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

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Make Sure Your Bag Says "Sasaki"

Oh what a small island I live on! I am not sure whether to be flattered or a little irritated. So, I will opt for both. I just found out that "someone" was in the fabric store the other day and confessed to buying one of my bags to disassemble because they want to make their bags just like mine! Did this person not think that everyone in the fabric store knows me? Evidently they have been awarded a corporate account and the client wanted the quality people have grown to expect from my bags. What a shame that they won't be getting a real "Sasaki Bag".

I guess in the end, it doesn't really matter, though, because even if you use the same fabric I use and the same weight canvas I use, and even the heavy weight cotton webbing that I use, these other bags will be missing one important "ingredient"! Each of my bags are made with passion and Aloha! By stealing my pattern and copying my composition, you won't grow into the bag maker that you may have the potential to be! Your bags will simply be knock offs.

So please, if you love my bags and appreciate my ethics, make sure that the bag you buy has a Sasaki label sewn onto it.

a hui hou

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kauai Coffee

I have been sewing for Kauai Coffee for a couple of years now, but just recently got permission to use their bags for my own ventures. They have some of the most interesting coffee bags to work with because every year they redesign their bag. They are somewhat of collector's items! Some of the designs translate very well into my bags and purses so I was excited to receive my first shipment of bags today. So of course, I had to make a kauai coffee bag today!

It has been a long day of sewing today but I got a lot done and feel good about what I accomplished. I guess that means it was a "good day"!

a hui hou

Sunday, October 24, 2010

49 years and counting...

My life has been interesting to say the least. Some of you who know me now, may not know that I first married at age 17 (nope, wasn't even pregnant!) and had two children before I could even buy a beer (at age 21)! I am no longer married to my children's father, but he will always remain a part of my history, since we were together for 18 years.

I am now 49 years old and proud to say it! I don't understand people who are ashamed of their age. Gosh, you have earned the right to say the "number"! When I was 29, a dear friend of mine passed away and I vowed to never regret growing older! That was 20 years ago. In this next year, I will be 50. Now, how on earth did that ever happen? Where did the years go?

But honestly, I feel as if I am on the cusp of a new beginning! A life yet undiscovered! Much of my life I have had the opportunity to work in luxury resorts and have met people that you only read about. One of the most surreal moments has to be when I was working a concert/dinner and Archbishop Desmond Tutu was "chair dancing" to Brian Wilson singing "I wish they all could be California girls...". As I ventured across the floor to deliver his apple juice, I was stunned when he "fist bumped" me in appreciation! Did Archbishop Desmond Tutu really just "fist bump" me? That same evening I was priveleged to serve champagne to the first woman president of an African nation, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , of Liberia! There were secret service agents all around inspecting my tray each time I entered the room! I was aware of the importance of her attendance.

I have seen and met may movie stars and movie producers through the years. The one thing it taught me is that we are all the same...we just do different things to make a living! There are nice people and there are jerks in every walk of life! Many years ago, I was a manager at a restaurant in Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. The placemats were our printed menus and when people would come in to take a look at the menu, I used to ask if they would like me to autograph it for them. (it cracked me up) Often, people would ask me, "well, who are you?" I would reply, "it isn't who I AM, it's who I may be someday!" Today, I am a bag maker!

Three years ago, when I began designing Sasaki Bags, I did so with an intention of making it become my livelyhood within 3-4 years. Well, that was 3 years ago and I recently committed myself to having Sasaki Bags be my sole provider of income. It is a scarey and yet exciting step forward for me, but one I take on with bravado! I feel that the time has come and it seems to be the natural "next step" for me in my business venture.

This next year is already filling up with amazing business opportunities. I stand in awe and full of excitement in anticipation of what lies ahead for me. I hope that you stop by and share in my journey that lies ahead. Life is nothing, if not for the journey!

a hui hou



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sasaki Bags looking ahead

Here at Sasaki Bags, I am having such a great time finishing up some big orders, taking new orders for the holidays and looking ahead to even more exciting things to come. I have already booked a few corporate orders for the incentive group season in 2011 and with eight stores now carrying Sasaki Bags, I stay busy enough to keep out of trouble!

At the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, on November 13, at the Old Airport in Kona, I will be releasing my "Aunty Tutu" bag. I have now made a few of them, tweaked some things here and there and am ready to unleash my new gal. It is a large bag. I used mine as a carry-on while traveling to Idaho recently, which allowed me to see what worked and what needed to be tweaked. It fits perfectly underneath the airplane seats when laid flat. The only thing missing on this bag is WHEELS! ha! While rushing through San Francisco airport, that idea did cross my mind!

I am also ordering some leather that I will be working with. My vision is to add leather bottoms and feet to some of my bags. (Mom, I have a purple lambskin hide that I am eyeing! Hmmm, who would like that? Any ideas?) Having never sewn on leather, it may take me awhile to get proficient at it so that it is "boutique-worthy. Max is sitting here just waiting to be put to work!

And what about next year? Well, I plan to keep on working my buns off, and refine some of the design ideas I have been playing with. It also may be time to look for some more outside help, (keeping in mind my word of the year this year: Balance) even if it is just with cutting out bags and linings. This bag maker just can't do it all and keep up with the demand! And I'm sure that Menehune Man would appreciate me not cracking the whip on his days off from his other job!

So, there you have it! Right now, I am just taking a deep breath and hoping to survive the holidays. I believe I surpassed my 2010 goal this week, but haven't done an actual tally. I will let you know.

a hui hou

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chicago Screws

While I was in Idaho I stopped into a Farm and Garden store and found some Tandy leather supplies. I bought some Chicago Screws in different sizes and designs to try out. I know I can order them elsewhere in bulk but always wanted to give them a try without purchasing 500 of them!
Today I made one of my Big Kahuna bags and used the Chicago Screws to enhance the strap. They add both strength and style (IMHO). Okay, they are a little more work...but sometimes to make a better product, it is worth it! Here is a photo of the bag I made today with the new addition. What do you think?
For those of you who may not be familiar with Chicago Screws, they look pretty much like a rivet but instead of schmushing (go ahead, look it up!) the two pieces together, you poke a hole, in this case, in the webbing, slide the shank of one end into the webbing and then screw the other side into that shank. It is a neat look and adds more hardware, which appeals to many of my customers. This bag was a custom order that included the 1 1/2" O-rings attached to the straps.
a hui hou

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sasaki Bags on your Christmas List?

Okay, it's official. Christmas is 3 months from today! How many of you are procrastinators? I tend to fall into that category (I say shamefully, while hanging my head)

Who among you loves to get those lists out of the way early? Well, thankfully, I seem to have lots of "non-procrastinating" shoppers who had Sasaki Bags on their Xmas list this year. I have been seeing a steady rise in customers finding me online. Many of them have purchased my bags for themselves while on vacation and are contacting me to get some of those names checked off their lists.

Tonight I was preparing some invoices and decided it was a good time to do an official tally of bags sold for the year. As you know my goal for 2010 was to sell 2010 bags. I only have 344 to go! Since opening the Waikiki stores this summer, I've been selling about 300 bags per month so I am pretty confident that I will reach my goal.

What else am I up to? Always something! I have a new twist I am putting on my market totes. The hardboard bottom will still be covered in a coordinating fabric, but now on my boutique bags, I will make it reversible to a different accent fabric to switch up the look.

I am planning to unveil my new "Aunty Tutu" carry-on bag at the Kona Coffee Festival in November. I used it on my trip out to Idaho, have done a little tweeking to it, and have it almost ready for public consumption! I loved that it fit perfectly under the airplane seat in front of my cramped, puffy feet. (I really need to drink more water on those flights!) I will also tell you that the design includes a zipper on top and an adjustable, removable shoulder strap. I haven't posted any photos of it yet so I'm trying to keep it a mystery of sorts.

I am just trying to keep it fresh and interesting for all you ladies out there (and for the few men who buy my bags as well!)

Remember that I always love hearing from you and I do listen to your suggestions. Drop me a line anytime at and I will get right back to you.

** kitten update:
While I was in Idaho, Menehune Man tamed the kitten! Now whenever we open the door he RUNS to the door and tries to get in. He loves to be petted and even lets me hold him! That is huge progress since before I left he wouldn't even tolerate being touched. He is simply adorable!

a hui hou

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Love trumps passion!

Life can change so quickly. A couple of weeks ago my dad's health suddenly became critical and he was admitted to the hospital. Mom and I traded off every other night staying with him so that one of us would be rested. After lots of meds, IVs and tender loving care he came home after 8 days, to be doted on by my mom, my sister and me.

From the beginning of his journey with cancer we decided that when possible, his doctors take the weekends off so we would too. It is a nice break to not have appointments, treatments, and procedures. Just lay low, watch some movies and nap. It's funny how important time with family has become, once again.

For the most part my customers have been very supportive. They know that when I return to Hawaii, I will do my best to finish all the bags I have on order. I apologize for any inconveniences. My parents need me right now and my love for them trumps my passion of making bags.

Today, however, I did take a little excursion with my mom and I found a store selling burlap coffee bags from companies that I didn't have. Some are from Guatemala and Brazil. My love for Kona Coffee and the culture from my hometown is still a priority but I think the green frog coffee bag from the Rain Forest Alliance will be fun to work with! Debbi from Farm and Home in Coeur d'Alene was so kind to dig through her pallets to find me some interesting bags. Hopefully, she will find some more fun coffee bags for me before I head back to Hawaii.

Fortunately, my Menehune Man has been continuing to cut burlap and make linings for me while I am gone. Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am?

a hui hou

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sasaki Bags has a new mascot

Who could resist a face like that? This little guy showed up at my 14 year old cat's bowl a month ago and has decided to call us his family. Menehune Man gets a kick out of him, for a guy who doesn't like "kids or cats"! In fact, MM even named him! It's official! Meet "Shiro", which means "white" in Japanese. The kitten looks to be part siamese but his tips are sort of orange with some stripes on his tail. He has the bluest of blue eyes and has stolen my heart. But he is still very wild. I don't think he had any human contact before pilfering Shima's food. I am determined to tame him though. So whenever he eats, I sit very close to him so that he can get used to me being there and trust me. Last night he did take some tuna from my fingers but usually he is just so skiddish that if you flinch he goes running! Patience....not my most developed of virtues!
Yesterday I was outside cutting fabric and he stayed close by. He still has that cute kitten "mew". My poor old cat has been surprisingly tolerant of this new kid in town. In the beginning he could have killed him as I have seen him take on rats that size! Shiro was trying to nurse on the skin that hangs on Shima...and that didn't go over very well! Shiro goes tearing through the yard and running up trees with all the energy of a kitten, and Shima just looks at him as if he were crazed!
Shima is still king of the house though. The new wild baby needs to come a long way before he will be welcome to wander my halls. It is kind of fun having a "kid" around again though.
a hui hou

Monday, August 23, 2010

Haute Potato Purses and more!

One potato, two potato, three potato four! Who remembers that game from your childhood? Maybe it was just us Idaho girls that played it? I don't even really remember what the game consisted of, but the phrase stuck with me!

Yesterday I added a "Haute Potato" bag to my inventory. I got a wild idea and followed through on it to add piping along the fabric accent on the bottom. I really am pleased with the finished look!

My Kona Mountain Coffee stores in Waikiki are living up to my expectations. I have already shipped out 140 bags to them this month and they have 140 more on order. It is funny to me how those numbers have come to sound so run of the mill to me! I remember the first wholesale order that I ever got for 100 bags and I just couldn't even imagine how long that may take me to complete. I do things assembly line now and buy in bulk. Last week I purchased over 300 yards of lining fabric!
Business is looking good for next year. I am working with some incentive groups for possible orders in 2011. It looks like January, February and March may be very busy! I don't see any time to rest up after the holidays!
Over all, life is good. I am meeting new people, experiencing new things and staying very busy. Whatever happened to those days I used to just lay on the beach??? They are but a vague and distant memory.
My boss (that would be ME!) just cracked the whip and insisted that I start my day, so I better sign off!
a hui hou

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Catching up

Well, another day is coming to a close. I've turned the sewing machine off and unplugged the iron. (double checking....yep! its unplugged!) Sitting back and feeling pretty good about all that I accomplished today. *sigh*...Excuse me while I pat myself on the back!

Business has just been incredible! I was chatting with my fabric rep over on Oahu this week and she was lamenting how so many of her customers are still really feeling the crunch of the economy. I feel blessed because here at Sasaki Bags, things are exploding. I get on the average, 2-3 inquiries a week from stores that want to carry my bags. I have had to create a file with contact information so that in the event any of my current accounts fold, I have backups. But that file is getting pretty thick!

Recently, I have been enjoying having my customers find me via facebook. A few of the gals have even given me a call and chatted at length. I love it when they realize that there is a REAL person behind the name! I love connecting with people. Just this week, women from Idaho, Georgia and California have picked up the phone and called me! Thank you!

The new Kona Mountain Coffee store opened in Waikiki yesterday. It is a large store about the size of my house! Not huge...but large enough! I am truly appreciative that I am included as part of their ohana (family). I have been providing bags to their store for 3 years now (almost) and have been enjoying the fruits of their expansion to the outer islands. They have also been so supportive of me during this time that I need to be with my family more. It just doesn't get better than that!

So that is the news from "the rock". Just working hard to make my dreams come true and enjoying the journey!

a hui hou

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2010 Goals

As my loyal readers may remember, I have a goal set before me by the ever competitive MOI! Yes, I do compete with myself! I chose "2010 bags sold in 2010" for this year's goal. I just finished crunching my numbers for the first 7 months and I am still on track to reach this aggressive goal! So far I have sold 1062 bags this year. That is just 300 short of what I sold last year! With my new store opening in Waikiki next week, and the holidays ahead of me, I am feeling cautitiously optimistic that I will be doing a happy dance before the year is out! Care to join me?

a hui hou

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Idaho Potato Commission

It is that time of year once more to renew my licensing with the State of Idaho. It seems that many people arent aware that in order to use an Idaho Potato sack, you actually have to be licensed through the Idaho Potato Commissioner. Thankfully, they are a joy to deal with. Kathy Ware has been most helpful in assisting me. At this time, I am the only person licensed to use the bags in the production of purses. So some of the wording of the contracts had to be customized to fit the purpose that I use the bags for.

I know, some of you think that I only use coffee bags but I also get a kick out of making my "Haute Potato" bags. This year I added two new designs that were approved by the commissioners office and remain on file. They include my Holualoa design with the bamboo handles and the Kaloko design with the zip top and adjustable shoulder strap.
Just a few more things to keep me busy!
And speaking of busy...
The newest Kona Mountain Coffee store opens in Waikiki in 13 days! So I am sewing feverishly to build up the stock to open the new store with. Oh My but the holidays are going to be amusing this year!
a hui hou

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mahalo to ReallyHawaiian

A big Mahalo to Ginger over at who featured Sasaki Bags in an ad in Ke Ola Magazine. It looks great and has already brought me some new customers! Check out her website for other wonderful items that are made right here in Hawaii.

a hui hou

Back on the Rock!

Well, after a busy and full week with my family, I am back in Hawaii and have the treadle to the metal! My latest diva is in the Holualoa design (bucket bag). She is 100% silk. Her exterior was once an obi and her lining was a haori (short kimono jacket type of garment). Kiku was hard to photograph because 3/4 of her exterior is gold metallic threads. Luscious!

I also got an order from the featured ad in Ke Ola Magazine for a Buddha's Cup bag. In addition, this week I found time to finish another bag from my order list. Thank you again to my wonderful customers for your patience and understanding while I spend more time with my parents.

Postings can be expected to be brief as I just have SO much to do these days, but I wanted to atleast drop by and let you all know I am alive and well!

With regards to my dad, he begins treatment to fight the cancer on Monday. He is such a strong and inspirational man! I am really proud that he is my dad! Right now he is doing very well. Thank you for your good thoughts and prayers. He is in good hands with my mom. The doctors have put her in charge of his nutrition. I pity the person who tries to get between her and dad right now. She vows to be glued to his side through all of this. As she pretty much has been for the past 53 years! I truly am blessed.

a hui hou

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Day the World Stood Still...and then started spinning

This blog, as you know, is about more than just my bags. It is about my thoughts and my journey as I realize my dreams. It is about my successes and even my failures. It is about me and my family.

My family has been fortunate in many ways. For the most part, we've been healthy and when most of my grandparents have died, it has been after a full life while into their 80's. I've even had relatives live nearly 100 years! Friday, I felt that my luck ran out. My dad went into an outpatient clinic for a procedure to find out why he has been having difficulty swallowing. With the time difference, with the time it took me to wake up and check my email, my dad had been diagnosed with a 4cm squamous cell esophageal carcinoma. I know my mom well enough to read between the lines of her cryptic email. "Hi honey, the procedure didn't take me when you can so I can try to explain what the doctor found". You see, I know that my mom doesn't believe in delivering bad news via email or voice mail. So when she said to call, I already knew that it wasn't good.

I am thankful that they live in an area that has excellant doctors. I am grateful that they have loyal friends. But I feel so very far away right now.

There have been times in my life when I put my job ahead of everything else. I needed the money so badly that I feared losing my job if I put family first. I won't do that again. I am older and wiser.

My mom told me that she felt like the world as she knew it changed in the instant she heard that her husband of 53 years, has cancer. I understand to some extent. I must remind myself to breathe deeply, as I keep finding myself taking in short rapid breathes of air. This is my dad!

I know enough about his type of cancer to know that the next few months are going to be the hardest days of his life. My dad has never 'done' hospitals. He doesn't even like the smell of hospitals.

So today, my bags are packed and I am headed out to be with my mom and dad. I have wrapped up most of my larger pending orders here and notified other customers that their order will take longer than I initially expected. EVERYONE has been so supportive.

My "Menehune Man" is helping me so much. I even left instructions for him on how to ship one of my large orders. He will be popping a couple hundred packages of Kleenex into silk tissue totes for me, then boxing them all up and shipping them out! Have I ever told you what a special man I am married to?

I still have much to do this morning before flying out so I had better get to it. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.

a hui hou

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Design

I was visiting with the management of my primary wholesale account a couple weeks ago and we decided that with so many people getting into the burlap coffee tote bag biz, that it would be prudent of me to come up with a fresh design to keep my bags recognizable. With the increase in business and the addition of two new stores, I needed to keep the design simple, yet also wanted to add strength and durability to the design.
I am so very pleased with the result of measuring and remeasuring. The final product just has a much more designer look to it with a splash of color. I have added fabric to the bottom and lower edge of my Omiyage and Deluxe Omiyage tote bags to match their linings. Yes, it is more work, but I feel confident that the extra workmanship will pay off. For some of them I have even added nickel hardware to the straps but will keep it simple by only adding that on request.

I look forward to hearing your feedback. Let me know your thoughts.

a hui hou

Welcome Kendra!

Kendra is my newest Diva bag. She is made from black dupioni silk and lined with a leopard print cotton. Her straps are black faux leather. Black feathers accent her front side and she is crowned with a black feather boa. There are two decorative buttons on her front and a pocket on her backside. The interior has ...a magnetic snap closure and two more pockets. Kendra is a sassy girl with a wild side. She likes to party but will look just as good with a pair of tight jeans as she does with your little black dress.

She was born on June 23, making her a Cancer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Holualoa Farmfest 2010

You all know how much I adore the sleepy little town of Holualoa. Well tomorrow it is going to come alive with the 2nd annual Farmfest and Ukulele Jam. There will be 3 stages stategically placed on the mainstreet of town so that you will probably be able to hear music playing from any of the stores and galleries. Around 25 vendors will be selling farm grown fruits and veggies.

I dropped off a supply of Sasaki Bags to Janet at Pacific Islands Gallery today so she should be fully stocked. I did see my Koloa bag, Holualoa bag, Kaloko "bag on a string", and market totes upon quick glance. She also has some affordable jewelry and artwork for everyone.

If you are looking for a fun way to spend your Saturday, take the scenic drive just 5 miles from Kailua Kona and enjoy the day.

a hui hou

Saturday, June 5, 2010

If your life was a book...

Have you ever thought about that? What if your life was a book?

Today I got up early and took a 2 mile walk down at the beach. It had just rained and the roadway was still wet and scented with the sweet wet aroma. I never know where my thoughts will lead me when I am all alone with them. Often times they bounce back to a bag design that has been tumbling about in my head and I try to work out zipper challenges or pocket placement to pass the time. But today I was thinking about my life.

If my life was a book, what section of the bookstore would you find it in? Drama? Adventure? Romance? Self Help? Humor? And would it be interesting enough to read? Would you recommend it to friends?

This thought first came to me many years ago. Perhaps it was when I was struggling through the fallout of a divorce. I tried to imagine that my hardships were but a single chapter in my "life story". They weren't the whole story!

What do you look for in a good read? I like a little mystery, with a hint of romance and adventure and it is best if it also makes me laugh out loud a couple of times. But I like it to keep moving. I like characters with colorful personalities that are sprinkled throughout.

I hope this photo makes you laugh outloud! It was my 46th bday and the prop is a candy cigarette and the lips are wax! No mom, I haven't started smoking! And no lip injections for me!

It isn't always the case, but I would like to live my life so that if it ever were to become a book, it would be one you just couldn't put down. What happens next??? How did she overcome that??? What crazy friends she is blessed with!!! I want it to be a "feel good" book, not a "look at all the mistakes I made" book!

All I really want before the last page of "my story" is one more triumph than there were tragedies! And maybe a few more laugh-out-loud moments! I hope to have many more chapters to work it all out before you see:

"... happily ever after. The End"

a hui hou

Monday, May 31, 2010

And the Winner of the May Give Away is:

Today is my birthday! First thing I did was become a brunette today. The next thing I wanted to do was to give a gift to one of my "fans". Thank you to all of you who left me messages this month on my blog, facebook and twitter. Please continue to do so because it really keeps me in touch with what women are loving and want to see when it comes to the next Sasaki Bag!

So without further adieu, *drum roll please*, the winner of the May give away is:


Marilinda, I will be in touch with you to see where you would like your bag delivered to.

But for now....its my birthday! and I am off to see what kind of trouble I can create for one day! Sorry girls, no sewing today!

a hui hou

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is the big day you have all been waiting for! Who will win my May Give-away? At some time tomorrow, I will announce the winner so check back! I have all the names printed out onto strips of paper and nestled lovingly inside a Sasaki Bag. Don't be hanging around here all night now...go on...go to bed! Check back tomorrow!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another day in Hawaii

This morning I had the joy of driving up to Holualoa to make a delivery of bags. Would someone please remind me to take my camera next time? Some of the things I saw were reminders of just how unique this beautiful place is that I call home. So here is my attempt at a verbal scrapbook:

Holualoa is a sleepy little town smack dab in the heart of coffee country. As I drove up the narrow winding road I avoided some wild turkeys and got behind a truck with a guy sitting in the back of the bed. As I got closer, I saw that there was a huge dead wild pig lying next to him. The hunting dogs were looking mighty proud, too!

Then up a little further there was a sign that read, "Yard Sale"....but there was no yard there! It was simply the side shoulder of the road and some people decided it was a grand spot to have their "yard sale". It cracked me up! there was the armoire, recliner, just didn't happen to be in their yard! :)

Around the next curve in the road I saw a mango tree so burdened with beautiful mangoes hanging from it like beads of water about to drop. A reminder that mango season is upon us! Who says we don't have seasons??? We have whale season, mango season, avocado season, Jacaranda season, Night Blooming Cereus season, Royal Poinciana season.....How lucky are we to have SO MANY seasons!

Across the road I observed a young woman prepping the side of the road to set up her coffee stand. I see her there often, usually with her small child, but today she was alone and sweeping the roadway with a primitive looking broom like I saw in Thailand.

A bit further, I see a little girl of about 4 years old, proudly mounted on a strawberry roan. I love that kind of horse! She was with an adult and it looked like they were about to make some memories of their own. She was so cute with her little legs barely able to hug into the horse. She was wearing a pink bicycle helmet. Safety first!

Once I arrived at the Pacific Islands Gallery, I had the honor to meet a couple who had been admiring my work and came back to see my latest bags. They were from Indiana and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their vacation.

It was a beautiful day and what a treat to be able to invigorate all of my senses! But next time...I need to bring my camera!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo!

Okay, here we are into the first week of May already and I have a funny story to tell you that...well, maybe I told it before but I'm telling it anyways! Infact, it has sort of become a little tradition of mine to share this silly story around this time of year.

Let me preface this story with a reminder that I am a caucasian girl who grew up in North Idaho where we didn't have the advantage of meeting too many people from other cultures. Pretty much everyone I knew was white, so although I was raised to embrace all nationalities, I was not culturally savvy!

With all that being said, when I was about 28 years old, my little brother got married down in the Los Angeles area. I flew down by myself because my family couldn't afford to have everyone attend. So I met up with my mom and dad and spent a few days in "Sunny California". This was my first trip to California as an adult and I was awestruck by all the flowering trees and swimming pools visible as we were flying into the airport. I even photographed a palm tree as I was leaving the airport because although I'd been to Disneyland as a small child, I didn't remember ever having seen a palm tree. (Imagine that now that I live in Hawaii!)

We all had a great time, the wedding was beautiful...yada yada yada.
Then on the flight home, I got on a small plane in Seattle that would take me back to Spokane's airport. It was a tiny plane...quite an experience in itself! After we got settled, the Captain announced "in honor of Cinco De Mayo, we will be passing out complimentary Dos Equis beer to anyone who would like one!" Well, this white girl had never heard of Cinco De Mayo before! My mind conjured up an image of some famous Mexican hero or perhaps a Presidente! Senor De Mayo! **I extend my hand for dear Cinco to gently kiss it as I bow in his honor...all in my mind**So as I was taking my complimentary beer in hand, I raised it and said "Here's to you Cinco!" Infact I may have even seen the bottom of two such brewskis before the short flight was over and probably toasted him again.

I don't recall who actually later told me about Cinco De Mayo....that it wasn't even a person at all! But I do remember the embarrassment I felt! And for some reason that embarrassment has brought me a little bit of joy, every year since then! I find myself quietly giggling at my own expense! Always this time of year, I begin to joke about "Cinco De Mayo must be coming up soon....but I can never remember what day! "

I have some fond memories as well. My dear friend Erica, who was born in Mexico, used to live a few miles from me here in Hawaii and She and her husband were known to throw some pretty great BBQs "around the 5th of May". Lance could whip up some mean margaritas with a little li hing mui on the rim! So on this 5th day of May....I am missing my friend, who moved to Seattle...where my whole Cinco experience began....20 some years ago.

***Just for the record....the day that I flew was NOT on May 5th. My brothers wedding was towards the end of even for the culturally challenged, there has to be an excuse in there somewhere!

a hi hou

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sasaki Bags May Give-away

Tomorrow is May 1st. That may mean many things to many people. It is May Day. As a kid I recall something about may baskets and flowers. In Hawaii, May Day is Lei Day. Everyone wears a lei and there are extraordinary leis entered into contests. The school children hold Lei Day celebrations with a Royal Court, hula dancing and all sorts of festivities.
But for me, May 1st is the beginning of my birthday month! My bday is the last day of May. I thoroughly enjoy having birthdays! It means I am still alive! For me, my birthday is like New Years Day for other people. I love to take the day and reflect on the past year and think about ways I can improve as a person in the coming year. One year, my sister bought me 31 presents and I got to open one every day of the month. It was so much fun!

So this year, I want to make some other lucky girls' day by giving away a Sasaki Bag on my birthday. I have not made the bag that will be given away. I am not sure which one it will be yet. I am hoping you all inspire me to create something that all the girls will envy. To qualify here is what you can do:

1. Each time you comment on my Sasaki Bags Facebook or Twitter pages I will write your name on a slip of paper and put it in a bag.

2. If you comment on my blog, you will also be entered into the drawing.

3. If you go to my Discussions page on Sasaki Bags Facebook and leave a comment or start a new discussion, you will be entered again and again!
Then at the end of the month...did I mention that is my BIRTHDAY?, I will draw a slip of paper out of the bag and announce the lucky girl!

I am doing it in this fashion so that a girl who REALLY wants a Sasaki Bag can increase her chances of getting one by leaving comments. In the past, I randomly chose a name from my list of fans. What I really hope to accomplish is to get to know my customers and friends a little better. Tell me what you like, what you don't like. Give me your ideas! Lets just have fun connecting this month!

a hui hou


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mommy and Mini-Me

Sometimes I just have to take a day and sew something new. I have so many ideas floating around in my head but so little time to try them all out! Today I wanted to make a special bag with Mother's Day in mind. For a long time I have been thinking of making a bag with a matching bag for a young daughter. The first bag I finished within 2 hours. The matching "mini-me" bag took me about 5 hours!

I only had to throw one away. But had to rip this one apart twice. It is a tricky thing to get the proportions similar to the Mommy bag and yet making it small enough for a little girl....a daughter young enough to still think it is neat to look and dress like her mommy! I also had to use similar but smaller bamboo handles which my own "mommy" was kind enough to scout around and find for me. Often, living on an island, I can't find things at affordable prices so I send my mom on a scavenger hunt on the mainland to see what she can find for me! But in the end, when I finished them both....I have to say that I am so pleased with the outcome. At this moment, I can't remember anything that I have ever made that was SO cute!

I would like to start making these "mother/daughter sets" if there are enough women who would like them. But I need to make a few, first, to get my time down that it takes to make them. This set has to be given as a gift. If I charged by the hour today, you would think that the handles were gold plated!

a hui hou

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kona Cloud Coffee Estates

I am having so much fun working with the bags from the Kona Cloud Coffee Estates! I have to play around with the bag to see what design best carries the logo etc. So since Thursday, whats that? Four days ago? I have made two Kona style bags, two market totes, two Holualoa style "bucket bags", and 4 deluxe omiyage tote bags. I have several orders going out to stores and galleries in Hawaii and will be using these latest creations to help fill those orders. Friday I was up at Pacific Islands Gallery in Holualoa to drop off her order and sold two bags before I even left the store! Infact, they hadn't even been tagged yet! One of them was a Kona Cloud coffee bag and the other was from the Kona Pacific Farmers Co-op.

I am wondering which lining will do best in Arkansas in the tote bags. I sent Jim Ameika 3 samples. One had a bright, bold, fun aloha print, another had a earthy greens and browns aloha print with tropical leaves, and the third was a cotton print of coffee beans. I know that the wide variety of customers I have in Hawaii have quite varied tastes. They will buy a bag even if it has dog bones printed inside!

If anyone out there from Arkansas reads this post, please tell me your preferences. At this point I think that about 12 of the bags I am sending out will have the coffee beans and the other bags will be a variety of aloha prints. I will try to compliment the coffee bag, as always.

Earl is off work tonight so I am off to spend some time with him and shut the sewing studio down for the night.

a hui hou!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Quarter

Today we turned the page on another month. So it was time for me to see how I am doing on my goals. As far as balance goes....well, I am trying. I have been taking time away from the sewing room and doing "other" things ....a little bit. I still need to work on balance when I am at home. A little yard work would be good for the soul...and the waistline!

And how am I doing on my numbers? You know my goal for bags made for the year is 2010 bags in 2010! To accomplish that I have to make 167 bags per month. In March I exceeded that. 192 Sasaki Bags were made last month! But for January and February I was low. I am about 100 bags behind as I go into the second quarter. So I just need to readjust my "sails" and tack into the head wind! I do think it was a rather ambitious goal...but I still think it is possible. (Where are my cheerleaders??? "na-na-na-no-body messes with my sewing machine!")

Tomorrow I am shipping off some sample bags to Arkansas. I usually enter into new business relationships with a bit of trepidation these days. I have been burned a couple of times and have grown cautious. But for some reason, I am very excited about this prospect of selling to this client. Once I am sure that they want my bags, (and I can't imagine why they wouldn't!) I will share more details...just in case you are ever in Jonesboro, Arkansas and needing a Sasaki Bag! I will be shipping them 25 bags this month and am working on 35 bags for a different corporate order that is due in June. I also have the new store opening in Waikiki this summer so I have about 50 bags already made and sitting in my living room awaiting their grand opening. Sorry menehune man! Right now I have bags in all four corners of my living room! They are separated by location so I don't send the wrong bags to the wrong location! Yikes...even just hearing myself say that puts fear in my bones! *shudder*

It feels so good to be able to plan ahead and not feel so rushed and panicky! Lots of irons in the fire but it is a controlled burn!

Oh, and let me just share my opinion on the economy.....It's picking up! I started my little biz smack dab in the middle of the downturn. Yet I have seen continual growth. But recently, atleast three of my accounts are calling me weekly to place additional orders. That means people are buying more, and if they are buying my bags...they are most likely spending money on other things as well. Yeah!

Tonight I had so much to sew. By about 8pm I was pooped so I had to do little things to entertain myself to keep the sewing interesting. So, I made a watermelon bag...those always crack me up! And then I decided to play on the "Beverly Hills 90210" and create a "Honaunau, Hawaii 96726" bag. It made me smile. Most people probably will wonder..."why are those numbers on the bag?"...well, the coffee bag I used was from the Gold Mountain farm in I just decided to have some fun with it!

a hui hou!

Monday, March 29, 2010

My little business is growing!

I have so many wonderful opportunities that I have been both enjoying and looking forward to. Tonight I spoke to a businessman in Arkansas of all places! I will give more details as I see appropriate, however, I WILL tell you that I am expecting Sasaki Bags to be available in Jonesboro, Arkansas within the next couple of months. It is one hour from Memphis and I think he said about 3 hours from Branson, Missouri. I have never been anywhere near there but maybe one day I will have to check it out!

So, sorry not too many details, for now...but I just had to share!

a hui hou!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday on the Big Island

How are you spending your Saturday? Me? Funny you should ask! A couple months ago a girlfriend (thats her in the photo) told me about a cooking class that was coming up. It was all about Spices and Thai cooking. She invited me to come along. So I just paid in advance and decided nothing would come in the way. I am SO glad I went. It was held up in Waimea at the Anna Ranch, which was a very nice facility. Chef Nicolai Winkler was our chef du jour. He was very friendly and personable. He taught us how to make 3 different curries. Red, Green and Yellow. He also taught us a lot about the herbs and spices that can go into making a curry.

For instance in his yellow curry, today he included tumeric, ginger, golongal, cumin, hot pepper vinegar (more about the vinegar later) lime juice, sea salt, garlic and 1 thai chili. He taught us that the easiest way to begin muddling the mixture is to start with salt in the mortar bowl as it keeps the garlic from slipping around as you muddle it. Finish "mushing" (a technical culinary term) the dry ingredients before adding the liquids to maintain a paste texture.

Today's red curry included 1 thai red chili, red chili flakes, christmas berry or red pepper corns, sweet paprika, ginger, garlic, lime juice and rice vinegar.

The green curry we made today included basil, lemon grass, lime zest, kafir lime leaf, cilantro, green chili pepper, nutmeg, and chili pepper vinegar.

Now to make something with any of these curries, you can add coconut milk or some kind of stock such as vegetable stock, chicken stock or fish stock. Then thicken it by using the old stand-by of corn starch in a little cold water. You can serve it over rice and add a salad for a complete dinner!

He also said you can saute up a little aromatics including lemongrass, ginger and garlic, then add one of the curries above before stirring in a little coconut milk. Yummy!

One of my favorite things to get in a Thai restuarant (but something I never did see in Thailand!) is summer rolls. They are such a healthy little appetizer filled with fresh herbs and vegies and wrapped in rice paper. We all had the opportunity today to try our hand at rolling a summer roll. I still need to practice my technique, but wouldn't get fat eating my mistakes since they are so low calorie!

Of course a summer roll needs a dipping sauce. I usually have a little sweet chili sauce with peanuts on top, but today Chef Nicolai made four sauces. For the green sauce he started with sugar in the mortar to which he added mint, cilantro, chili pepper, and a substantial amount of fish sauce (aka patisse). That was very crisp and fresh tasting!

Sauce numba 2 was a citrus soy sauce. It was very simple with sugar, lime juice, chili pepper vinegar and soy sauce (aka shoyu).

The 3rd sauce was a homemade sweet chili sauce made from the red curry past to which he added sugar and more chilis. That was also delish!

Sauce numba 4 was a bottle thai sauce to which he added coconut milk.

To wrap the day up he finished with a quick to prepare green papaya salad. The prep included using a mandolin (not the musical instrument...the kitchen appliance!) Then he juilienned the papapya. To the mortar he added sugar, red curry paste, red onion, and water. He tossed the papaya with small yellow grape tomatoes and then added the dressing.

Everything was spicy...but nothing was so hot that it burned. It was just very tasty!

I do wish his class would have included lunch since it was from 11-2pm (lunch time) and it did cost $55. I think we were all expecting to be able to eat more than just the one bite of summer roll and one mouthful of papaya salad. For my critique, I would recommend that he show us how to do something and then let the "students" do the muddling and prep while he continued on. He could have prepared in advance enough papaya salad and summer rolls so that we could have made a little plate and sat enjoying those while he did a summary.

I wish menehune man would have been able to attend with me just because I think he would have enjoyed it too. I am actually in the mood to try out some of these recipes....and I am not one that can usually be found in the kitchen!

Chef Nicolai had bottles of his special rice wine vinegar that he had infused with chili peppers available for sale. I purchased the large cruet because it appeared to have a secure topper whereas the smaller bottle had an open hole in the top. When I was about 3 miles from home I started smelling something pungent. The cruet had tipped over and spilled out about a cup of vinegar all over my car! Oh my!

One more suggestion, Chef, please place secure tops on bottles you are intending to sell!

So, anyways...that was my day! It was fun and relaxing (except for shampooing my car) and a nicely timed break. As our day was wrapping up at the cooking classes, a herd of white cattle came meandering down the hill behind the building we were using. So you can get a glimpse of Waimea...paniolo (cowboy) country

NOW...back to the sweat shop!

a hui hou!