Archive for July, 2013

Lee Sands unloads inventory of beads, gemstones and eel skin

July 30th, 2013


Nadine Kam photos
Carnelian, tiger's eye and amethyst beads and gemstones are among the items up for grabs at the Lee Sands closeout sale going on now at the First Interstate (First Hawaiian) bank building on King Street.

Yesterday I got a breathless call from handbag designer Lynda Sakraida, of Hadji Baba Bags, about Lee Sands' closeout sale. She said she had dropped a lot of money there and was doing her best to stay away, but she thought all crafters and jewelry makers should know about it.

After several decades in the jewelry and accessories business, Hawaii-based QVC entrepreneur Sands is making plans to retire, and that means liquidating his entire inventory of beads, freshwater pearls, gemstones, finished jewelry, eel leather handbags and small leather goods, now being offered at cost.


Bags of gemstones available at $5 per bag.

Examples include finished necklaces at $7, stone beads at about $5 per strand and bags of beads for $5.

Even though yesterday was a strange day with tropical depression Flossie on the way, I wasn't sure whether the sale event would be open because so many workers were sent home, just in case. But there they were, and told me I had just missed Sakraida, who, just hours before, had told me she wasn't going to go because she had already spent too much stocking up on findings, that I'm sure will now find their way to embellish her artful handbags!

The Lee Sands closeout sale is taking place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays on the 16th floor of the First Interstate (First Hawaiian) building at 1314 South King St. The sale is being replenished weekly and will continue until everything is gone. Staffers believe this will take a month or more, but they may not know the extent of Hawaii's appetite for crafting and jewelry making.

Only check or cash is accepted, and validated parking is available with a $100 purchase.


Eelskin accessories were among Lee Sands original claims to fame, and his company still has a bigger market in eelskin items than jewelry.


Strands of freshwater pearls are being offered at $7 each.


For non-crafters, some finished jewelry is also available.

John Paul Mitchell launches website with 1,000 product giveaway

July 29th, 2013


John Paul DeJoria, of John Paul Mitchell, is celebrating the launch of his new website as well as the visionary award he was just bestowed by the  Green Business Bureau, by gifting 1,000 free items to subscribers at 9 a.m. PST July 30.

For your chance to receive one of the website's free sustainable products, ranging from beauty and health items to clothing, jewelry and accessories, log on to at the appointed time. The website aims to support new companies offering sustainable products.

Products will be offered on a first come, first serve basis as a way of sampling new items, and shoppers will be asked to pay for shipping.

Disco days revisited at 'Black Tie & Blue Jeans'

July 24th, 2013


Stanley Okada photo
Finalists in the best-dressed segment of the American Heart Association's 16th annual "Black Tie & Blue Jeans," the Disco edition. Richard Kessler, back, was the male winner for his patchwork and camel-color ensemble. Keely Burns, in the gold lamé jumpsuit was the female winner.

If you walked into The Pacific Club on July 20, you might have thought you'd stepped into a time machine, with The American Heart Association hosting its 16th annual "Black Tie & Blue Jeans" event, this time with a 1970s disco theme.

It was  "Saturday Night Fever" redux as dozens of men attempted to channel their best John Travolta Tony Manero dance-floor pose, while women slinked about in lamé and jumpsuits, and huge afros paid homage to Black Power icon Angela Davis and musicians and actors like Sly and the Family Stone, Pam Grier and Billy Preston.

No doubt the retro styles are fun and humorous to look at now, but I just wondered how society evolved at the time to have such collective bad taste. As bad as it was, I thought the '80s marked the worst period for fashion ever and I'm happy with the minimalist mindset that swept all that away beginning in the 1990s.

BTBJ included dinner, live auction and popular silent auction of merchandise ranging from jewelry to spa services to dining certificates and several wines.

It all built up to an evening on the disco floor or whiling the hours til midnight at BTBJ's casino complete with roulette, craps and 21 tables.

Meanwhile, AHA's message wasn't lost as they reminded guests of "Two Steps to Saying Alive," the first by calling 911, and the second by learning to apply CPR by pushing your hands hard and fast in the center of the stricken person's chest, to the beat of The Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive," which they say at 100 beats per minute is the ideal rate for performing CPR! Who knew?

Check out a demo here:


Nadine Kam photos
Danny Kim pulls his best John Travolta "Saturday Night Fever" move, with Marni Sakumoto, on the disco floor.


From left are Lori Suan, executive director of the American Heart Association Hawaii  division; Christian Adams,  Carlsmith Ball LLP partner and Black Tie  &  Blue Jeans chairman; and Lesli Yano, director, special events for the

American Heart Association photo

Purchase of a $10 disco band granted entry to Disco Dance Central and karaoke areas. There were also disco ball necklaces for $5.


From left, Lacy Matsumoto, Kecia Littman, Juri Ko and Todd Tripp.


Joe Bock on the dance floor with Keely Burns.


From left, Forest Frizzell, Chris Abbott, Meli James and Chenoa Farnsworth.


While many danced, others ended the night in the casino, a popular return engagement, with roulette, craps and blackjack tables.




It was a night of costume elsewhere as I headed to Kakaako after "Black Tie/Blue Jeans to help Grant "Chuggy Bear" Shindo mark his birthday, at Whole Ox Deli. While there, we encountered pirates who'd come ashore after a sail with the Treasure Seeker. Clockwise from left, Russell Moore, Chris Cano, Jon Albiola, Karla Moore and Erika Alexander. For Hawaii Pirate Ship Adventures tour information, call 593-AHOY (2469).

Fighting Eel marks 10th anniversary

July 23rd, 2013

Nadine Kam photos

Emma Wo on the runway at Royal Hawaiian Center, where Fighting Eel celebrated its grand opening and 10th anniversary with a fashion show.

Fighting Eel marked two milestones July 20, celebrating the grand opening of the company's Royal Hawaiian Center boutique, and its 10th anniversary, with a fashion show of designs from the Waikiki store.

The show opened cute, with Baby Eel designs modeled by second-generation Eels, sisters and daughters of FE's Lan Chung and Linh Owen, before moving onto the adult, but fun and flirty styles that have won the hearts of women in tropical climes around the world.

The company started with just the universe of two dreamers, Chung and Rona Bennett, as outlined in my Star-Advertiser story, which you can read if you have an SA subscription:

It's always great to see a local company doing well. Happy 10th!

Non-flash video link


A floral pineapple in the front of Fighting Eel's third and newest boutique bears the FE logo.


Pineapples also graced the runway, and after the fashion show guests were allowed to eat the decor. From left, Melanie Yang, Dara Lum and Fighting Eel's Lan Chung.

Kathy Pang, left, wears FE's pineapple print, with Susan Todani, center, and Jackie Todani.


Nani Hirosane, assistant marketing director, and Helene "Sam" Shenkus, marketing director at Royal Hawaiian Center, show their support dressed in Fighting Eel. (more…)

Bliss Lau back in town

July 23rd, 2013

Nadine Kam photos

Bliss Lau at a meet-and-greet event and jewelry trunk show at the Coconut Waikiki Hotel.

Prior to the July 20 Hawaii RED magazine-sponsored branding master class taught by Hawaii-raised designer Bliss Lau and New York brand strategist Jasmine Takanikos, the pair appeared at a meet-and-greet session and trunk show for media and the fashion community at the Coconut Waikiki Hotel July 19.

It was my only opportunity to catch up with the two, because July 20 was a magnet for event planners and my calendar was full with three events to get to.

I'm sorry I missed their event at the Kahala, which aimed to bring to Honolulu a taste of the prestigious Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, where they jointly teach a course in accessory design and brand strategy, a one-two punch that would-be designers or retailers need to translate their ideas into products and communicate their ideas to consumers.

Of course, a visit from Bliss is always dangerous for me because I always have to have a few of her new pieces. She has such a strong aesthetic, and I always love a strong statement. This time around, I picked up a leather bra-vest, the same style she was wearing that day, which can dress up a simple tank top. Today, I'm wearing it with a black H&M fishtail dress. I thought of picking up one of her new fine jewelry body chains, but for now I'll continue to make do with her more industrial 2.0 version.

It's interesting to see how her designs evolve, which is part of her course at Parsons, where she was a design student and is now a professor. She said she employs the Socratic method of asking questions to arrive at answers as to how to continually refine work and better communicate her ideas.

I now have five of her pieces, and looking at her website,, there are many more on my wish list, but first I have to clear out my closet to see where I can make the best use of them.

A display of Bliss Lau's work and current fine jewelry pieces.


Guests were welcome to try on pieces, including the Chrysler bracelet, at right, $229, and its newer fine jewelry counterpart.


It took seeing the Bridge ring ($333), below, IRL to make sense of the stackable, buildable design when paired with the Split ring ($110), as modeled.bbridge


Bliss Lau's new leather bra-vest piece suited her dress so well Toby Portner and I both asked her if the dress had been made specifically to showcase the piece, but no, her body jewelry/accessories simply adapt to various clothing, adding interest and elevating the simplest tank top.

'Project Runway' billboard too sexy for L.A.

July 10th, 2013

Lifetime photo

In the land of plastic surgery and loose morals, a poster for the new season of "Project Runway," premiering July 18, has been banned.

Perhaps anxious to fight the tide of boredom that has seeped in over 11 seasons, the new billboard aims to wake up viewers with a rather risque image of show host Heidi Klum and designer mentor Tim Gunn holding court, 18th century Parisian style, over a number of nude models.

The image was deemed as too sexy for L.A. and banned, but will appear in the future with the models wearing underwear. The image will appear as is on billboards and posters in New York City.

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