Hawaii! One of the most beautiful and tropical vacation spots in the world! It’s sunny and hot, and the prevailing clothing style is swimsuits and flip-flops. Outdoor activities – beaching, golf, tennis, scuba diving, sailing, wind sailing, and much more abound. Healthy dining, lots of fruit, fish, vegetables in beautiful restaurants by the sea. Would you ever think it was a place to sell Christmas ornaments? All year long? Convincing a gift shop buyer to actually purchase Christmas tree ornaments to be put out for sale in June, in the middle of a tourist mecca like Lahaina Hawaii for example, was a very very hard sell! We knew the ornaments would sell! We knew we could come up with adorable designs that would appeal to tourists and ornament collectors alike. And we were confident the stores would want more. But getting our foot in the door was quite a task!
Say Aloha to Custom Hawaiian Christmas Ornaments at Calliope
One of our best customers was with a store on Front Street in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii named David’s of Hawaii. Does anyone remember that store??? David Taylor was the owner, and a very unlikely person to purchase Christmas ornaments. He was a very talented gift shop owner and buyer of products for his successful store, but he just didn’t see the purpose of these little handmade Christmas ornaments. A friend of ours, Suzi, lived in Maui and worked for the store sewing the cutest Hawaiian “sun suits” and swim suits that were all the rage. They sold tee shirts and sweat shirts. The other things they sold in the store were little pipes for smoking illegal substances (I think you all know what I mean!). For some reason selling those items was not illegal in Maui. But the point is, it was really an unlikely spot to have a thriving Christmas ornament business.
Our friend Suzi had worked for us in California selling our ornaments at local crafts fairs, and she had seen how much everyone loved them and how fast they sold. She talked David into giving it a try, and because she already had great lettering skills, and experience selling the ornaments, she knew just what to do. She set up a big display inside a glass cabinet. The ornaments were made of “dough” then, and while they were coated with heavy coats of polyurethane for protection, Lahaina is a very very humid place. So the ornaments needed to be protected from the elements! She personalized a few examples and put them out, and customers started buying them like mad.
Lahaina is a big honeymoon spot, so the most popular styles were the ornaments that had to do with weddings. This store is where the term “Just Mauied” was invented, and it was on our ornaments! David’s of Hawaii became one of our biggest customers buying as many ornaments as the entire chain of Neiman Marcus stores – all 32 of them! We made special designs for his store – Santa on a Whale because whale watching is so popular in Maui. Santa under a Palm tree. Dolphin designs. Tropical bird designs. Santa sailing a sailboat, windsurfing, and scuba diving. It was really a fun venture. Luckily by this time, we had quite a few people helping us to make all of the ornaments they needed, and they often sent in orders each week.
David has retired now and has moved back to California. David’s of Hawaii no longer exists, but we still occasionally hear from a customer about their special Hawaiian souvenir that came from the little store in Lahaina, and from the company Calliope Designs.