Plastic-free Shopping Is In The Bag

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - January 06, 2010
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Fran Hewes (right) and (from left) granddaughters Ellen and Cera Hewes and daughter Selina Fernandez

A home economics teacher at her alma mater Kailua Intermediate, Fran Hewes always shares one lesson she learned the hard way: Don’t sew your own finger!

She practices what she preaches when creating soft, colorful cotton bags for her company, Alohaina Bags.

“The bags sure can hold a lot of stuff in them,” she says. “My sister used three bags to bring home about $400 worth of groceries. These are good beach bags, grocery bags and book bags.”

The washable-reusable bags are 16 inches high, 16 inches long and 5 inches wide. There are nine prints available, one of which, for example, is a floral pattern with color-coordinated striped lining.

“Each bag uses good thread and good fabric,” adds the Salt Lake resident. “And the stitching is reinforced so it won’t fall apart.”

Hewes says the company name expresses her love and respect for the land.

“It is sad to see the pictures of plastic all over the beach,” she explains. “So I’m doing my part, and I hope it helps in some small way.”

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the bags goes to Ahahui Malama I Ka Lokahi, which is active in conservation efforts.

Hewes has been sewing since she was 12 years old.

“My mom taught me to sew, since I was too tall and nothing in the store fit me,” says the 6-foot Hewes.

One of her ideas of happiness, she says, would be to have a fabric store of her own.

The Kailua High grad has 21 years of teaching experience in home economics, with past jobs at Lanai High and Elementary School, and Castle High School.

She started her company in 2007 because the reusable bags she got from stores were falling apart.

“I made my own reusable bag,” recalls the fun-loving Hewes. “Then my sister wanted one, and my mom wanted one, and my other sister wanted one.”

She credits her customers, friends and family, especially husband Jimmy, and adult children Selina, Casey and Cheryl for their encouragement, and acknowledges her family members for their input and assistance with various tasks, such as picking out fabrics.

One of the challenges of running her company, Hewes says, is getting people to visit her Web site, where they can place an order.

“My son is getting his master’s in business, and he is going to help me with the Web site,” she says.

Web orders have come from as far away as Canada.

She also offers gift-wrapping and a gift card with a personal message.

For more information, call 366-1940 or log onto

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