My students' view
When you live in Japan and you teach for a living then around one-third of your students will have visited Hawaii at least once in their lifetime.
One day one of my dear friends here in Japan announced that she was going to get married, that she was going to have the wedding in Hawaii, and that I was invited. I was blown away! Not because of the idea of going to Hawaii, as you might think, but because I was so moved that although she was going to celebrate her wedding in a small circle of friends and family she wanted me to be there on her big day. I was excited for her.
Until then I had never been to Hawaii before. I had created a picture of the island mostly on what my students had told me. The more I heard, the more I started to doubt that I would like the island.
You see, when Japanese people travel, they usually focus on food and shopping. Hence, their travel guide books and magazines are colorful pictures of shopping paradises, brand fashion goods, perfect souvenir products, recommended restaurants and cafes, and fun activities in groups.
Since Japanese have very short vacations, it makes sense why they want everything stereotypical known about a country crammed in one book and one vacation. I totally get that.
I just didn't think I'm cut out for that type of vacation. I like it more authentic and in my mind I was convinced that Hawaii was this Disney World-like place that's hiding it's real face.
THAT image changed completely
On my way to my friend's wedding, after landing in Hawaii, dealing with cheerful customs officials (Yes, you read that right!), and organizing a taxi to our hotel, my mind was ready to absorb the island.
THAT is when I saw my first Hawaiian palm tree. THAT is when I fell not only in love with Hawaii but also with palm trees!
Somehow they generate a feeling of happiness, of “I’m home!”, of freedom and “I can do anything I set my mind to” within me.
At that moment I couldn’t have known that this first encounter was the beginning of a great friendship between tropical leaves and me.
At some point I was excited like someone who gets out of work early literally EVERY TIME I saw a shirt or shoes, or cushion with palm or banana leaf print on it.
Now, I’m much pickier and adulty about the quality and design of prints. Not everything sifts through my criteria net.
The online shop idea
For the last three years this strong connection to palm and banana leaf products has become “a thing” in my life to such a degree that I have made up my mind to create an online shop that offers selected products with that special print, so that anyone who purchases something from my shop, purchases a piece of happiness for their home, their wardrobe, their friends, or their loved ones.
I’m convinced that the right print can be a timeless piece that makes you feel good whenever you wear it or look at it without ever getting tired of it.
And just to add some kitsch and “No, you did not!!!” to the whole Hawaii story … In 2014 my husband and I got married in Oahu … Under palm trees.