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Saturday, April 19, 2014         

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The "Field of Dreams" quotation, "If you build it, they will come," does not apply to all entrepreneurs who have what they believe to be great ideas for products consumers will love.

He's been told to prepare to go viral. Larry Rutkowski's "Hell No Kitty" designs once caught the eye of a marketing executive from Disney who leaned in for some close conversation with him about one of his product lines.

This is a big season for Simply Sisters by Lola Miller Designs. The Big Island jewelry and apparel company has just received a shipment of its first bolts of top-grade rayon fabric designed and made exclusively for it.

Angie Higa became an entrepreneur at age 11, selling hand-crocheted bikini tops at the long-lamented Waialae Drive-In Theater swap meet. Given that, it should be no surprise that following a 30-year career at Central Pacific Bank, she's back in business for herself making things by hand.

Barbara Chung didn't give up a workaday office routine to start her Palapala Designs woodblock print business three years ago. She always has been a fine artist, she said, "always drawing and painting." She has helped people with colors, such as for interior design, and worked as a floral designer for weddings and in other artistic endeavors.

Christine Coleman, her business and life partner, Manny Ochoa, and her son Justin Olson are marking the 10th anniversary of their Kona and Hilo-side coffee-growing operations this year.

Few crafters can allow themselves to even dream about vacating their vocation to work full-time on their beloved avocation, but it's no dream for Deneen Sakugawa of Maui.

Sometimes summer camp can set the direction for the rest of your life. "There was a girl there wearing a silver ring," said Charms of Aloha Inc. owner Cathleen Bunt. When the girl told her she made the ring herself, "I was totally fascinated that somebody my own age made jewelry," she said.

It's true what they say, sometimes all you have to do is ask. Had Jeff Gomes not asked, he would not have gotten a seller-financed deal to buy Hawaii Bookmarks from Larry Peck, its successful founder.

Hawaii's flora, and in some cases, fauna, have become Debra Dolsberry's inspiration for Debra.Silks for the past five years.

Chic Naturals is not an airy-fairy clothing line made from organic hemp for hippie chicks. The first word isn't even pronounced "sheek." Rather, "Chic" is pronounced "chick" and is taken from the first four letters of the product's main ingredient, chickpeas.

Many of the kawaii-mono, or cute things, made by Bit of Sugar LLC look good enough to eat, but neither Lei Matsuura nor Brad Tada is a baker or confectioner.

The recent cold snap has served as the usual annual reminder of how comforting it is to bundle up in warm jammies, put on thick fuzzy socks and get under a soft quilt.

Imagine getting the fruits of your labors into chain stores nationwide with financial help from the chain itself. Maui Taro Burger-maker Hawaii Taro Co. LLC, founded by Robert Mitnick, is the first local company to receive a loan from the Whole Foods Market Local Loan Producer Program.

Like mother, like daughter. Gale Sagucio, Niihau shell lei and jewelry maker and proprietress of JJ Ohana, grew up helping her mother, Filomena "Fely" Hashitate, with her businesses.

She bakes her own cookies for retail sale, so it only makes sense that Elizabeth Hata Watanabe would introduce her own Haute Confectionery Boutique line of cookie butter.

With just about 200 square feet of retail space, Rubber Stamp Plantation is hardly the largest Hawaii store open on this Black Friday, but it is open and it is having a sale.

A Christmas tree need not come from the Pacific Northwest to be beautiful. If you don't like to read anything about Christmas until after you've eaten turkey and all the trimmings, please save this page for next week.

A kindhearted gesture by Mitzi Toro of Maui turned into a business that might have closed were it not for a member of a fifth-generation chocolate-making family.

Life handed Kim Weaver lemons in the form of a work-related injury that prevented her from returning to her job.

Had it not been for Hurricane Iniki in 1992, Sinaloa Hawaiian Tortillas might not be in nearly every grocery store and Mexican restaurant on Oahu and Kauai.

Ken Hirata was nervous when Toshihiro Manzen came to visit him from Japan in April, as the shochu master was coming straight from the airport to sample his pupil's first commercial batch of Namihana, his Hawaii-made sweet-potato shochu.

Palaka, or the Hawaiian version of plaid, has been around more than 100 years, and Rodney "Sparky" Doo is seeing a resurgence of interest in the once-ubiquitous "Hawaiian denim," which he markets as Palaka Hawaii.

Even a Japanese emperor's fish tales could not be exaggerated once gyotaku prints were made depicting the size of his catch. That is one version of how the Japa­nese rendition of this type of nature printing came about.

You say NOO-gut, she says noo-gah, because she is a confectioner classically trained in making nougat in France, and that’s how they say it there.

Retiring to Hawaii in 1995 and going into business selling fossils and stuff was a brilliant idea for Fran and Wes Cummins.

Moms raise their children to stay away from sharp cutting tools, torches, hot ovens, breakable glass and broken glass, but mother and artisan Julie Johnson makes her living around all those things.

You might think "Niihau shell lei" when you hear the company name 808 Shells, or perhaps beachy, seashell jewelry.

Ecolicious, Flying Koi by Doi and Doi & D'Angelo Artworks all sprang from the seed that was a 2007 news report.

Broad and sturdy banana leaves, prolific ti leaves, idyllic bird of paradise plants and charming honu, or turtles, all can be seen in practical and artful ceramic form at Tropical Clay — if you know how to find them.

From nondescript packaging with plain white labels, Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts LLC has upped its game with sleek re-branding, plans for a store and a trip to the Summer Fancy Food Show industry exposition in New York.

Normally "Buy Local" focuses on one Hawaii company that makes a product or products in Hawaii, but this time it's about a Hawaii company, soon to expand to the mainland, that helps organizations raise funds by selling mostly made-in-Hawaii food favorites made by a range of companies.

East Honolulu Clothing Co. may not yet be a household name, but it is well known to some well-placed customers, happy pictures of whom fill a cork board at the back of the Wai­ma­nalo store.

Hawaii-grown and made Malie Kai Chocolates Inc. will soon have its own retail store in the Royal Hawaiian Center in the heart of Waikiki. Upon its July 16 opening on Level 1 in Building C, the company will unveil a new product — Hawaiian rum truffles — that will be available exclusively at the new shop.

There's a good chance the colorful decals on the vehicles you see around you in traffic were made right here in Hawaii by Nalu Blue founder Manny Salvador.

It is the type of stuff that makes you smile, or grin, or laugh out loud, and it is made by a mom-and-pop business with the kids' help and input — though this mom and pop, Terri Dux and Karl Miyashiro, are not married to each other.

The southernmost bakery in the U.S. finds itself needing to expand, having reached capacity. Punaluu Bake Shop's bakery and visitor center on the Big Island has become such a popular stop for visitors and local residents that it served roughly 343,000 guests in 2012.

The packaging is so funny you might not notice that Filthy Farmgirl soaps, lotions and lip balms are made in Hawaii.

In addition to invention, necessity also can be the mother of reinvention, as was the case for Andrea Gall-Krasnick.

Tiare Nakayama is one of those people who always baked for family occasions, and "a lot of family members were like, ‘You should sell your things,'" she said.

When you meet an entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in clinical and forensic psychology, you expect to shake her hand. Nope. Denyse Ray is a hugger.



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UH Senior Fashion Show
The 48th annual University of Hawaii Senior Fashion Show is set for April 27 at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, featuring the designs of seven senior and seven junior designers. Read More »
 
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