What’s new!

The Spring New Products Show this weekend promises to offer plenty of totally new products, including real-looking faux flowers from a legendary Island songstress. Legendary songstress Karen Keawehawaii just loves flowers.When she takes to the stage, you are sure to see a veritable garden of blossoms tucked into the legendary singer’s hair. And it was this love of flowers that led Keawehawaii

Friday - April 25, 2008
By Alice Keesing
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Old friends Karen Keawehawaii
Old friends Karen Keawehawaii (left) and Cha Thompson with some of Karen’s flowers

Legendary songstress Karen Keawehawaii just loves flowers.When she takes to the stage, you are sure to see a veritable garden of blossoms tucked into the legendary singer’s hair. And it was this love of flowers that led Keawehawaii down the path to a second career - that of flower maker.

When Keawehawaii isn’t using that famous voice, she’s happy at home surrounded by all the accoutrements of her faux-flower trade, crafting hair combs from sunset-colored plumeria or hat picks of exotic orchids or sprays of pure-white gardenia.

Keawehawaii’s crafting began out of her need to support her flower-wearing habit. A few years ago she was shopping and found some beautiful faux plumeria hair combs. But she got a bad case of sticker shock when she went to pay and recalls - with a guilty whisper - how she apologized and put them back on the shelf.

Trouble was, Keawehawaii really wanted those hair combs, so she set out to make them herself - at a price she could afford. Husband Jackie Farias jumped in to help and searched everywhere from Thailand to China to the Philippines to find the materials they needed.

These days, Keawehawaii has flowers of every color,size and shape safely stored in their individual boxes, ready for when she wants to bedeck herself for a performance or event. She and her husband also sell their flowers on her website (www.lookslikerealflowers.com) and have started taking them to the shows.

This weekend, Keawehawaii joins scores of others showing their wares at the 33rd annual Spring New Products Show at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. The show is the place to find locally made products and gadgets created by the state’s small businesses.

It’s the ingenuity of people like Keawehawaii that makes the show such a great venue, says Cha Thompson, one of the principals at Tihati Productions, which took over management of the show last year.

“There are more than 200 companies there,and it’s just such a variety that it’s exciting,” Thompson says.

A scene from last year's well-attended show
A scene from last year’s well-attended show

This year there is everything from lychee-infused vodka to nail art kits to a burn treatment created by a keiki o ka aina living in Florida.You can also learn about the city’s new multi-material recycling bins, visit the International Plant Exhibit or bring along a sample of your garden soil to discuss with the plant doctor.

“We are really into the newness of the show - keeping it fresh and new,“says Pacific Expos marketing director Yemun Chung. “People have said it used to be same-same, but we’ve been very selective, making sure returnees have brand-new products to show.”

Tihati Productions, which produces many of the luau shows in town, also has infused its entertainment expertise into the event. Every hour there will be prize giveaways ranging from a $100,000 Extreme Home Interior Makeover from ABC Design Center to round-trip tickets to Vegas with Vacations Hawaii to tires from Lex Brodie’s.

And if all the shopping and browsing make you hungry,you can stop by Taste of the Pacific and find some of Hawaii’s best melting-pot food from favorites like Tanioka’s, No Ka Oi Crepes and Marian’s Catering.

And Keawehawaii will be there, too, with her hair accessories and special arrangements for Mother’s Day. She loves to spend time with those who visit her stall, showing them how to wear the flowers in their hair.

Flower lover that she is, Keawehawaii will tell you that nothing can beat a real flower. But when they aren’t available, a flower lover doesn’t have to go without - and, as her business name says, they can look like real flowers.

“One person told me,‘Oh, how beautiful your flowers smell!‘It’s that power of suggestion,“she says with her joyful giggle.“The best gift I can have is seeing the ladies’ faces light up when they put one on. Being on stage, I get a high when people react to what I’m doing, whether it be laughter or tears - and I get high on my garden of flowers, too.”

Visit the 33rd annual Spring New Products Show at Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall April 25 from 5 to 9 p.m., April 26 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and April 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $5; seniors, military with identification and children ages 7 to 12 years are $4; free for children under age 7 accompanied by a paying adult.


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