and select fabrics for my big corporate order. We visited several wholesale fabric reps and finally found a great fabric that comes in several colors. It's perfect! We were able to order 500 yards it which will complete the order. I also found a new supplier for canvas, right here in Hawaii that has beat all other prices I have found! Yeah! So we ordered 200 yards of that. I swear, my house looks more like a fabric store right now than a home! And more fabric will be arriving on Monday! Once production begins next week, the bolts will become stacks of fabric which will become, linings, and then bags, which can then be boxed up and ready to ship. (you'd think I have done this a time or two!)

We also took some R&R while we were "off island". We stayed in a nice hotel, did some shopping, went out for a fabulous sunset dinner and just enjoyed being together. I think we are both chomping at the bit to begin this order, but there is much to do before that. I'm glad we had a few days to just relax and enjoy life a little. It started off with a bang. As we were headed to the airport to leave Kona, we didn't even get backed out of the driveway before we had a minor disaster. (no one was killed! ) MM had set the suit case behind the car to put in the trunk, but had to go inside for something....and guessed it, forgot about the suitcase and ran over it...dragging it under the tire up the driveway! I had placed one duffle bag suitcase inside another so that we would have a spare suitcase to bring home gifts and fabric. We pretty much had to scrap that plan. The outer suitcase looked like it had already failed an airport survival test. It was pretty sad! The inner suitcase didn't fair so well either. It has a bent telescoping handle, a few rips etc. The funny thing was the next morning when I went to apply my makeup and my makeup brush looked like it was some sort of "ergonomic applicator". Definately "bent out of shape". It was good for a laugh or two and I always love having something I can rib MM about for years to come!

With all the new supplies we purchased, inventory will be interesting this year. I have MM working on a spreadsheet that will help out for this year's taxes and hopefully into next year. It will need some tweeking along the way, I'm sure, but it will be better than what I have been working with!

Can you believe that this year is almost over? What a year it has been! I have many wishes for the coming year, most of which include good health for my friends and family (especially my dad) and time to enjoy the journey we call life.

I have to start thinking of my "word" of the year for 2011 and about my "best and worst" for 2010. Care to join me?

a hui hou

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kauai Coffee and Sasaki Bags

My supplies have started to arrive for my big corporate account that I have taken on. This week over 200 Kauai Coffee bags island hopped on over to my studio on the Big Island. Out of the 810 bags that I will be making, 150 are going to be backpacks made out of Kauai Coffee Company bags because those particular guests have opted to stay on Kauai!

I am still working hard to finish up orders from the stores that sell my bags and the custom orders I received through my website.

Today I got to enjoy a brief little "happy dance" when I finished the last of 54 backpacks in a corporate order for a group that will be in Hawaii soon. It included the backpacks and 150 beach tote bags.
They turned out great. I'm sure they will be proud to offer these as gifts to their clients.

Thursday I completed a different order for 70 beach tote bags for anther incentive group coming to Hawaii.
Right now, I have over 1080 bags on order for next year. Menehune Man has been a dream boat this week. He has been so supportive and encouraging.
Before I took on the "BIG" order, I asked him, "Do you think I'm crazy?" When he quit smirking, (because he is sure that I am crazy) he just said, "I think you would be crazy NOT to take this order. I will help you!". And help he has! Yesterday he cut out over 500 linings for me. I am well aware that "this" is MY dream, and yet at the point that I am at, I sure could not be doing this without him. For the "BIG" order, MM has to cut out 405 hardboard bottoms for me for some amenity tote bags.
Today he was out in the garage making patterns for me out of acrylic so that all the cutting will be easier. So we are a team. I feel like pretty much all I do is sew, take orders, email clients, place orders, sew, market my bags, press, fold and box up the bags, ship bags, sew, and feel guilty for not doing more. (hmmm that does sound like a lot!), while MM takes care of the cooking, the yard, helps cut fabric and burlap, AND holds down a full time job. I guess we have a "modern family". I am just glad we have each other!
a hui hou

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hawaii Made Gifts for Incentive Groups

Sasaki Bags are being chosen as quality, creative gifts for many incentive groups visiting the Hawaiian Islands. Using Kona Coffee bags and now adding Kauai Coffee bags to my list of supplies, I can create unique bags that the clients enjoy taking home and actually using again and again!

Many of my readers may not know what an incentive group is or how it all works so I will attempt to explain. As you know, there are 1000's of companies worldwide that reward their top people who have helped the company have a successful year. Yes, there are still companies out there turning a profit and spending money (thankfully!) All year long, these companies who are often wonderful employers, dangle the carrot in front of their sales teams of, "whoever can sell the most" or "bring in the most clients" or that type of thing, "will win an all expenses paid trip for you and a friend to some beautiful warm and tropical place next winter when everyone else is freezing their buns off". Quite a nice incentive to do well, don't you think? It is even better when Hawaii is the location of choice because that keeps all the money in this country, ensuring the hotel workers, many of whom I know personally, will be able to pay their mortgages and buy groceries and toys for their kids etc.

There is a whole industry created to support these incentives. There are DMCs (destination management companies) who are hired to assist in making travel arrangements, picking clients up at the airport, giving them a lei greeting, arranging tours and activities for everyone and assisting in arranging meals and entertainment.

Incentive group trips are somewhat seasonal with the peak season being January through June. That is because once summer is here, families usually want to plan their own vacations with their kids. Plus, in many locations, the summer months are so short, they want to be home to enjoy it.

Once the winners of the incentive arrive, let's just say in Hawaii, they are most often given gifts or arrival amenities. Sometimes, with very large and successful companies, they may be given gifts everyday! They will return to their room after dinner and "Voila" another gift is awaiting their return. Other companies spend less money on gifts and just give their winners some extra spending cash to spend on whatever they wish.

All of these gifts are chosen months in advance (in a best case scenario). That is where my little business comes in. Someone from either the large company, the DMC, or a hotel will find my website and email me to tell me the size of group they have, when they are arriving and what type of amenity bag they may be looking for. I have even custom designed special bags to the clients specs on occasion.

Then, if I am not already booked during that time frame, they give me a deposit to hold the date so that I don't take on more work than I can handle. That is when I go to work, ordering sufficient supplies and getting my schedule tweeked to accommodate the additional work load. I still have 8 stores to supply with my products during this time so a schedule is SO important.

I love working with companies of all sizes to create gifts they are proud to give. I even love it more when I see hundreds of my bags being carried around town and I know just where they got them and also what company they work for! Menehune Man works for TSA (no he isn't a groper!) and he often comes home and says, "I saw some of our bags leaving the island today!"

Right now I am working on two orders for incentive groups that are coming to Hawaii in February and March and am in the process of committing to another group that will be here in May.

I don't expect to get much rest in the coming months! But I am living my dream and enjoying the journey.

a hui hou

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Sewing

Ho Ho Ho...and Tra-La-La-La-La
That is what I am hearing everytime I make it into town for more supplies! Yesterday I had an opportunity to see some old friends and everyone was asking me, "Are you ready for the Holidays?" Now you may find this odd, but to me, Christmas is already over and it is only December 1st!

You see, I started sewing my Xmas stockings in February. By July, I was starting to stock up for the stores I sell to so I wouldn't run out of bags. September and October were busy months with trips to see my family and custom orders for some of my great customers. November was the coffee festival with all the frenzied sewing that goes along with that. And suddenly here we are in December and I am pretty much through with Christmas orders and working on corporate orders for February and March. By January 1st, I hope to be working on my May order.

The seasons are beginning to sort of blur past me. Once I finish the May order, it will almost be time to start my "holiday sewing" again.

I am making my supply list and checking it twice.
1200 yards of draw cord....check
500 cord stops.....check
900 yards of fabric....check
400 coffee bags.....check
400 yards of canvas....almost
500 grommets.....check
And all that is just for one order! I am still selling 200-300 bags per month to my stores! I am seeing my dreams come true and beginning to allow myself to dream bigger. That starts by ordering more. I figure that if my little business is doing so well, others must be too. That is fantastic news! It's what makes the economy go 'round.

A hui hou