A Company That’s Soft On Slippers

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - April 19, 2006
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Laleen Ramsical cuddles up with her colorful slipper pillows
Laleen Ramiscal cuddles up with her colorful slipper

Laleen Ramiscal says her slipper-shaped pillows make people smile. When she’s at craft fairs, she watches people from afar stretching their necks to get a glimpse at her handiwork. Her company, Kolohe Keikis, creates Hawaii’s beloved footwear in about 20 different fabrics.

“Everyone knows what a slipper is, there’s no need to explain it,” she says. “When men see it, they are thinking how can they use it, and when women see it they comment on how cute it is.”

This slipper is not to be worn on your feet to walk around in, the Sacred Hearts grad notes. It can be used as a pillow to sleep on in the car, or on an airplane.

Her slippers can be found at stores in The Gift Shop near gate 14 at the Honolulu International Airport, and in the UH Book and Logo Store, which carries pillows made with UH logo fabric. Ramiscal hopes to someday have her slippers in all the college logo fabrics.

One of Ramiscal’s favorite places to find customers is in San Francisco at the Presidio craft fair held in August for the Aloha Festivals. This year will be her sixth providing Bay Area residents a slice of life in Hawaii.

“People are so hungry for Hawaiian items,” she says.

For her, the slipper is universal since people all over the world know what a slipper is. She and her husband, George, came up with the idea six years ago when one of her friends started make Spam musubi pillows. She likes to use quality fabrics for her trademarked designs, which are machine washable - just it toss it into a T-shirt, and put it through a regular wash cycle and pop it into the dryer.

Kolohe Keikis started out 15 years ago as baby quilts, which have eventually ended up in places like Russia, England, Alaska and Australia. She also makes two-sided holiday table runners - one side to use for Thanksgiving, the other side for Christmas. Most of her items are in bright, happy colors that children like.

The company’s name means “rascal kids” in Hawaiian, and she started it so she could pay for her three children’s tuition at Maryknoll. It’s been a family business for the most part, as her husband and sons Brent, 27, and Gavin, 23, take care of setting up and taking down booths, and her daughter, Bryanne, 16, helps stuff the pillows.

“What started out as a hobby turned into a business, and it’s a family affair.”

For more information, call 382-6934 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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