Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Best and Worst ...Its kinda like a battery!

It is funny how fast the years seem to slip by as one gets older. When you are 4 years old, why a year is a quarter of your life! When you are younger, and something horrible happens, you have no idea just how you are going to EVER get past it...and yet you do.

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, 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 simple....."kinda like a battery". (I love you, Dad!)

a hui hou

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An alternative to resolutions

Several years ago I was working at a luxury hotel in Hawaii on New Year's Eve. I overheard a conversation with two little girls and their grandparents that has continued to touch my life. "Gramma" asked each girl, "What was the best thing that happened to you this year...and what was the worst?" Each person shared the best and the worst with each other. The message was that "you survived even the worst thing that happened...and also had something wonderful happen this year." It gave hope.

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

A peek inside my studio

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.

Next stop...organize the closet in my bathroom....

a hui hou!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wrapping up more than just presents!

I am wrapping up for this year. Menehune man is going wild making me new shelves, slots and cubbies to help me to get more organized before the new year. I am taking a break from the dreaded task because I came across a final tally for this year. As you know, I set a goal last January to sell 1000 bags this year. Well, I reached that goal in November and the final tally for 2009 is *drum roll* ....1,311 bags! I am very pleased.

*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

Amy Butler "Love"

Today I finally received my 13 bolts of Amy Butler fabric! I am SO excited to have some beautiful new fabrics to work with. I primarily use them in the production of the bags that I send to Kauai. Palm Palm likes the designer fabrics and has great success in selling whatever I make! Tonight I was supposed to be working on one thing....but couldn't resist cutting out some linings for Big Kahunas. Tuesday is the last day I can ship interisland before Christmas so must get crackin'.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baby Mikayla

I just wanted to give an update on my friends' tiny little baby girl. She is just over 2 weeks old now and thriving at just about 2lbs. This week they removed the oxygen and the IV. She has been off the respirator for a week. This little girl is a fighter. My heart goes out to their family as I know their lives changed so much over night! Thank you to all who believe in the power of prayer that have included little Mikayla. All I know is that the doctors are amazed. I have seen photos of this little girl who came into the world weighing 1 lb 1 oz., and she is simply a miracle with everything so perfectly formed. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

a hui hou

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Remembering Janelle Morse

It was a year ago tonight that a beautiful young woman, who I knew so briefly, died due to a car wreck. Today I am remembering her and sending my love to her friends and family. Janelle Morse is not forgotten.

Here is a link to the posting I wrote following her beach memorial at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

a hui hou

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What a Week!

I share this photo as a mere warning! It is of my shin on my left leg. It is cancer!

I haven't posted for quite awhile. Life got in the way! A week ago last Tuesday I had a biopsy on an area of my leg that I have been concerned about. I first noticed it in August or September...who writes those things down??? I had it frozen in October when we returned from Molokai but it never I went in for the biopsy. They said I would have results in a week, so imagine my surprise when they cheerfully called the next day to tell me that I have cancer! It is a squamous cell carcinoma to be medically correct...but when you hear that...all you hear is CANCER! Because they have already froze it and burned it...the next step is to have surgery to ensure that they get all the cells. I am flying to Honolulu to have the Moh's procedure preformed in January.

At first I was just going to keep this to myself, but after telling family, I decided to call one of my dear friends who lives in Seattle to tell her. We have been through much together. She once sat with me waiting for the ambulance following my car wreck two years ago which was near her house in Kona at the time. Then she sat at the hospital with me and fed me ice chips for 7 hours and put vaseline on my swollen and bruised lips. She was there with Menehune Man and I and offered much support and comfort. She had been in a bad accident a year before. Flipped her car....rolled it and skidded on the pavement while trying to hold her head off of it! She knew what I was going through!

So with that background info said, I called her but she didn't answer and a day went by...then two days before my phone rang. She was calling from the hospital in Seattle. Only two weeks previous, she had discovered that she was pregnant and on this day, had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section. She now has a tiny, 1 lb 1oz baby girl to add to their family. Yes, that weight is correct! 1 lb oz.!!! It was touch and go for a time and my friend nearly lost her life due to complications of the pregnancy. That does still happen, even in this age!

Somehow, hearing of her brush with death, helped me to put my own ailment into perspective. Funny how that works. I guess a premature baby and pre-eclampsia trump skin cancer any day! I am just thankful that both momma and baby are doing so well. Infact, baby Mikayla has almost doubled her weight in one week! Everyday I wait to hear updates on her and was thrilled with a photo of her yesterday.

So to my customers, I share this as an explanation for why my bag production was down this past 2 weeks. Sometimes, life just happens. I am still looking at about 71 bags on order that I hope to have done before Christmas. Keeping my hands busy also helps to keep my mind occupied while I await surgery.

According to the USPS the last day to ship to the mainland US is December 17 and shipping interisland has a cut off date of December 22. Knowing that, I am planning to close shop from December 23 - January 4th to take inventory, clean house, enjoy MM and regroup for a BUSY new year!

a hui hou

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snow on Mauna Kea

Yesterday I had to drive out to one of the hotels to deliver a tote bag that the sales department was planning to send to a client. It is about a 12 mile drive from home. Somedays, when I am out and about, I realize how much time I spend INDOORS! So yesterday I was really enjoying my drive. On the makai (ocean) side, the water was so blue! I even saw my first whale of the season! Well, sort of.... I saw its SPLASH! So at least I do know they have returned.
Winter is my favorite time of year in Hawaii. Some people think that we don't have seasons but we do. You just have to look for them. We have Jacaranda Season when those beautiful purple trees are blooming that goes until about March, we have Night Blooming Cereus season which starts in June and we have Whale Season which is usually December to April. And there are other seasons as well.
While driving to the hotel, it was so clear that there were few clouds on the mountain so I could see the fresh snow on top. There wasn't as much snow as I have seen in the past. More of a dusting I would guess, but I had to pull over and snap this photo. Hawaii is such a land of contrasts. You can have tropical landscapes AND snow! Perhaps that is one of the reasons I love it here. I enjoy contrasts! Even in my sewing. I enjoy working with burlap coffee bags because they offer a uniqueness...but give me some luscious silk and I am thrilled!
Speaking of sewing...I better get back to it.
a hui hou