Taking A Double Shot At Success

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - October 28, 2009
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Vinny, Miya and Yuka Thieu at Fun Pix Hawaii, where you can get your nails done, too

Vinny and Yuka Thieu love what they do at Fun Pix Hawaii, their Japanese photo sticker shop and nail salon.

The husband-and-wife team are manicurists, as they worked in a nail salon before they opened this business combination in July. The nail salon part of the business includes decorative embellishments - flowers, fruit, even a line of sea creatures such as turtles and fish. They emphasize their use of a product called Calgel, a nail gel system.

“Some women’s nails grow to a certain point then they break because they are brittle,” Vinny explains. “We use Calgel, and that makes the nails stronger.”

On the photo side of the business, the Thieus are happy to show customers how the five photo booths work, if they need any help.

“After people try it the first time, then they get a better idea of how to do it,” the couple reveals. “We try to explain it to them first but they don’t always listen.”

The photo booths, which were introduced in 1995 in Japan, are called purikura, which is short for print club - purinto kurabu.


The photo session can be done with just one person, and some booths can fit 10 people comfortably - a group of 14 people even managed to fit into one. As upbeat music plays, people inside the photo booths can have fun striking several poses, and there are some props available such as wigs and sunglasses. Clients select the best pictures, and they have a time limit to decorate the photos using colorful digital stickers such as hearts, stars, flowers, animals, cartoons and various other options. (The text is in Japanese, which they hope to translate into English in the future.) A 4-by-6 sheet then comes out of the machine with photo stickers of various sizes on it. Then people cut out the picture and give it to friends.

The 735-square-foot shop has its own photo board, so patrons can post their pictures if they desire. Yuka Thieu, who grew up two hours north of Tokyo in Sendai, has an album full of photo stickers she’s collected since she was 15 years old.

“These are my memories of me and my friends,” she says. “I’ve got my friends of friends in here, too. People take pictures to remember their friendships. They do it for their birthdays, a farewell party, Halloween and Christmas. Valentine’s Day is also pretty big.”

Customers in the shop sometimes like to take pictures with the couple’s 16-month-old daughter Miya.

To spread the word about the shop, they distribute fliers, and they acknowledge the support of all their friends, family and customers for helping them get the message out about their endeavor through word of mouth - and, of course, pictures are worth a thousand words.

Fun Pix Hawaii is located on the ground floor of the Century Center at 1750 Kalakaua Ave. Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 949-9091 or log on to www.funpixhawaii.com.

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