A dozen Maui County-made product vendors will soon depart for Japan to test their products at the 6th annual Hankyu Hawaiʻi Fair from Wednesday, July 10, to Tuesday, July 16, in Umeda, Osaka.
The event, which is the largest out-of-state Hawaiʻi fair, attracts more than 250,000 Japanese consumers every year and sells food, apparel, gifts and jewelry items all made in the islands. Held in the 15-story Hankyu Umeda Department Store, the venue carries quality merchandise and is regarded as one of the higher-end department stores in the entire country.
The 12 vendors from Maui County invited to this year’s fair are:
- Sassy Saks – Debbie Jokovich from Kīhei
- Matsumoto Studio – Jen and Jes Matsumoto from Wailuku
- ALL I SEE IS ART – Leah Santos from Makawao
- Sui Keala Jewlry – Edwina “Sui” Walker from Hāna
- Sabado Studio – Phil Sabado from Wailuku
- Wings Hawaiʻi – Samantha Howard and Melody Torres from Pāʻia
- Maui Mari – Mari Diller from Haʻikū
- Kanemitsu Bakery – George Kanemitsu from Molokaʻi
- The Maui Cookie Lady – Mitzi Toro from Makawao
- A Maui Day Original Handbags – Severina Lopez from Makawao
- Paradise Now – Jaclynn Sabado-Eitel and James Eitel from Wailuku
- Maui Preserved – Anthony LaBua-Keiser from Haʻikū
Nine of Maui County’s 12 vendors will be testing their products in Japan for the first time at the event, which is located in the country’s second largest metropolitan area behind Tokyo.
Osaka serves as the economic powerhouse of the Kansai Region and could introduce new opportunities and a new market for the companies from Maui and Molokaʻi. Advertising of the event via newspaper, website, radio and blogs are expected to reach over 1.5 million customers in the area.
Tokie Ogawa, business development specialist at the Office of Economic Development, will help oversee and assist local vendors before and during the fair. She also will help new participants understand the flow of customers, learn the Japanese consumer’s buying patterns and build relationships with Hankyu Department Store buyers.
The Hankyu Hawaiʻi Fair is organized by the Hankyu Umeda Department Store, with support from the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) through its Hawaiʻi State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP). This program provides training seminars, direct financial assistance and organizes Hawaiʻi Pavilions at Mainland and overseas venues. Every year DBEDT introduces several Hawaii companies for consideration for the Hankyu Hawaii Fair. In total, more than 80 brands from Hawaiʻi will be highlighted this year.
Last year, DBEDT introduced Yuri Sawada, project manager for the Hankyu Hawaiʻi Fair, to the Made in Maui County Festival where she was impressed with several local companies. OED has been working with DBEDT for the past four years on inviting international wholesalers to the festival and Sawada’s visit helped pave the way for Maui County vendors to attend the fair in Japan.
For more information on the Made in Maui County Festival, visit http://madeinmauicountyfestival.com/ .
For more information on HiSTEP, visit https://invest.hawaii.gov/exporting/histep/