Sunday, August 26, 2012

Made in Hawaii Festival

The Made in Hawaii Festival was on August 16-18 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Over 30,000 people attended the three day event to view over 400 vendors showing their products. It is also a good opportunity for stores to view new products. This the second year the Carol and I have done this show. It is a lot work to setup, work the days and breakdown the booth with only the two of us. Years of doing craft fairs and trade shows have forced us to develop better and better systems to become more efficient. Our booth had products from Ecolicious, which includes our tote bags, recycled bags and women's tees. Flying Koi men's tees. Doi & D'Angelo art cards, art prints and our new art magnets.
We did very well last year at MIH, but this year was even better. I think it is because we keep adding newer and better products. Some of the new items this year were:
1. A cool round bamboo handle wristlet zippered clutch made with recycled aloha wear.
2. A new tote bag body (our largest) with a collection of new prints. The first one is "Aloha", which features the word Aloha in pink rising out of a lush green background of tropical plants and creatures.
3. Art magnets, 27 designs individually printed and hand signed by the artist.
We saw of lot of new customers and new stores that were interested in carrying our line. We also saw a lot of returning customers that came back to buy more products from us and old stores that liked our new products. Comments range from pleasant to head scratching. When you're not showing products or (hopefully) selling products, some of the down time is filled with discussing new ideas. We have come up with some of our best ideas at these events. Other times the people watching is just amazing, the flood of humanity flowing by in every shape and size is treat for an artist's eye. After 30 hours spent in the booth, we have decided to make next year's MIH festival even bigger. So, it's back to the drawing board (literally).

Carol in our MIH booth

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The beginning of a journey

   In 2007, my wife Carol saw an article about a famous bag designer that produced a canvas bag for the public. It had rope handles and printed on it's side was the statement: "I am not a plastic bag!"
It was very clever, sort of like a Magritte painting. The canvas bag exclaims what it's not, that is not plastic. Stop using plastic bags. It was a sensation, people rushed to the stores and it sold out in hours. But, the designer didn't continue the line. It was just a one time event.
   What was needed was a company that made canvas bags that people would rush(?) out to buy to use in place of plastic bags. The seed idea was planted. Make attractive canvas bags and sell them for a reasonable price and people will buy them and stop using plastic bags. How to make them attractive? We've all seen people walking around with typical canvas bags with some company logo on it, that the person just received from a meeting or convention. In other words a promo gift. But, the people use them because it's a large canvas tote bag, ugly or not. What if the bag had beautiful art placed edge to edge on both sides of the bag. What if a zippered pocket was added for your purse and keys, and a magnetic snap to close the bag. What if it was made with heavy 12 oz. canvas, so that you could load the bag without fear of it breaking. This was the start of our classic canvas tote bags.
   The new company needed a name. It had to be catchy and memorable. It had to state our purpose. A list was made. Names were added and crossed out. Many words later, it got to point that I would talk to my wife as I was driving and just suggest names to get a reaction. I dropped Ecolicious on her (you know the combination of ecology and delicious) expecting her to laugh. She did, but it was a good kind of laugh. She said it was funny, but cute and easy to remember. She liked it. So, it is...Ecolicious® is born.