When James and I were in Hawaii last week, we used the soap samples and toured the (100% green) soap factory and coffee/cacao farm in Kona before I decided to bring the product into the store. Well, I've been using it and besides the smell being divine, it lathers well and is 100% natural! I love that. The soap makes great little gifts and can be used on the face as well as the body. I'm hooked.
About the soap: There are no artificial ingredients or colors used in any of the soap formulas. The basic oil ingredients include olive oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil. Hawaiian kukui nut oil is also added due to its healing and health benefits. The formulas also include natural rain water captured and filtered at the factory. The colors in each bar of soap are natural and are formed by either natural herbs, by an exfoliant, or an essential oil. The essential oils used are of aromatherapy grade.
Some of the exfoliant soaps include cacao which is the actual name of the plant that produces chocolate. The cacao contained in the soap formulas is part of the actual roasted bean and not the processed chocolate associated with a chocolate bar. There is a very faint chocolate scent from the cacao ingredient but the cacao soaps do not have a chocolate bar scent. Even the cacao is grown at the soap facility in Hawaii and used it in the soap products. Interestingly, Hawaii is the only state in the United States that grows and produces chocolate.
If you don't know anything about me at all, you have to know that I will not lie to you. I won't cross my fingers behind my back and tell you "Oh my goodness, that black jacket looks sooooo good on you," when in actuality, the black jacket makes you look washed out or doesn't fit just right. It's not a good way for me to get repeat business or referrals. Plus, lying is for losers. Likewise, I won't cross my fingers behind my back and tell you that something doesn't look good on you when you look like a million bucks. And that, my dear customers, is what I see happen in the store from time to time. Like yesterday, for instance.
A friendly petite little woman came into the store with 2 of her co-workers raving about one of the jackets in the window that I brought back from Paris. Before she tried it on, she said "If it fits and looks good, then it's mine." Soooo, she tried it on...and it fit...and it looked adorable. (Remember, I wouldn't lie to you.) Before she even had a chance to look at herself in the mirror, one of her co-workers told her a littany of things: "It doesn't look right. You don't look good in that jacket. I don't really like that on you. There's something I don't like about it, but I don't know what it is. You need bigger boobs." Deep sigh. Is that what a friend does? I asked the woman trying on the jacket if she liked it, but after being brow-beaten, she said she wasn't sure. I don't like when that happens. And not because I want a sale either, but because first and foremost, it isn't nice. How about letting your co-worker look at herself in the mirror first and then give her your point of view without being rude? Dang. I'm not saying The Co-Worker/Friend (with a question mark) had to actually like the jacket because I did, but it seemed to me like she was just being a hater. I've seen it before and I'm sure I'll see it again and maybe I'm just overreacting. All I know is that it sure did rub me the wrong way. And that's no lie.
One of my favorite customers - Bridget - came into the store yesterday to pick up her layaway and to get one of the bling belts I brought back from LA. Bridget has her own funky chic style and always looks nice every time I see her and yesterday was no exception. Although she was relatively casual, she was rocking a black fur vest and quickly threw on the black bling belt with her jeans to add the exclamation point to her outfit. She was on her way to a dinner date and I can only imagine how he must have looked at her when they met up because she looked Fierce (with a capital F).
Before she left, Bridget and I were chatting about some of the reactions she's been getting when she wears her oo la la! gear as she's out and about. Most notable was a recent interaction with a woman at a Gavin Newsom soiree in San Francisco where Bridget broke out and wore The Coat. You know about The Coat, right? The Coat that I brought back from Paris that had everyone stopping DEAD in their tracks as they walked by the store window. The Coat that only 6 people in the Bay Area own because I only brought 6 of them back from Paris. The Coat that I should've kept for myself and didn't. That beautifully embroidered uniquely designed makeyouslapyourmama (doggone) Coat. That coat.
So the woman at the soiree in the City asked Bridget point blank about The Coat as she oohed and aahed and pet it like a house cat and circled Bridget like a hawk. The rest of the women at the party eyeballed her, but didn't say a thing, a sure sign that she looked fantastic. Of course, Bridget was all too happy to tell SF Soiree Lady where The Coat came from (oo la la! via gay Pah-ree) particularly since SF Soiree Lady can't get one of her own. You know my credo: I only buy a few of any one item so you don't see yourself coming and going.
I share these stories with you because not only do I love relaying a cute story, but hearing you all tell me about the reactions you get when you rock your oo la la! actually makes my day and validates what I'm doing. I buy what I love and I love what I buy and it tickles me pink when you love it too. Thanks again for making what I do worthwhile. It's awesome!
The thought of a hungry child freaks me out. Bring in a warm smile and three cans of food and you will receive 10% off all merchandise (excluding layaways) between now and 12/31/09! All proceeds will go to the Alameda County Community Foodbank. (Don't forget the smile.)
Frantically waving hello to everyone! I'm back on the mainland; back to reality and it isn't so bad at all!
I spent the day yesterday putting out all of the little trinkets I got from Hawaii (handmade natural soap and 100% pure kukui oil) and from LA (jewelry, belts, scarves, leather handbags, etc.). You know, it's really just as much fun for me as it is for you! I went to bed (and woke up) thinking about the new cute stuff. (Is that weird?)
Ooooo, and I can't wait to see My Best(est) Friend (the UPS guy) this week. It always feels like Christmaswhen he shows up because I don't remember what I ordered earlier in the year until it arrives. Lots of other goodies will continue to roll in and I can't wait! (Dancing around in circles.)
As you might know, I started this blog at the urging of my mom because I was sending out all of those silly little emails to all of you while James and I were in France. And although I promise to keep you abreast of any highlights while I'm out shopping, I managed to snag a little gig as an International Travel Writer on a news blog, so I will reserve my travel rants for that space. It doesn't make sense for me to write about my first ever dolpin encounter (OMG, it was fab!) while I was in Hawaii on a blog dedicated to fashion unless the dolphin was wearing a really cute skirt or knockout pair of earrings, right?
I also want to thank you for shopping at oo la la! I know you have other places where you shop (what?!) and I simply appreciate the fact that I'm on your list. Small businesses like mine rely on the local community to keep us strong, and I appreciate you very much. See ya soooooon! Smoooooches.
I've been to Oahu and Maui, but I've never been to The Big Island before now. It's quite unusual in that some parts of the island are tropical (I was at a waterfall today and it was like a rainforest); some parts of it look like the desert; and some parts look like the moon (not that I've been there or anything). The "moon look" is because the entire island is made up of black lava rock that is millions of years old. This is wicked cool.
Here are some highlights from the trip so far:
1. I found some handmade Hawaiian soap made here in Kona and tracked down the guy that makes it. You won't believe this, but he's been living here for 5 years and when I asked him where he came from, he told me Montclair! LOL. Anyway, in 2003 he started coming back and forth between the Bay Area and Kona and would plant a cacoa tree everytime he came. Now he has a farm and makes 100% Kona coffee, handmade soap and kukui oil. James and I are going to tour his farm tomorrow...and yes, I'm going to be bringing back some soap for the store. I will probably take orders for the coffee and the kukui oil (the most amazing non-greasy Hawaiian oil for dry skin conditions like eczema, etc.) and will report here on the blog after the tour.
2. The lizards here are so green (see above) that I thought they were rubber when I first saw them. Then one ran across my foot.
3. I found dragonfruit (below) and starfruit (left) and am waiting for the starfruit to ripen. It smells like perfume.
4. I signed up for a dolphin encounter for Thursday, our last day here. Ooooo, I'm soooo excited!
5. We went to Akaka State Park today to see the waterfalls. Because we were on another side of the island, it rained all day, but it was still humid. It's strange to perspire while it's raining. I took some video of the waterfalls. We'll see how it came out; I'm a novice.
6. I'm bummed that no one serves authentic Hawaiian food other than when you're at a luau.
7. I went inside a little boutique yesterday and saw a dress I sell in my store for $79 and they were selling it for $240. This is why I get frustrated when someone comes in the store and wants to haggle about prices. I can't believe people are marking stuff up that high. I take that back. I see it all of the time...
8. James and I went to the Hilton Waikaloa yesterday and saw some of the most beautiful artwork at this stunning resort. One such piece was a life size bronze of some warriors in an ancient carriage (see below). Absolutely amazing.
9. If you didn't know this about me, I have an obsession with and collect Brown mermaids (they aren't easy to find). When I was a mere babe, I wanted to be a mermaid. I still do sometimes. (See below.)
10. Is it silly to comment on the beautiful sunsets?
11. I'm wearing flip flops and shorts right now. (Don't be mad.) I'm 10000% clear that I won't be wearing them when I get back to the Bay.
Thanks for listening...and I'll chat with you soon!
Of course you've heard of Black Friday, that crazy shopping day that occurs the day after Thanksgiving where people get lined up at the crack of dawn to trample one another for the [alleged] latest, greatest and cheapest holiday gifts. Well, if you don't want to be trampled and you want to support Oakland's independent businesses, check out some of Oakland's finest indie shopping spots (including oo la la!) on Plaid Friday! Sponsored by East Bay Express and Yelp!, this is a great way to show support for the local economy while getting your plaid on. See ya then!
Are you a brand snob? I'm not. Don't get me wrong. I have some foo-foo la-la stuff in my closet and in the store, but I choose quality and style over popular brands and inflated price tags any day of the week. Especially for the store. Which of course leads me to my little story. LOL.
I have had a dozen or so women over the past couple of years walk into the store, pick up something they like, and ask me "Who is this by?" Sigh. "It's not by a mainstream designer," I always say. "But you can bet that it's a quality piece and you won't find it in Macy's," I usually finish up with a smile. (I always smile.) And then one of two things happens: She either leaves with her nose up in the air (on her way to Macy's?) or she eyeballs the item for a second time and buys it. These are The Brand Snobs, and you gotta love 'em.
I also have a Brand Snob customer (who will remain nameless) that stops by from time to time and tosses around lightweight insults. "You know, I have a St. John knit and that [pointing at something in the store] is a decent imitation." or "I would never really buy any of these throw-aways, but they sure are cute." Did she just call my inventory throw-aways? LOL. Wow. In fact, when I got back from Paris, she didn't say anything at all about the inventory that you all bought up so quickly. Hmmm. I wonder what that was about? Sometimes I wonder why she even comes into the store, but I think she likes to chat. Oh yeah, and she just spent $300 on some of my throw-aways. Go figure.
(Above) Lovely performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Terminal on our way to The Big Island.
There's a 2 hour time difference here in Hawaii (we're on The Big Island), so I am wide awake and it is only 6:30am. I am not an early riser, so it's pretty funny to be up (and typing no less). But I must say that the color of the sky during sunrise is beautiful. I wish I were a painter at this precise moment.
The flight from San Francisco to Honolulu was turbulent. In fact, the pilot from American Airlines came on the speaker during the flight to explain to us why he just made a left turn (something about the wind) and to let us know that this was the windiest it had been in awhile. Since I went to bed so late, I was tired and therefore in and out of sleep, so I didn't really tune in too much; in fact, it was the turbulence that rocked me back and forth like my very own bassinet.
The little girl sitting next to her Dad in the seat in front of James and I was absolutely delighted by the turbulence and jumped up and down with excitement just like she was on Mr. Toad's Wildride at Disneyland. It made me aware of the fact that turbulence (in the sky or in our lives) is really what you make it. You can either be deathly afraid or you can ride the ride with joy. Like that darling little girl, I pick joy.
It has been difficult for me to find quality leggings that fit bigger than a size 8, but I did it! (There is no such thing as One Size Fits All. Who made that up anyway?) Nevertheless, I now have the black leather-look leggings up to a size 18 as well as some slinky black leggings. They are a great fit and look great as a layering piece under tunics and dresses, or if you're Super Bad (and slim), you can wear them as pants. The leg(ging)s have it!
LOL. I adore old movies. The women always wore the most beautifully put together outfits. They looked like a million dollars even especially when they were lounging around the house. In the spirit of How Old Becomes New Again (because all fashion ultimately recycles into its newest skin), take a gander at the delightfully whimsical (and sexy) veil J Lo is wearing as she channels Marlena Dietrich. Isn't that hot? (I'm not mad at her for pouting either! It just adds to the moment. LOL.)
Veiled cocktail hats and headbands are a great accessory whether you're going to a holiday party, to church, taking photos or just...I don't know...lounging around the house. Just don't get too agitated when the haters eyeball you and then don't say One Single Word. That's your clue that you look absolutely fab. Repeat after me: Don't hate; just get your own veil. Hahahaha.
Oh. And don't forget the multi-strand pearls. They make any outfit say "Pow!" I just got them in the store a moment ago and they come in Pearl tone (shown below), hematite (grey) tone, brown (caramel) tone, and black (shown below). They're to die for!