Friday, July 31, 2009

The end of July already!

Where did it go? Its been a month already since our anniversary trip over to Volcano. And as you can see, I haven't even posted much on my blog this month. I've been sewing. Big surprise, right? Kauai has been eating up my "Big Kahuna" bags at Palm Palm. I think I have sent about 16 of them over just this month. These are BIG bags! Marjorie's new store will be opening on August 21 so I will make sure she has a fresh supply for her grand opening.
I also did a redesign on my market tote as an alternative. I made it so it can have a drawstring and be cinched up. The idea actually came from a customer over on Kauai who was talking to Marjorie about the possibilities. I am working on getting my costs down and still use the designer fabrics I love.

I reconnected with a customer of mine in North Carolina who has a store in a 200 year old building. She has started selling my bags again there at Dwelling in Greensborro, NC.

Last night I got my hair cut and my fabulous hairdresser, Amber Savant, said she has an idea for a future trunk show opportunity for me. That is something I have been interested in pursuing so it sounds like fun!

My going pretty good. I lost a little over 2lbs last week. Menehune Man helped me pull my "Total Gym" out from under the bed in the "burlap room" and got it set up for me. My arms are a little sore today, but it feels good.

Today I worked on about 30 tote bags and got the exteriors all done. I like to work assembly line fashion when I am making the same thing over and over again. It takes the thinking out of it.

Thats about it from Kona. Just working hard and staying busy.

a hui hou

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another week

Wow, time is sure slipping away. It will be Christmas rush before I know it. Today I went to town to buy a few beads at Pikake Beads in Kona to hang from my yoga mat bags, and realized this was the day of the monthly block party in Kona. What a nice surprise! A couple of my friends, the Caputos were having a booth to sell Bobbie's artwork and there were lots of other vendors. Bobbie Caputo is a super talented artist who paints from her childhood memories growing up on a coffee farm. She uses bright colors and each painting isn't complete until she personally tells you the story behind it! Very fun! She is thinking of writing a book and illustrating it with her paintings to tell the story of Kona Coffee Farms of old...before the story is lost. It was a nice mix at the block party...but lots of touristy things. A little too much aloha fabric for my taste!

I am considering buying booth space because I think people would notice the quality difference in my bags compared to others. There were other bags there for $25...and if you just want a tote...they were of fine quality. But lets face it...they weren't Sasaki Bags! I do not say that to be rude or mean. It is just that my customers have come to expect details on my bags in the form of piping, key fobs, pockets, designer fabrics or magnetic snaps. My bags do cost more than that....some of them even cost ME more than that to make! I use heavy-duty webbing instead of the limper cotton webbing. I reinforce where needed and add hardware just to make it look nice!

I got a call from a friend of mine tonight. She was the person who about 5 years ago started encouraging me to get a business license and GO FOR IT! What a nice surprise to hear her voice. She was telling me that the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there is a craft fair up in Hawi...which is one of my favorite local yocal towns up north. That would be fun!

So many options...and yet today....I can't seem to get motivated to even turn "Sven" on! (that is what I call my Swedish sewing machine for those of you who may be dropping in for the first time) I have been putting in 12 hour days sewing and maybe I just need a little break tonight. So I went to the farmers market and bought some healthy veggies that I steamed up for dinner. Fresh broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and she threw in a ripe avocado for free. Can't beat that!

I started Weight Watchers this week. I haven't told anyone yet....for fear of failure I guess. But since I hurt my foot, I have put on some weight and just need a little encouragement. I had Menehune Man drag my "total gym" out from under the bed in the "burlap room" and really am trying to work on this. I knew I was out of control when I heard myself telling a girlfriend, "I sure hope nobody dies in the near future....because I have nothing that fits me!". Said as a joke....but I was kind of serious! And then my sister keeps reminding me that one of these days Oprah may just call and how would I explain to her that "I can't be on your show right now...because I am too fat! " Oddly enough, I think that if anyone would understand...Oprah would!

With that thought...I think I will sign off and continue enjoying the rest of the evening with no expectations or goals other than to maybe take a bath!

a hui hou

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I love Sundays! Menehune Man and I got up and went down to Kona Mountain coffee bright and early for a large dose of caffeine and we worked on our crossword puzzles. I had to check on my stock of bags there and saw that this week the market totes have been popular. They also can't keep the teddy bears in stock that I lovingly named "P. Beary" after the premium coffee bean 'peaberry'. So, it helps me to plan out my week.

I also got an email from Marjorie Desouza at Palm Palm on Kauai. The bags that I shipped out two days ago have all sold out already! She said she could have sold 15 more today if she had them in stock. This is the bag that is sold exclusively to her and no place else (which is what exclusively means, Barb!) and it isn't cheap. I am not positive of her final pricing but I know it is around $120.

I drove up to Holualoa today and stopped at the Hula Daddy farm to purchase more coffee bags from Karen and Lee. They have such a beautiful farm with a panoramic ocean view from their visitor center. While I waited for Karen to finish up a tour I helped myself to a little Hula Daddy dark roast. So good that I didn't even need cream and sugar!

After lunch I sewed two shoulder bags for Kauai coffee and then started on more bags for Palm Palm. Before I knew it, the day had started slipping away so I figured I better clean up my space so I can start the work week tomorrow in a tidy environment. Sometimes it helps me to think more clearly when my space is clean. I even cleaned up the "burlap room". Wow! ambitious!

This week I decided to expand my use of the word "Haute" to include not just my "Haute Potato" bags but...why not "Haute Coffee"? I can't remember why it suddenly came to me but it cracked me up so....I think it will stick!

I have a meeting this week with one of the hotels to discuss selling my bags to groups as an amenity. They already have my catalog with photos and bag descriptions. I am also offering a line sheet with items that I can fill the bag with. There is a large group coming in November that has samples and I am hoping they place an order. It would be for 200 bags! I wish it wasn't right during Xmas season...but bagmakers can't be choosers! I will work it out.

Menehune man cut out about 40 omiyages for me today before he left for work. So I am ready to sew! But for now, I think I will go to bed. Morning comes early to the sweat shop!

a hui hou

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Add another Country!

I just woke up to an Etsy order to be shipped to the UK! That makes 9 countries now and 38 states! Okay folks, the offer is still on: mention that you are from a "hold out state" or that you saw this in my blog and I will ship for free until the end of the year! That will be a savings of about 9 bucks! Here are the states I still need:

Maine (Maine order was mailed July '09)
North Dakota
New Hampshire
Rhode Island

Friday, July 10, 2009

You've Got Mail!

Oh how I love it when my mailman rings the bell. It usually means I have to sign for something...which in this case was my express delivery from Kanazawa, Japan. My new Haoris are here! I got 3 black silk and one red silk. One of the black ones has purple flowers on it. The other two are a tone on tone print. Very rich! The red one is exquisite! It has tone on tone fans and flowers. The lining is fun too! Be on the look out for these haoris in their "next life" as a Sasaki Bag!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Princess Aiko

Can I share something? Well, I piddled around all day working on that yoga mat bag I showed you (below) and after several hours of laboring....please let me introduce one of the most beautiful bags I have ever made! This is Aiko and I named her that because that is the name the proud emperor of Japan named his child. I must believe she is destined for greatness!

In the end, the colors of silk just came together....I changed up a few things...did some ripping out and the final product is just really beautiful.

Here is Aiko's bio:
Aiko was born on July 7, making her a Cancer. She is bold and vivacious. Aiko will always stand up, not only for herself, but for others when she believes in the cause. She is a powerful woman but sensitive to the feelings of her loved ones.

The Process...

Want to see something really scary? I just decided to show you what I am doing today. I am working on a new yoga mat bag so I dug into my silk stash and started matching up some fabrics to go with the obi I want to use. It has huge orange camelias on it with turquoise leaves and lime green leaves, metallic gold leaves all on a bronzy colored silk. It is stunning! (and I am not easily stunned! ha!)
I decided to go with a darker blue as the main accent color so that whoever takes this baby home will not be worried about soiling her. Then I started looking for other colors to wrap her in. I chose a nice dark lavender dupioni, a two tone lime/blue dupioni and a two tone irridescent orange/pink dupioni.
This gal is still a work in progress, but she will have a zippered pocket and an adjustable shoulder strap. I haven't yet decided how she will close at the many options!
In the photos you may notice the can of dust remover.....I was thinking I should just be able to spray a can of that all over my house instead of cleaning! ??!
You also may have gotten a glimpse of a new diva sitting on the purple rat tail cord. This is the stage that many of my divas get to for awhile. I am trying to decide on her handles. I believe I am going to try silken cording with gold tone hardware.....but that is why she is still sitting there....nameless and waiting for me.
Okay...back to the work in progress. Photos later!
a hui hou

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lei Chic

The day before we left for Volcano, I was contacted by Lei Chic, an online fashion magazine. We talked about my bags and "my story" about how I got started etc. and she told me that they would probably be getting back in touch with me after her editor looked over the info. Well...we left for Volcano, I put my Etsy shop on vacation mode which means people can't even view my items. When I got home yesterday, I had 175 new emails....many were from customers who had seen the feature that took place while we were "unplugged". It took about 2 hours to answer all the emails but I appreciate the fact that so many bothered to contact me.

This week I get another chance because it seems that Lei Chic loves my Divas and my Yoga Mat Bags too with the recycled kimono and obis. So they are planning a special feature. I am not sure what day it will go out, but am definately open for business!

Today I made this new yoga mat bag from a child's kimono. It is so colorful! It has peacocks on it that the fanned feathers look like brightly colored hearts. I wish I was a better photographer, because this bag is stunning. I added a hidden zippered pocket for that smoothie money for after yoga!

Our 8th Anniversary

Earl and I drove over to Volcano for our anniversary this week. I just love it over there. We own a little piece of land over there that we dream of one day building our own little cottage on. The cottage we stayed in this time was very charming. We enjoyed sitting in the hot tub out in the fern forest while it rained down on us.

I kept the woodstove going most of our stay which kept the chill off. It is at the 3000 ft level so it gets quite chilly in the evenings.

We took a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle and totally "unplugged". No sewing machines, no computers and no phone calls. Just US! It was a perfect get-a-way!