Saturday, February 27, 2010

Car Wreck, Tsunami, oh my!

What a week I've had! I have been helping out the hotel all week serving breakfast for 160 folks from New York. Some are famous....many are not. For the past 7 days I have been getting up at 2am to get a shower, brew some coffee and be to work on time.

On Wednesday, I got 4 miles down the road and was stopped by the police at the airport intersection. There had been a horrific accident the night before and it was still being cleaned up and investigated. It ended up taking 10 hours to open the road. So, I was instructed to drive 58 miles the other way to get to the hotel. Normally it is only a 12 mile drive! That made me an hour late for work...but I decided there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't know at the time that a 17 year old girl had been killed by a drunk driver. I didn't know about the 88 year old tourist from France who was medivac'd to Oahu along with the girls mother. I only could assume there were fatalities and I felt gratitude for not being involved in it. So I turned up the radio, silently thanked MM for filling my gas tank up the night before and enjoyed the fact that I had a full cup of (kona) coffee to consume on the long ride to work.

Then today happened! I awoke once again at 2am to the news about the terrible earthquake in Chile and soon discovered that all Hawaii islands were under a tsunami warning. (the highest alert). The quake had generated a tidal wave that would take several hours to reach here, but we were told it was coming. So I called my daughter since she was up already living a couple time zones away...and then called my mom to wake her up and tell her I would be safe. I felt a little on the insane side because I was doing the total opposite of what we are instructed to do in a tsunami situation. I was headed to the beach to serve 160 of my closest friends breakfast. Do I need my job that badly??? Couldn't they have eaten donuts on one day? **me thinking out loud!**

Upon arriving on property we were given a form to fill out. I was told that without it I would not be allowed to leave today. I quickly signed that and stuck it in my pocket.

Then we were informed that the beach breakfast was cancelled but we would be involved in the evacuation and feeding of the resort guests at a location out of the tsunami zone at a private golf clubhouse. Coffee was brewed by the gallons. sugar baskets....check! Juice...check! water...check! But before we headed to higher ground, I decided I was going to drive my own car because if a big wave hit...I did not want to lose my "paid for" car! I also stopped at my locker, grabbed my purse, my civilian clothes, and my car keys and phone. The last two items I stuck in my pocket in case I felt the urge to "get out of dodge" later!

The group we were serving had one young girl as one of the contacts in charge. When I took coffee to their office, I saw that she was so scared she was crying and evidently had been for quite some time by the redness of her eyes. I went into "mom mode" and gave her a big hug and assured her that she was safe, we would take care of her and everything was "okay". She later came up and gave me a hug, thanking me. :)

I did mention that these are New Yorkers, didn't I? You see, not so many years ago, my baby girl was in New York on "9 11". She was scared and traumatized. I couldn't be there. But New Yorkers took care of her and today I felt like I was in some small way, able to pay them back. No, it was probably not the same people, but in times of emergency, everyone should pull together as a family, right?

We served breakfast. Not just pastries, mind you, NOOOO a continental would not have done! This buffet had fruit including papaya, pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe, and honey dew melon, eggs, hashbrowns, fried rice, bacon, turkey bacon, mango chicken sausages, and we did an omelet station just to further the "wow".

At some point in the breakfast, the director of Sales and Marketing was going around with his phone cam and interviewing people, asking them how the breakfast was etc. One table of people were hamming it up a little and "tongue in cheek" said, well, I was a bit disappointed that there were no pancakes or waffles!". The manager immediately "apologized" and said that for the NEXT tsunami he would be sure to have pancakes. I heard that and could not pass up an opportunity to impress them! You see, I knew that the chefs had made pancakes....HUNDREDS of them infact...but someone had forgotten the butter and syrup so we didn't put them out. I scurried into the back, plopped 3 pancakes on a plate and rushed out to the table asking, "Did someone order pancakes?" Everyone laughed. Only at a 5 star hotel! The guest then said, "what would happen if I had said I wish there were Bloody Mary's!"? I couldn't help him there!

Then 30 minutes after shutting down breakfast, we broke it down and set up lunch with vegies, rice, fresh fish, chicken, pasta, burgers and hotdogs with chips, deli sandwiches, salads, AND dessert!

Ouch! I should remember to stretch before patting myself on the back that hard! :)

The wave was expected to hit Hilo which is 90 miles away and on the other side of the island, at 11am. At that time we were too busy serving lunch to think much about what may be happening a few hundred feet below us on the coastline. They brought in entertainment to sing and put on a little hawaiian show. I must say, though that part of it struck me as a little bit "Titanic-esque". "and the band played on...." But I'm sure the guests enjoyed it.

By 1:00pm, I was pooped. It was HOT, I hadn't put any sunscreen on that morning so I was sunburnt, and no one would tell us we could go home even though we had stayed past our shifts. So some of us just let them know that we had families and we had done our part. I am sure many people may have stayed. Kudos to them! But I had all the fun I could stand for one day!

By 3pm the surges of waves had mellowed and the tsunami warning was cancelled. So I guess I will be getting up again in the morning at go serve those 160 New Yorkers breakfast again. I wonder if they will remember all that went into keeping them safe today....*sigh*. I guess it doesn't really matter. I did what I needed to and I felt good about it.

In the end, we served breakfast and lunch to 600 guests. The 160, were the ones we were scheduled to serve...the rest were other hotel guests and homeowners at the resort.

So much drama. Please let tomorrow be boring!

a hui hou

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kawaii = Cute

Yesterday, I just could not sew one more burlap bag! I was craving the creative part of my job. I wanted to make something unique and try out something new. So I took the "day off" and just sewed on things that made me smile. I cut out obis and kimono to make some cosmetic bags out of and then I made this cute little bag. In Japanese, Kawaii means cute. It is sort of an inclusive word to describe adorable cartoons, toys etc. I bought this fabric when I was in Walmart the other day. I don't know that I would use it for lots of bags, which is why I didn't purchase it from Trans Pacific wholesalers. Not sure if I could sell 20 yards of it! But for this little bag, it made me smile. It has pirates riding the backs of turtles, dogs, cats, pink pigs and other silly creatures. I combined it with layers of a black and white pin dot fabric and I like how it worked together. I made a matching key fob that can double as a wristlet when attached to the bag. It also comes with an adjustable, removable shoulder strap.

Today....its back to burlap!

a hui hou

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Labels America

I had been wanting to order some special labels for bags that I sell in boutiques. Some of my bags are exclusive to particular boutiques and I do not want to encourage their customers to contact me directly to try to avoid retail pricing, so I did not want to include my website on the new labels. Once again, I called on Linda at Labels America to make it happen for me. The labels are beautiful with the "Sasaki" in gold lurex or metallic thread. It really pops! Below that are the words "Boutique Collection" in my "Sasaki Purple". I am very happy with how they turned out and am looking forward to sewing my first one in a bag SOON!
PS...If you also sew for a living or just want to make your items even more special, I would highly recommend having woven labels made. For information you can contact Linda at

Lipps-Sasaki Bag

One of the galleries that sells Sasaki Bags is Pacific Islands Gallery in Holualoa, Hawaii on the Big Island. The owner, Janet Lipps is a talented artist as well as a designer. She had a giclee made from one of her original paintings and gave it to me a few months ago to see what I could do with it. This morning, I woke up at 5:30 and for some reason was inspired to make a bag out of Janet's giclee. She had a special finish put on it that allows it to be wiped clean and will ensure longer durability. The Amy Butler polka dot print I used with it just happened to be the only fabric I had in my studio that complimented the colors in her painting but I think it adds some whimsy.

I can hardly wait to give it to her to see what she thinks.

Marrying two art forms that "work" thrills me. It is it is what I strive to do with much of my work, in case you haven't noticed! ;o)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Free US Shipping Today Only!

As a gift for reading my blog, following me on twitter or becoming a Facebook Fan, if you would like to make a purchase from my Etsy store TODAY, I will ship your items for free to any US location.

Thanks for following my journey!

a hui hou

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Bags

Here is a sneak peek at a new style of bag I have just released. There are some new components that I haven't implemented in one design before. It has a hardboard bottom, a magnetic snap closure, a cell phone pocket on one side, and a zippered pocket on the other. I used Amy Butler designer fabrics for a touch of "sassiness" and topped it all off with bamboo handles. This bag shown was made from a Hula Daddy coffee bag.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sasaki Bags Productivity

Aloha one and all! What a week I am having so far. Sasaki Bags has been so productive and it is only Tuesday! I rarely make one bag at a time anymore. I find I can get more done by sewing assembly line style. So one day I may make several linings, cut out straps etc. Another day I may make the exterior of the bags. Then on the third day I see the results. So far this week I have completed 22 bags and 53 linings! I am going back through my customer requests and keeping them in mind as I do all my prep work. Being in Kona, I tend to focus primarily on my coffee bags, but with the beautiful photos in GreenCraft of my potato sack purses, I realize I also need to make some of those. (Suzanne, I have not forgotten your market tote).

My original wholesale account is opening up a new store on Oahu in Waikiki. They have asked me to provide bags for the new store as well, so even though it won't open until summer, I have started designing new bags for that store. I am really excited at the opportunities this new store will bring to me. They are encouraging me to make some "higher end bags". I am anticipating an increase in productivity of about 80 bags a month. To make this happen, I have had to hire a seamstress to assist me. I am already planning for the 2010 holiday season so that hopefully I won't be so far behind this year. Christmas stockings are being prepared NOW! Bags are being cut out. Fabric is on my shelves....It is only February and I feel like I am ready to wrap the year up!

I want to let my readers know that I am planning a "special" coming up soon for items in my Etsy shop. The deal will only be available for my blog readers and Facebook Fans. More info will follow in the next few days on my Sasaki Bags Facebook Fan page. If you are thinking of making a purchase....become a "fan" and wait just a few more days. I will make it worth your while, I promise!

Well, this day has come to a close. Morning will come soon, so I must go catch some ZZZsss.

a hui hou

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Catching up

With so much great press lately via blogs, the Honolulu Advertiser and Greencraft magazine, this bag maker finds herself unable to catch up! It's all good though! This week I have cancelled some appointments and plan to lock myself in the sewing studio for long days of stitchin'. I even told MM that I can't be moseying out for coffee with him and sitting after lunch doing the crossword this week. I HAVE got to get caught up on all my orders. Tonight I cut out 60 bags of various designs that I honestly hope to complete before this week is through! Wish me luck!

Have a great week!
a hui hou

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Kikuye

Today is my mother-in-law's 90th birthday! Her whole family has made it home to have dinner with her tonight. One of her grandsons she hasn't seen for over 2 years and he has been hiding out to surprise gramma tonight. My mother-in-law's name is Kikuye Sasaki but since most haoles can't pronounce that, she also goes by "K". She is a hard working woman. Infact, she probably would not have retired 2 years ago if her kids hadn't insisted. She ran a gas station for nearly 40 years and even at age 86, you could drive by the station and see her pumping gas or standing on a milk crate with squeegy in hand to wash the windows on a truck. She is a tiny woman, not even 5' tall but as sharp as a tack. She has been known to enjoy the slots but going to Vegas is getting difficult for her. She loves ...LOVES! sports and watches them all on TV. Sometimes she will call MM just to tell him that UH (the Hawaii team) is playing volleyball on channel 5 at whatever time! She adores tennis and it amuses me that she goes for the cute guys! She used to like Agassi but wasn't thrilled when he shaved his head.

Kikuye lives at her own home and takes care of herself. Her kids come by often to share a meal an can usually find her out working in her yard. She has a huge area that she takes care of and loves her rose garden.

So today, even though I know she will never read this, I want to send out a big "happy birthday" to my "other mom".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sustainable Living

I just found this quote on "". I had seen many of the quotes before but I liked it and decided to share!

Instructions for a Sustainable Lifestyle...
Eat alot of brown rice.
Give more to people than they expect and do it because you want to and like to do it.
Don't beleive all you hear. Don't spend all you have and don't sleep as much as you would like to.
When you say 'I love you, really mean it.
When you say you're sorry, look the person in the eyes.
Never play around with other peoples dreams.
Love deeply and passionately, you might get hurt, but it's the only way to live life complete.
If you're not in agreement, remain loyal. Dont insult.
Dont judge anyone by their relatives.
Speak slowly but think fast.
If someone asks a question you dont want to answer, smile and ask why they want to know.
Remember the biggest love and greatest successes involves the greatest risks.
Phone your parents.
When you loose - dont loose the lesson.
Don't let a small missunderstanding destroy a beautiful friendship.
When you realise you've done wrong - correct it Immediatelly.
Smile when you answer the telephone, whoever has called will be able to hear you smiling.
Spend a little time alone.
Open your arms to changes, but don't let go of your values.
Remember sometimes silence is the best answer.
Read more books and watch less tv.
Live a good and worthylife. When you get old and remember what has been, you can enjoy if for a second time.
A loving atmosphere at home is important. Do all you can to create a calm & harmonious enviroment.
Read between the lines.
Share all you know. It's a way to reach immortality.
Be kind to our planet.
Never interrupt someone.
Don't stick your nose into everything. Don't be nosey.
Never trust a Man/Woman who don't close their eyes when you're kissing Him/Her.
Once a year go to a place you've never been to before.
Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is sometimes a great blessing.
Learn all the Rules and break a few.
Remember the best relationships is where the love between 2 people is stronger and bigger than the dependence and need one has for the other.
Judge your goals in relation to what you have to give up in order to get there.
Approach your kitchen and Love with the same reckless abandon

Just some stuff to make you/me think!

a hui hou!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Honolulu Advertiser Island LIfe

What a nice surprise I got today. I was fixing lunch for MM when a friend, and coffee farmer, called to let me know that my one of my bags was in an article on "Green Bags" going local in the Honolulu newspaper. My bag is pictured along with 7 other artists. They mentioned a store on Oahu where they got it and the pricing along with my web site.

I would just like to thank Melissa May White of HiFi (Hawaii Fashion Incubator) for bringing my bags to the attention of the fashion editor Paula Rath. I appreciate evert opportunity for bringing recognition to my bags. So, mahalo nui loa!

Yesterday I only had 41 fans on facebook so I decided to put the word out that I was pushing for 100! Since I reached my goal in less than 24 hours, I am doing a give-away to a random "fan" tomorrow. I haven't decided yet what to use as the give-away. Hmmmm maybe my new cell phone bag that I made today? Or...maybe one of my Kaloko bags like this Hula bag with the detachable adjustable strap? I need to decide BEFORE I draw the name. Any suggestions?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Silk Yoga Mat Bag

Today I took a break from burlap coffee bags and brought a new diva into the world. This gorgeous (truly she IS!) gal is "Keiko" which means "happy child" in Japanese. Whenever I make a diva out of a kimono or obi, it just feels right that I give her a Japanese name.

I just can not tell you how content I feel right now. I have not had an opportunity to be creative in months. Just been pumping out those tote bags! So this was definately a therapeutic treat for me. It feels like I have been to the spa! *sigh*

Keiko was born on February 5, making her an Aquarius. She is a joyful girl with a sunny disposition who was gifted with the ability to live in the moment. She is fun-loving . Your life will be enriched when you have Keiko as a companion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

GreenCraft Magazine

Big news for Sasaki Bags today! My bags are in a magazine! Several months ago...infact nearly a year ago, I was contacted by someone asking me to mail them a bag or two to possibly be included in an upcoming magazine. It would be the first edition so there was nothing for me to reference. Honestly, I felt a bit skeptical. I had heard of scammers who send out emails like that to just "get free stuff". But I decided to trust. I sent them two bags and didn't hear much for several months. When I did hear from them, they told me that I would not be in the first edition but would be in the next one. The magazine is only published twice a year.

So long story, longer...

I emailed them yesterday and was told that indeed, my bags were included in GreenCraft Magazine's February (Vol. 2) issue. I have not seen it yet but they said they shipped me a copy.

It feels much like something I experienced years ago. My exhusband and I (at the time he was my husband) were in a commercial for Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. We spent several hours filming a 30 second clip but had fun. At the time, we didn't even own a TV! So people kept coming up to me saying, 'we saw you on TV" and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing because I hadn't seen it!

Like that, I do not know which bag they chose to use. I don't know if they used my whole "interview" or parts. But I am celebrating a little recognition today by....SEWING!
a hui hou

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Ground Hog Day!

I heard that Puskatawny (sp) Phil saw his if you are not in Hawaii, I guess that means six more weeks of winter. And Phil is correct 39% of the time! Bundle up!
But if you are in Hawaii, you know what a beautiful weather we have been having. Today I completely ran out of Hula Daddy coffee bags so I had to drop everything and drive up to their farm. Actually, I always look forward to that. They have a cozy visitor's center with koa rockers overlooking their farm and looking further out to the coastline. It really is breathtaking. I planned my trip for the late afternoon when I knew I would be dragging a little bit and really appreciate that shot of caffeine I would be getting there.
(If you look very closely, at the photo with the rocker, you might just see my very own Bolton-Sasaki Bag perched on the couch)
So now I am sufficiently stocked with my most popular bags and can keep busy making bags. Last month I made 120 bags....and sold 125 bags! I can't keep that up very long or I will be starting a waiting list again!
I am also busy designing and redesigning some new bags for Kona Mountain Coffee. They will be opening a second location early this summer and they are interested in some more high end bags. Today I dropped off a gorgeous two-tone red silk bag that had burlap pockets with their logo. They loved it! It may sound a bit strange...but the extreme textures of silk and burlap somehow make a nice marriage (IMHO). The staff and management at KMC are amazing. They really feel like my ohana. (family) They give me creative license to try out new designs and always make me feel appreciated. That is a nice bonus that a business person doesn't expect! I want to have 200+ bags ready for them to open up the new store so I am starting early. I don't like to function in "emergency mode". Planning ahead and breaking it down into manageable tasks fits my nature much better.
Big news tomorrow....drop in to find out what has me all excited!
a hui hou