A Store To Fit A Healthy Lifestyle

Jo McGarry
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Friday - January 19, 2007
| Del.icio.us | podcast Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com

Debbie Yamaguchi
Debbie Yamaguchi

When the owners of Umeke Market decided to expand their increasingly popular range of organic and health-related products, they turned to co-owner Debbie Yamaguchi to take the lead.

“I always wanted to include in the lifestyle store the kinds of things that I like to shop for,” says Yamaguchi of the recently opened Umeke Lifestyle. “And while I love food and love to bake, I have a lot of interest in clothing and other products.”

So she began sourcing products for the store that reflected her own vibrant, positive approach, and she’s been amazed by the response.

“It’s incredible, really,” she says with a smile. “I thought I was putting together a range of things that I liked - I had no idea, really, that so many people would feel the same way.”

The response from customers varies from enthusiastic and positive comments to suggestions for new product lines.

“Every day someone will ask if we can bring in a certain item, or they’ll suggest a brand or a product that we don’t yet have,” she says. “Rugs, for example. Who would have thought of organic rugs? Or leotards? Some of my customers requested leotards made from organic cotton - and I thought to myself, ‘wow these people really know what they want!’”

Yamaguchi is grateful for the suggestions, and at the same time she’s incredibly impressed with her customers.

“Our customers really have great ideas about what they want to have as part of their lifestyle,” she says, “and hopefully we’re able to cater to their needs.”

Umeke Lifestyle is just a few steps beyond Umeke’s highly successful market and deli, and it stocks a range of lifestyle products including clothing, bath and makeup supplies, stationery and even an attractive range of cotton wallets made from recycled sheets.

“One area we really needed to address was the skin-care range,” says Yamaguchi. “When you think about it, what you put into your body and what you put on your body are equally important.”

So Umeke now carries a range of mineral powders, bio-dynamic makeup, and skin-care ranges that includes the fabulous Dr.

Hauschka brand from Germany.

There’s also a selection of toddler toys and accessories from Under The Nile, a company specializing in 100 percent organic baby clothes and toys.

“People don’t really think about it too much,” says Yamaguchi, “but cotton is a highly treated crop, and the pesticides that linger in the cotton are present in clothing too.” And there are metals in dyes that color clothes. “When you think about what children put into their mouths, there are a lot of parents concerned about those aspects of a healthy lifestyle too.”

And comparatively, prices aren’t outrageously higher than non-organic goods. “Our most expensive organic cotton top is around $60 and we’ve jackets for $40,” she says of the incomparably soft fabrics.

And for those whose sense of fashion is as important as their health, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Debbie is on the search for organic clothing that actually looks good.

“Oh, so many of those natural fashions just look so terrible,” she says, laughing. “I don’t want our customers to look like they’re wearing a burlap bag - we’re looking for clothing that is stylish, hip and part of a healthier lifestyle.”

Umeke Lifestyle At Umeke Market 4400 Kalanianaole Highway (near Kahala Mall, next to Petland)

Phone: 739-2990

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