Fashion Tribe

1+1+1 a winning formula

January 16th, 2015
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comFrom left, Hawai'i Tourism Japan's Mitsue Varley with Sascha Koki, in a Diamond Headdolphin T-shirt, and Clarence Lee Design president and art director Kuni Yamamoto.


From left, Hawai'i Tourism Japan's Mitsue Varley with Sascha Koki, in a Diamond Headdolphin T-shirt, and Clarence Lee Design president and art director Kuni Yamamoto.

Companies pay thousands of dollars for branding, marketing and creative help. It's one of the reasons the giants can wrangle a majority of the marketplace, leaving small businesses scrambling for scraps.

Something is wrong with this picture, and over at Clarence Lee Design, president and art director Kuni Yama­moto knew it. A member of Seiwajyuku — an international group of business owners, who follow the philosophy of Kyocera Corp. founder Kazuo Inamori in striving to do the right thing for people and the environment in their business practices — he was empowered to think his company could make a difference.

As a result of his desire to create a “win-win-win” situation, the 111-Hawaii Project was born, a collaboration between Clarence Lee Design and Hawai‘i Tourism Japan. 111-Hawaii stands for “1 Hand, 1 Home, 1 Heart” and had its launch Sunday at Aka­kura House, a footwear and made-in-Hawaii product boutique in Wai­kiki that now houses a small showroom for 111-Hawaii Project products. The products will be created by local businesses with a branding, packaging and marketing aboost from Clarence Lee Design specialists and their partners in media, public relations and retail.

Clarence Lee Vice President Laron Miya­shiro explained, “In our business we have a lot of big clients, but we also have a lot of small-business clients who are just starting out. A lot of them have good made-in-Hawaii products, but they don’t get the attention they need to grow and succeed. The thinking behind the project is that, as a design company, we could donate our services to help them with their branding and design.”

It is quite a gift for small businesses, and those interested in becoming a part of the project may apply online.

Naomi Matsuo was serving Ueshima Coffee, or UCC Hawaii Corp.'s Ice Coffee, the first product launch from the 111-Hawaii Project.

New packaging by Clarence Lee Design was designed to help the UCC Coffee stand apart from the competition.

Keiki show the Diamond Headdog and Diamond Headolphin designs that will mark all 111-Hawaii Project products.

A portion of proceeds from Project sales will benefit nonprofits focused on environment, culture and the arts. Beneficiaries will change annually. This year it’s Na Kama Kai (“Children of the Sea”), a nonprofit supporting ocean safety and conservation programs.


Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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