HONOLULU (KHON2) — Merrie Monarch’s cancelation due to the pandemic was a big blow for the community, especially for local and small businesses that rely on craft fairs as a big means of income and sales for their business.
KHON2 went to Ala Moana Center, where a pop-up will open on Friday, June 24, to meet with a few of these local business and talk story with them.
One of them is Micah Kamohoali’i, of Dezigns by Kamohoali’i. KHON2 asked how many times he has been part of the craft fair at Merrie Monarch.
“I’ve been there for 17 years,” said Kamohoali’i.
How much was business impacted since Merrie Monarch in 2020 was canceled and how have things evolved over the two years?
“That’s where our small businesses make the most revenue,” says Kamohoali’i. “So, all the Hawaiians are in town in Hilo. I’m from Hawai’i Island and we get chance to get everybody from the outer islands and to get them to wear our clothes. So, big blow when they cancelled last year and again this year. But we brought it to O’ahu.”
Kamohoali’i is going to be at Ala Moana Center and spoke about what will be featured.
“This is the “Hawaii Fashion Showcase, A Tribute to Merrie Monarch,” says Kamohoali’i. “It’s featuring three designers: Wahine Toa, LOTUS and Lime, and myself, Dezigns by Kamohoali’i. We hope to see all the locals and all the Hawaiians and be able to clothe all of them with our beautiful clothes.”
KHON2 also met with Kim Ryusaki-Marrero, who is the owner of LOTUS and Lime.
Kim was in Merrie Monarch one year.
“Well, I’ve been there before as a haumana (student) a few times and you cannot compare to that kind of experience no matter where you are,” says Ryusaki-Marrero. “And as designers, it’s the same thing. We all share the community of designers and our talents and our mana’o (thoughts) and we want to share that with people as well. You cannot get that kind of exposure or experience any other place.”
How was the challenge of having to evolve over these couple of years without the Merrie Monarch craft fair?
“It was really, really difficult,” says Ryusaki-Marrero. “All of a sudden, it just stopped. There was nothing. For us, this is what we make a living doing and it was devastating. It really was. And you’re left with all this inventory. We had no idea. Everyone prepared for Merrie Monarch. We work months and months in advanced. And it was just nonexistent and difficult.”
The third artist included in this is Wahine Toa Designs and all of their beautiful attire and items can be seen at the Ala Moana Center.
The pop-ups can be found on the second floor on the Macy’s wing, right next to the Apple Store.
For more information, click here.
For more on Dezigns by Kamohoali’i, click here.
For moe on LOTUS and Lime, click here.
For more on Wahine Toa Designs, click here.