Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yes, I know it has been eons since I have written in my blog!  I had a very busy summer!   My daughter visited me and we took some "mother-daughter" time.  We rented a house on the other side of the island so that I would be completely away from work.  What a beautiful spot right on the ocean! 
We did some exploring and even found this hidden thermal pool that Sarah jumped into. 
We came back  for the "main event" that we had been looking forward to.  The Kona half Marathon.  It was Sarah's first race since she was little and my first in many years.  I completed the Honolulu Marathon back in 1995 but my body has aged just a little since then.  It was interesting to note that my daughter is now in the same age category for the race that I was the last time I ran!  We had a great day.  We both even set PRs since neither of us had a half marathon under our "spandex" belt before!  It was a gorgeous day to be in Kona and I felt blessed to have my kid with me. 
Then, just a few days after she left, MM and I went back over to the same area for our anniversary.  We stayed in a different little house and had a nice time.  It rained quite a bit so I got to teach him how to play Nerts and we enjoyed the hot tub.  We went to the farmers market and ate out.  A favorite activity! 

You never know what you may see at the local grocery store.  As we were leaving, we saw this guy on a bike with two chickens in his bike basket.  On the bottom of the basket is a rubber chicken!  It cracked me up!  In this photo only the white chicken was in the basket.  The owner was over at the car showing the black one to some little kids. 
Then in July, I flew out to see my mom.  It was a tough trip in some ways because....well, dad wasn't there.  There were some tears and just getting used to the way things are now.  We miss dad everyday.  Mom and I took a road trip together over to Montana to see some relatives.  It was so nice seeing everyone again. 
In July I was awarded a nice large contract for a corporate group that will keep me busy!  It is for a company that I have done bags for in the past and such a joy to have repeat customers.  They chose very different bags this time.  I think that their guests will love them! 
Around the first of September, a dream that I have had for about 4 years came closer to fruition.  I was licensed by a local artist to use some of her prints to have fabric professionally manufactured for the use of making my bags. The artist is one of my favorites.  She is not afraid of color! Really!  I will tell you who very soon!
 I have a lot of work to do before this project will hit the shelves of stores in Hawaii.  I am sourcing all of my hardware to achieve a particular look.  I am making samples for approval by the artist and researching a couple of new boutiques that will be a good fit for this upscale line of bags.  I have to cost out all of my expenses including licensing royalties and put together pricing.  Did I mention how much work this is?  But I am thrilled!  The colors are vibrant and tropical.  I have even created some "bag bling" or handbag "jewelry" for one of the styles using cowry shells to complete the island flavor.  Obviously, I will be releasing more information in the coming weeks.  Color selections will include "Mango", "Ocean", and "Orchid" and are not for the faint of heart!  Here is a sneak peak of the bags I am sampling:

So now you know that I haven't just been sitting around spitting watermelon seeds all summer long!  Nope!  This kid has a dream and knows that dreams only come true when you wake up and work your butt off!  Speaking of working my butt off....I also joined a gym!  So in my "spare time" I am trying to work on taking better care of myself.  I know my dad would approve. 
a hui hou

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Turning the map Blue!

Make yours @

Just for fun I looked up the states that I have shipped to this year.  Ohio and California seem to be the biggest Sasaki Bags fans according to the number of orders from each state.  Go figure! 

Things have been SO busy in the studio that I don't often find time to blog.  I have also been trying to prepare for a half marathon that comes up next month.  I will just be walking it, but endurance is still important.  Too bad that long days sewing don't play into that! 

Anywho...all is well here on the Rock. 

a hui hou
Make yours @

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finding Inspiration

Whenever bloggers or magazines have contacted me for interviews, one of the recurring questions is always, "Who inspires you?"

Those three words cannot be answered so simply.  For instance, today, I was invited to a luncheon that was attended by some wonderful women.  Some I know pretty well and some were strangers to me but only for a short time.  I returned home today feeling at peace and inspired.  None of these women were fellow bag designers. Few even sew!   As we went around the table and caught up on the events of the past year, I was aware of how different our lives are.  There were single moms, still enjoying their youth and celebrating potty training.  There was a long-time single woman who has found love in the past year and will be moving soon.  There was a woman who was displaced by her job and is now doing a variety of jobs to pay the bills and find fulfillment in her life.  Two of us lost our dads another her mother-in-law.  One was just diagnosed with breast cancer and sees a surgeon on Wednesday. (We all held hands and gave her all of our positive thoughts and love and energy.)  Our ages spanned from 30 something to mid 60's.  We all used to work together at one point in our lives at the Four Seasons Hualalai, but most of us have moved on to other ventures while 3 or 4 still remain.  We laughed and said that we are the Fifth Season!   

When I try to pinpoint what exactly it is that makes me feel inspired, I think it has to do with the strength of determination.  That spirit that no matter what...I will be okay!  Failure is not an option.  I can do this! 

I appreciate this spirit in both sexes, but I relate well to women who have overcome obstacles in life.  I find myself cheering them on.  However, men inspire me as well. 

I have long been inspired by my maternal great grandfather. James H. Ridenour was a poet, a business man, a farmer and father and a grandfather. He helped to raise my mom when his daughter died as a young mom.   He passed away when I was only 2 years old.  Yet I have memories of him.  He was a dreamer but also a do-er!

 Back in 1915 he and my great grandma homesteaded on a plot of land in Montana.  Life was hard, according to his memoirs.  I also remember my grandma telling us tales of her husband as a young man taking off from Montana to Mexico on a one speed bicycle.  The inner tubes eventually wore out and he used ropes on his rims to finish his journey.  I love that story.  Never say die!  I wish I had the opportunity to meet him in the present day. His determination inspires me to this day and he has been gone for nearly 50 years!   He is one of my heroes. 

Often people have no idea that they are inspiring.  They are just busy living their lives and through all of that something touches us.  Something deep within our core of our being.  Just being touched by someone else is nice, but when that essence moves us to do something of our own....that, to me, is inspiration. 

a hui hou

One of a Kind Kimono Purses

So often, I have customers who contact me and say, "I know you make silk kimono purses, but I don't see them for sale anywhere"!  First of all, I'm sorry that, so far, I haven't been able to stock enough of them to actually sell in one place.  To date, each of the silk kimono bags that I have sold have been "one of a kind originals" and they sell as I make them....or before!

 For those of you who follow my meandering posts, my silk kimono bags will be part of my "wAomH collection" (stands for "with all of my heart" in memory of my dad and in honor of my mom who I will always love wAomH).  I am making the kimono bags now, but am working on a design for my new labels and hardware to showcase in that collection.  Production always takes longer than I wish it did, so I am shooting for 2013 for a release of phase one of the collection.  One thing for certain is that each of the bags in this line will each be as unique as you and I are.  They will each demand my undivided attention and I will put "all of my heart" into each one.  And someplace, somewhere, on each bag, it will bear a heart insignia whether subtly or boldly!  Stay tuned!

I am also shooting for a launch on my new website....but it all takes time...precious time. 

So in the meantime, if there is something special you would like for yourself or for a gift, please feel free to contact me at  I am a real person in a real studio here in Hawaii and welcome your requests. 

a hui hou

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New design

What would it be like to work a 5 day work week?  Hmmm....But when you do what you love, are you really working?  I have been trying a new schedule lately.  I "work" 6 days a week and on the 7th day, I let myself make whatever I want to.  It is my version of a "day off".  So although I may have projects that I am working on, I really need to allow myself the time to "create".  Otherwise my ideas stagnate and I become a factory instead of a designer.  If you are one of the gals waiting on her bag, I'm sorry, but this is really something I need to do.  I promise to finish them all in the order that they were taken!

This week on my "day off" I was working on a new clutch design.  All of my boutiques that I sell to keep saying that they want clutches!  Yet, when I polled my facebook friends, the majority want a shoulder strap.  Go figure!  It may have something to do with the age group.  Most of my FB friends (34%) are 50 and over.  That is basically ME!  So I have been trying to think outside of my box and putting myself in the mindset of a 20-30 something gal, I came up with a new design.  It is very angular.  Much like the skinny girls I imagined carrying it!  ha!  I just won't copy other bag makers (intentionally). So I really wanted to try something a bit different. 

To keep everyone happy, (I've been trying to do this all of my life!) I added an O-ring on each side so  that the bag can have a shoulder strap OR remove it and attach a wrist strap....or not.  This bag is sturdy and padded.  As I went along, by my 3rd bag I added on piping and some fun lining.  But now I am in a quandry over , "should I sell the bag as a clutch and offer the shoulder strap as an extra?  or should I charge a bit more and include both a wrist strap AND and shoulder strap?"  Oh, my! 

Then after all that was said and done, I was sorting out some of my stash and came across my "bin-o-feathers" from when I was making my diva bags, which I haven't done for a very long time.  So I got this wild feather up my....uh...nose and thought...."why not?".  I love contrast so did something a bit daring and added some feathers to my burlap bag.  What do you think? 

It is a bit sassy, like me but even MM likes it!  But then, MM even likes that I'm sassy!  You can't beat that!  The backside of the bag still boasts "100% Hawaiian" so I'm not getting TOO serious with my design.  However, I did start thinking of this angular design done in silk or even a kimono silk with or without feathers.....  Maybe I need to take 2 days a week for myself!  But for now...its back to my sweat shop. 

It even stands up and celebrates the life of a "Couch Potato"!

a hui hou

Salvaging a Rainy Day in Hawaii


You've saved for months or even longer!  You've just flown 1000's of miles only to see that rain is in the forecast for Hawaii.  What can you do?  Don't despair.  Your vacation plans may have changed but they are NOT ruined!  Be flexible, like the bamboo.  There is a reason that our islands are green and lush.  It is from the rain.  Here are some suggestions for how you can salvage a rainy day in Hawaii:

1.  Spa Day!  Oh yea!  I love spending at least one day of my vacation in a great spa even if the weather is sunny!  Call ahead.  Book a couple of treatments but go early and spend the day enjoying the jacuzzis and saunas. 

2.  Take a class at a local bead shop.  Many of the little shops are quite flexible and even welcome drop-ins.  I recommend a wire wrap class.  You can learn how to turn anything from small pieces of driftwood, coral or beach glass into pendants and earrings.  It is a skill you will have for life and even young ones can get in on it. 

3.  Go shopping!  Like you really needed a reason to do that, right?  Hawaii spawns creativity is seems.  There are SO many talented artisans on each island that I am always amazed and inspired by them.  If it is safe enough to be on the roads, drive to the little out-of-the-way towns and check out their galleries and boutiques.  On the Big Island, check out Hawi!  Oh how I love that town.  It is just charming!  Also Holualoa and Waimea have some great shops.  On Oahu, drive to the north shore and see what Haleiwa has to offer.  Molokai?  Yes, they have great shops too.  I think they are all on the mainstreet.  Specifically stop in to Kalele Bookstore.  Kauai?  Oh yes, who doesn't know how much I adore that island?  Pretty much any little town on that island will have unique gift boutiques.  In Koloa, check out Palm Palm.  There are also little shops near Eleele and over in Princeville and Hanalei.  Adventure out as long as there are conditions safe enough to do so. 

4.  Find a LOCAL coffee shop.  Get a cup of Kona Coffee or even coffee from the other islands.  Don't wast your vacation time drinking coffee at the big mainland name shops.  You could do that anywhere!  Shop local.  Be friendly with the staff and they may even offer more suggestions exclusive to their island for rainy day things to do.  Buy a local paper, do a crossword puzzle and RELAX! 

5.  Take a walk in the rain.  Most often tropical rain is fairly warm.  A huge downpour is an experience you will never forget.  There is something quite liberating about walking with no umbrella and knowing you are going to get soaked.  Don't fight it.  You won't melt.   Just be safe!  Stay on high ground and be aware of your surroundings.  We don't want to lose anyone!

6.  Go to a movie.  I know, you could do that anywhere.  But some warm buttery popcorn on a rainy day sounds pretty good to me. 

7.  Get a day pass to a local yoga studio or gym.  Most fees are $10 or less. 

8.  Make lei.  Longs drugstores carry the long lei making needles near the checkout stands.  Ask if you don't see them.  There are many things you can make lei out of.  My suggestion is to always make one more lei than you need.  Drive to a local beach and present your lei randomly to someone you don't know.  It will make their day.  Usually they expect you are wanting money!  ha!  When you just say "Aloha, have a great day", it truly is a welcome random act of aloha. 

9.  Wine, don't whine!  Some of the wine shops on the islands offer free tastings.  Call ahead and ask. 

10.  Accept that you can not control the weather.  Go with the flow and don't let it ruin your day.  The islands will give you just what it is that you need and it isn't always a sunny beach.  Take this time to slow down, enjoy your loved ones and make some new memories.  Remember, no rain, no waterfalls!

A hui hou

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Today I have been working on a small order but thinking of things much more grand!  Sometimes I am unaware of how often I daydream....other times, like today, I wallow in my daydreams.  I have a very grand idea that when I decide to pursue will have many baby steps along the way before it will become the reality of which I dream.  Of course it is a "bag" idea.  But it would also be something in rememberance of my dad.  "What!? A purse that reminds you of your dad?" you ask.  No, my dad was definately a gun toting guy, not handbag toting kind of guy.  But there was something that my dad said so many times. 

I never became aware of the words until the weeks before his death but now they echo lovingly through my soul.  The words were, "I love you, with ALL of my HEART.  They were spoken slowly with such a depth of feeling.  They were always followed by a closed lip smile and often a kiss.  What a gift he left behind!  So although it is still in the dreamy,  state of the process of making things happen, I can see something wonderful and sweet and with a heart theme.  Hey!  You don't expect me to give it all away right now, do you?  My dream of the bags would be something that I could make "with all of my heart",  individually as if I were making them for myself.  Bags that only I would sell in my shop instead of offering them wholesale.  Each bag would have some sort of heart reference.  Some blatant, others subtle that you would have to search for.  I envision keys and locks and tassles and such in jewel tones and leather and wonderful kimono silks!  But as I have learned, you have to wake up to make your dreams come true.  And right now, that means finishing this small order that still sits on my table to earn the money, to order the supplies, that fit on the bags... that I dream of. 

a hui hou

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Relay For Life

I have just been invited to join team "Drug Runners" at the July 14, 2012 Relay for Life event. Here are the details I was sent today:
"The Relay is July 14-15 (overnite). We each commit to raise at least $100. Our team name is Drug Runners (it was started by a group of female pharmacists who formed a running club, hence the name). Our theme this year is "A Spoonful of Sugar" in line with the overall theme Songs of Hope. Our decor will be Mary Poppins-esque. We have a lot of fun at the Relay and we all work real hard to raise as much as we can for ACS, we have been the top fund raising team every year we have participated and this will be our 4th year. We have to really work hard to do better this year."
With the loss of my dad this year from esophageal cancer, I am looking forward to being able to contribute in a positive way towards the fight against cancer. I will be making some bags to donate to the silent auction. I am also brainstorming about other ways to raise funds for this event.
Last year, one of the team members made this lantern in honor of my dad's fight. I was out visiting him during the event so they emailed me a photo of the lantern made for him. He was SO very touched that strangers would be cheering him on. I remember the tears in his eyes and the smile this photo brought to his face. This year, I will be making my own lantern in rememberance of my dad.
If anyone would like to help out by sponsoring my efforts, feel free to email me or message me on Facebook.
ahui hou

Monday, January 30, 2012

Setting and Reaching Goals

I have always been a goal oriented person. It is just how I get things that I want. Remember back when I wanted to sell 1000 bags in a year? Boy that seems like a long time ago! After I surpassed 3000 in a year, I pretty much quit counting bags and started setting financial goals. I was telling a girlfriend the other day how I look at my sales from the past year and think, "How can I turn that $25,000 account into a $30,000 account?". She laughed because as a successful business person, she has never had to do that. And here I thought everybody did that! When failure isn't an option, I feel like I always have to be on my toes and planning for the future.
Honestly, I look at things like that and for example if I want to increase my sales to one of my stores by $5000 for the year, I break it down into what it means for me as far as productivity. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, I figure that I would need to increase my sales by about $100 per week to achieve that particular goal. I then look at the type of bags that I sell to that particular account and figure out how many bags that translates into. It may mean developing a new design that will sell better in a particular location. Or concentrating on bags that require less time to produce since I haven't yet figured out how to extract extra time out of a day. (still working on that one).
Looking back on life, I recall planning for family vacations a year in advance so that we would have the funds to cover hotel, gas, food and fun. Other things in life I really don't like to plan too far in advance. If I have to make an appointment for something a week from now like getting my hair cut, it stresses me out. I don't like having to be someplace at a particular time when I don't know what next week will bring. But when it comes to $$$, I like to plan. That is why I am having a sale in my Etsy store for the next 7 hours. I have monthly goals that I would like to achieve in my own retail sales and this month is nearly over with me being SO close to my monthly goal! So I am giving a 25% discount to all of my facebook friends and fans when they use a code. It will put me over my goal and be a nice "mahalo" to all of my customers. I may be utilizing this sale technique throughout the year when I have a goal I need to reach. So be on the look out towards the end of each month to see what I am offering.
I have lots of goals. Some are business related, others are health and fitness related and some are just related to being a good person. Will I reach them all? Probably not all of them. But one thing is certain. Without setting goals I wouldn't achieve any of them. So as I embark on a new year, I am setting goals and dreaming big.
How about you? Do goals keep you focused? Have you thought about goals you may have for this year? All my best to you.
a hui hou

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't Shoot the Messenger!

The Messenger bag has been on my "to do" list for a very long time. Back in September a customer put in a special request for a Sasaki Bags Messenger tote. Life got in the way for a few months and thankfully this customer from New Zealand was very patient! (thanks Ann!). Finally I was able to focus my attention to designing this bag and I am thrilled with how it turned out. It is roomy enough for a laptop computer or all of your campus books. It has an adjustable pocket with a buckle inside to secure your computer or tablet and it even has a hidden zipper in the flap!
I included an exterior pocket to slip her cell phone into and added a zip top and buckles for extra security!
I seem to have been inspired lately to finish projects and allow myself to be creative with making new designs. It feels pretty good!
I have SO MANY ideas....Who knows what I will come up with next? Stay tuned!
a hui hou

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Burlap Purse with ruffles

I love contrast! This week burlap and ruffles were my contrast of choice. It is just a little bit "unexpected", and I like that! This week I was finishing up my inventory for taxes and was digging through this one big ole bin that is marked "Bags in Progress". I put things in there that I start and for some reason never get around to finishing! There are straps without bags, bags, without straps, linings without bags and bags without linings. One of the things I came across was some Amy Butler fabric that I had sewn into long strips to try out a new pattern (last year!). The strips were to become ruffles.
Well, I decided to get in touch with my inner "girly girl" and apply some of those colorful ruffles to a Kealakekua style hobo bag. I liked it so much that I decided to keep the bag for myself...because, a girl can never have too many Sasaki Bags! (shameless self promotion!) Actually I made some design changes to this bag, besides the ruffled addition, and I want to test drive it to see if the stress points have been eliminated and how it wears. If all goes well, I will be making more of these fun colorful bags. I have about 100 yards of Amy Butler fabric that I hope to use up this year and can already imagine some of the great color combos to use on more ruffles. I better get started!
a hui hou

iPad Fever

Sasaki Bags is now offering iPad bags and sleeves. It seems that everyone and their cousin now own an iPad! Even me! (Thank you MM!) So while some of you on the mainland may be suffering from cabin fever as the first big snowfall of the year has finally hit, I am here on the Big Island with iPad Fever! Beware! It just may be highly contagious! I started making iPad bags and I just can't seem to quit! One of the things that I love is that the burlap ones are very unisex. MM is comfortable packing one around without feeling like an "aunty".
Then once I got on the roll, I had a free, creative day that I tackled some of my obis and resurrected them into iPad shoulder bags. They are all silk on the exterior with a punch of color in the center. I took mine on a buying trip to Honolulu last week and loved all the compliments I received. I also liked that with the extra pocket, I was able to use it as a purse when we went out to dinner and I wanted something dressier than the burlap tote I had taken on the trip.
Speaking of my buying trip...
Today I am expecting the delivery of about 400 yards of fabric that I purchased from my wholesalers on Oahu. I stocked up on thread for the year, bought a new foot for Consuelo that is making life easier, and found some new bamboo handles to apply to new bags. It was a lot to squeeze into 2 days but I got so much accomplished that it made me feel pretty darn good!
I purchased some new fabric that I am excited to put into circulation. I am hoping to release it to my Waikiki locations to see what kind of buzz it stirs up with all our island visitors. Stay tuned for that!
So that about catches me up on the year so far. Sewing, shopping, and spending. Not a bad way to start off a new year!
a hui hou