Made in Hawaii Fest offers isle goods

Aug. 16, 2014 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
(Dennis Oda / / 2013)

(Dennis Oda / / 2013)

By LYNN COOK / Special to the Advertiser

Back in the day the Made in Hawaii Festival had 60 booths, with a diagram that fit on one sheet of paper. That was 20 years ago. Now the list of booths tops 450, and the program is eight pages with a map.


When: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday,
Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena
Cost: $5, children 6 and under free
Info: 533-1292,
Getting there: Free, dedicated Waikiki Trolley service is offered 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Pickup/ drop-off points are Hilton Hawaiian Village on Kalia Road, the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel on Kalakaua Avenue, the Ohana West on Kuhio Avenue and the Neal Blaisdell Center.

So, ladies and gentlemen, start your shopping engines. Grab the credit card, a tote bag and your walking shoes and head for Made in Hawaii, a buy-local shoppers’ paradise, with its row upon row of opportunities to support entrepreneurs and Hawaii businesses.

IN THE ARENA, food booths waft the fragrance of coffee, grown from Kau to Kauai. Several times each day the air is infused with the fragrance of fine food, wafting from grills where celebrity chefs, including James Aptakin (Hilton Waikiki Beach), Chef J (12th Avenue Grill), Chai Chaowasaree (Chef Chai), Ronnie Nasuti (Tiki’s Grill & Bar), Jason Takemura (Pagoda Floating Restaurant), David Lukela (The Beachhouse at Moana Surfrider), Vikram Garg, (Halekulani), and Chef JJ (JJ’s Bistro), will create (and share) dishes using local products.

The Pikake Room has always been a haven during the event, with chairs and Hawaiian music. This year, there’s an addition: For Made in Hawaii’s 20th year, the business development division of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is presenting a new product showcase.

It’s a “festival within the festival,” said DBEDT’s Lyle Fujikawa, featuring food, fashion and culture.

INNOVATE Hawaii, a program of the High Technology Development Corporation, will showcase new products from local food manufacturers.

HiFi, the Hawaii Fashion Incubator, is dedicated to promoting Hawaii fashion as art and industry. It offers a HiFi Boutique, with apparel and accessories by six vendors, and onstage fashion shows.

The Hawaii Cultural and Retail Association will feature eight cultural artisan members’ products and demonstrations, showcasing the traditional and contemporary. Members are kumu hula, lauhala weavers, lei-makers, craftsmen, lomilomi practitioners, jewelry designers, fine artists, graphic artists, textile artists, authors, media professionals, kahu, Hawaiian educators, organic farmers, entertainers and business leaders.

Musical performances include Na Hoku Hanohano winners Melveen Leed, Jay Larin, Jerry Santos, Kapena, Kamakakehau Fernandez, Del Beasley, Maunalua, Kawika Kahiapo, Cyril Pahinui, Frank De Lima, Makana and Danny Couch. Contestants in the Outrigger Reef Kani Ka Pila Grille Talent Search will also perform.

RULES APPLY at Made in Hawaii. More than half of the wholesale value of each product must be manufactured, assembled, produced or fabricated of materials Made in Hawaii.

For clothing designers, fabric is a challenge, because fiber plants, like cotton, are not native to Hawaii. The best they can do is order yardage, pay shipping and print fabric in the islands.

Aaron Kawai'ae'a of He Ono Productions, with the book "Kohala Kuamo'o: Nae'ole's Race to Save a King." (Bruce Asato /

Aaron Kawai’ae’a of He Ono Productions, with the book “Kohala Kuamo’o: Nae’ole’s Race to Save a King.” (Bruce Asato /

NAE’OLE, THE WARRIOR who saved the life of future king Kamehameha by hiding the destined baby deep in a valley, was ancestor to Walter Kawai’ae’a.

As a young father, he found the story of Nae’ole written in Hawaiian and took it to famed cultural interpreter Mary Kawena Pukui for translation. She advised him to never forget the tale, and to repeat it often to his son.

Kekauleleanae'ole Kawai'ae'a holds his book, "Kohala Kuamo'o." (Courtesy of the Kawai'ae'a family)

Kekauleleanae’ole Kawai’ae’a holds his book, “Kohala Kuamo’o.” (Courtesy of the Kawai’ae’a family)

He did, and also to his grandson, Kekauleleanae’ole Kawai’ae’a. And then the story took on a new life of its own.

What started as the 9-year-old grandson’s school project became a book, “Kohala Kuamo’o” by He Ono Productions. The book was authored by the grandson, illustrated by son Aaron Kawai’ae’a and published by Kamehameha Publishing.

All three generations are ready to autograph the book in the Pikake Room during Made in Hawaii, as part of the Hawaiian Culture and Retail Association’s presentation.

SHAVE ICE was at the beginning of Bronson Chang’s path to Made in Hawaii. It all started in 2007 when, on summer break from UCLA, the Punahou grad headed straight to his Uncle Clay’s place in Aina Haina — a crack seed store turned candy and shave ice shop.

Before Bronson got to the bottom of the cone, he says his college major in entrepreneurship led him to ask, “How can we make it better?”

Fast-forward seven years to what is now Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha (aka HOPA), known for its use of all-natural ingredients and fresh fruits. Dried candied ginger is a favorite.

Hokule’a navigator Nainoa Thompson was a neighbor and customer. Ginger seemed just right for the canoe crews and HOPA has shipped 60 pounds at a time. Using the Newman’s Own model for contributing profits to a cause, HopAle’a Ginger Chocolate was created, with proceeds from the chocolate-dipped ginger candy benefiting the Hokule’a’s worldwide voyage. The new candy and HOPA will premiere at Made in Hawaii.

Uncle Clay Chang, Bronson Chang and Tyler Fujita, of Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha. (Bruce Asato /

Uncle Clay Chang, Bronson Chang and Tyler Fujita, of Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha. (Bruce Asato /

MICHAEL AND SHARON Matsumoto have been selling sea salt since the second year of Made in Hawaii. Their company, Som’ Good Things, uses salt harvested from 2,200 feet below the surface of the ocean. Michael says salt from deep-sea water

is clean, doesn’t deplete Hawaii’s salt ponds and has less sodium than table salt.

“When I was 6 I made banana bread,” Michael Matsumoto said, recalling his start. “When I was 20, I mixed a bit of this and a bit of that. … My friends said don’t forget the salt for the tailgate party,” and he had an inspiration.

One day he took his salty creation to a “small-kine” craft fair in Pearl City, selling all 100 bottles, and his business was on its way.

Michael and Sharon Matsumoto of Som' Good Things. Taleah Smith of Indigo Sage Designs. (Bruce Asato /

Michael and Sharon Matsumoto of Som’ Good Things. (Bruce Asato /

TALEAH SMITH, part of the HiFi Fashion group in the Pikake Room, is bringing 200 fashion pieces to Made in Hawaii. Her company, Indigo Sage Designs, is a one-woman show, though she mentions that her 4-year old daughter is now submitting design ideas.

At 15, she got her mom’s old Singer sewing machine and expanded her own wardrobe, and that was the beginning of a life’s work. She built her own home and lived off the grid on the Hamakua Coast, but now lives with her three children in Waimea, where, she says, “the power can be counted on to run the sewing machine.”

Taleah Smith of Indigo Sage Designs. (Bruce Asato /

Taleah Smith of Indigo Sage Designs. (Bruce Asato /

Smith’s clothing designs have moved from “slightly hippie” to sophisticated, she said. Her favorite fabrics are soy, bamboo silk, hemp and recycled poly that was once plastic bottles. She calls the selection “vegetarian cashmere,” user-friendly and washable.

Making her passion into a career, Smith does it all — design, patterns, sewing and running the business from home.

No Comments

Comments are closed.