Seeking Beauty and the Best

Competing in a beauty pageant is all about personal growth, say Miss Hawaii USA organizers, and former title holders couldn’t agree more

Susan Sunderland
Friday - December 15, 2006
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clockwise from left, former Miss Hawaii USA winners Juliet Lighter, Radasha Ho‘ohuli, Nadine Tanega-Hogan, Trini Kaopuiki-Clark, Alicia Michioka-Jones, Jennifer Fairbank and Judi Andersen-Harrison
clockwise from left, former Miss Hawaii USA winners Juliet
Lighter, Radasha Ho‘ohuli, Nadine Tanega-Hogan, Trini
Kaopuiki-Clark, Alicia Michioka-Jones, Jennifer Fairbank
and Judi Andersen-Harrison

Eric Chandler likes to tell beauty title holders “It’s a silly crown. It’s a silly banner.”

Not that he demeans the significance of winning a beauty contest. It’s his way of putting it into perspective once someone is judged as the most beautiful person in the state.

Whether it’s Miss Hawaii USA, Miss Hawaii Teen USA or Miss Universe, Chandler says a title really is a path to self-discovery and a commitment to one’s community.

Takeo Kobayashi, co-producer of the Miss Hawaii USA and Miss Hawaii Teen USA pageants, agrees. As Chandler and Kobayashi embark on their 10th anniversary of directing regional pageants, they reflect on society’s definition of beauty and how it has evolved over the ages.


Takeo - known professionally by his first name - is an artist and designer. His company 2Couture, a partnership with Chandler, represents clients in Hawaii, on the Mainland and aboard. Takeo’s gowns grace actresses such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Elizabeth Lindsey and Kelly Hu, to our town’s social elite. Tokyo-born Takeo is considered one of the top fashion designers in the United States.

Chandler’s Hawaiian name, Kamakahia`ai, means “the eyes that see beauty.” Formerly from Washington state, he made Hawaii his home more than 20 years ago. He attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo and continued his education at Hawaii Pacific University. At 2Couture, he and Takeo successfully merge retail design projects with pageant production as directors of Miss Hawaii USA and Miss Hawaii Teen USA.

The Miss Hawaii USA contest is a preliminary to the Miss USA national competition, which leads to Miss Universe, the world cup of beauty. Business tycoon Donald Trump owns the Miss Universe system that consists of the Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

Pageant sponsors Eric Chandler and Takeo Kobayashi share a laugh
Pageant sponsors Eric Chandler and
Takeo Kobayashi share a laugh

“He’s our boss,” Chandler says. “We have a book that’s an inch-and-a-half thick of rules governing our management of the Hawaii program.”

Like The Donald, it’s all serious business and requires adherence to the highest standards of presentation and pageantry.

This year it culminates Sunday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Waikiki ballroom.

Fifteen Miss Hawaii USA and 15 Miss Hawaii Teen USA contestants will compete for the honor of representing our state in national pageants.


The evening is a glamorous showcase of fashion modeling, music, and staging of swimsuit, evening gown and interview segments. Chandler and Dr. Angela Pratt are hosts for the program. The Iwalani School of Dance and singer Jordan Segundo will entertain.

Also sharing the spotlight are reigning Miss Hawaii USA Radasha Ho’ohuli and Miss Hawaii Teen USA Hannah Thomas.

As if that isn’t enough beauty to grace

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