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Entrepreleader: Rumi Murakami

Designer Rumi Murakami, long time BoxJelly resident Atelier, is creating clothing that merges high quality, timeless design with functionality and comfort. Taking inspiration from Hawaii’s tropical climate and growing urban environment, Rumi keeps her designs clean and cool. She aims to create clothing that is wearable without sacrificing style. She and Matt Bruening recently teamed up for a runway show at the Hawaii State Art Museum where their collections were turning a lot of heads. This week, she’ll be launching her online store. We had a chance to sit down with Rumi to talk about the show and her design practice.


You had show at the HiSAM in November 2018. Could you tell me about what inspired the work?

Rumi: The name of the show collection is Paper. Matt Bruening approached me about doing the show. Aly Ishikuni, co-founder of Art+Flea and Mori, got approval from the museum and we held it there. For this collection, I tried to think about using the fabric like paper, so I tried to stay really like angular, square and simple. Nothing too literal. I like things that have a little more subtle message.

In addition to that theme, I want clothing and fashion to be accessible to everyone and I think the museum during First Friday was a good venue to show the people that fashion is a viable business in Hawaii and that it doesnʻt need to be about aloha wear or ocean culture.




What is your workflow and how do you project manage?

R: I’m much better if I have a deadline otherwise I can drag the process. I think with a lot of creative processes, it’s hard to tell when you’re done. Typically for fashion when you’re dealing with a collection, you have your theme and your fabrics.  I enjoy the process of being limited to the fabrics. By that I mean picking out fabrics and trying to stay within the theme and again, try not be too literal with the theme either.

In the end, people have to wear these clothes so they have to make sense This is where I feel like art and design kind of go their separate ways. I don’t consider what I do art really. It’s definitely more design because it’s got to be functional. It has to be practical, it can’t be so weird that it’s distracting or you can’t move around in it.I want the clothes to be easy to wear but,I also want to offer something a little different and possesses a timeless quality. I also want everything to have pockets. If I can get a pocket in there, there’s going to be pocket there because it is necessary.


Has being in located in Hawaii influenced your designs?

R: Absolutely. I’m originally from northern California originally and so everything was lines and really tailored and layers and buttoned up colors. The environment and the culture has forced me to simplify my designs. We’re in a tropical climate and because of that we’re casual. I want to make tailored separates work in this climate. I still do some of things that I did in California, but it took me years to understand even how to dress myself here and what works and what doesn’t.

What do you want your viewer to understand about your work?

R: I think it’s important that the person who is wearing the clothes feels good. I use really high quality fabrics and natural fibers like cotton and linen. I want my work to come across as quality and really well fitting clothes. Clothes are supposed to feel good and make you feel good, right?



Do you have any advice to anyone who’s an aspiring designer?

R: Just keep working, keep doing, and keep producing. Even if you start small. Even if it’s a couple t-shirts or a couple pairs of shorts. Whatever it is that you’re doing, just start small and keep working. It takes a lot of hard work and you have to persevere. Talk to as many people as you can. When someone asks you what are you up to, reply like you own it. It took me a while to finally say that I’m a clothing designer. You have to  say it, claim it and put in the work.

Establishing yourself takes time. Everything takes longer than you think it’s going to. You have to establish your reputation so people trust you. This means as a designer, you have to be in it for the long haul.

Check out Rumiʻs online store!




Donʻt Worry, Eat Happy: Hakuna Banana

Photo by Frolic Hawaii

Photo by Yelp user H Q.


Hakuna Banana located on the second floor of the Ward Center Whole Foods Market

Hours of operation: 11:00am-7:00pm

TLDR: A delicious non-dairy, plant-based, banana soft serve made with real fruit and no refined sugars.

Current flavors: Banilla, Matcha

Toppings: banana chips, sprinkles, li hing mui, candy sugar, and shredded coconut

Ever since Whole Foods Market opened in Kakaʻako, the store has become a focal point for shopping and leisure in the Ward Village area. While exploring what the new store had to offer, I discovered Hakuna Banana and was immediately attracted to the bright pink sign with bananas patterned all over it. One of my favorite things to do with bananas that are a little too ripe is to mash them up in a bowl and stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Intrigued by their fun graphics and reminded of my favorite homemade dessert, I decided to buy a cup. I opted for the original Banilla flavor and added banana chips and coconut on top. Each bite was a dream; not too sweet and none of that artificial banana flavor. The coconut milk offered creaminess without making it too heavy.

Hakuna Banana offers a healthier alternative to ice cream without compromising deliciousness. Aptly,  their name is inspired by the Swahili phrase “hakuna matata,” which roughly translates into “no worries”. Located on the second floor of the Ward Center Whole Foods Market, this small soft serve stand will leave a big impression on your tastebuds. They currently offer two flavors – Banilla, their original vanilla banana combination, and matcha, a flavor unique to Hawaii.. Made with all natural ingredients (bananas, dates, and coconuts make the base of the two flavors), even the most health conscious person can feel good about enjoying a cup. All of Hakuna Bananaʻs products are vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, and corn-free, so people with dietary restrictions can savor the sweet, creamy treats worry-free. If you find yourself craving something sweet that will leave you feeling surprisingly refreshed, head over to Hakuna Banana and you will not be disappointed.

388 Kamakee St. (second floor of Whole Foods Market Ward), Open Mon-Thurs, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri-Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.



BoxLunch Vendor: Laverne’s Lunch Wagon

BoxLunch is a lunchtime series featuring food vendors in the BoxJelly storefront from 11am – 3pm. Click here for the list of schedules. Laverne’s will be at BoxLunch Monday’s.

LavernesTruckRene Paulo first opened Laverne’s Restaurant and Catering in Waipahu over 10 years ago. Rene’s son Travis manages the lunch wagon (now operating for over 5 years) and catering services, with Rene and Laverne cooking all the food. You may have seen Laverne’s at the last luau, birthday, wedding or graduation party you went to; the month of June alone, they served over 7,000 people.

Laverne's manager Travis Paulo (left) and Brandon.

Laverne’s manager Travis Paulo (left), and Brandon.

Although they are phasing out the restaurant, you may see them soon at your grocery store. Within the next year, Travis is looking to package their squid luau and smoked meat, and bottle their sauces. “A lot of people from the mainland ask us to box it up and ship [the squid luau] to them, so we thought it would be a good idea to expand into the retail sector.” As a graduate of University of Las Vegas who studied Finance, Travis brought his skills back home and contributes his knowledge towards building the family business. With Rene’s recipes and Travis’s finance skills, we can look forward to sharing in many more memories with Laverne’s.

Interview with Rene Paulo, owner of Laverne’s Restaurant and Catering:

The mahi plate - mini.

The (mini) Mahi plate – a favorite among many.

How did your concept come about?
I used to work for the state, Department of Education. I worked in food service, first as a cook, then a manager, and operated cafeterias. Then I decided to start my own restaurant back in November 2000.


The Teriyaki Chicken plate – mini (with sauce on da rice!)

What are some of the biggest/most unexpected challenges you face?
Getting good workers. Besides doing the food, it’s finding good, dependable workers. We are pretty well established as far as catering, but the success of your business depends on the kind of workers you have.

BoxJelly members, cruising on Kamani!

BoxJelly members Jo Anne, Danni, & Chelsea, cruising Kamani St. with Laverne’s!

What are the most rewarding aspects of your business?
Just hearing the comments from people. That’s the highest compliment I can get – “Oh your food is so good!”, or “Your smoked meat is the best!” In restaurants, the bottom line is your food. If you have great service but bad food, great spices but bad food, then you really don’t have anything.


Laverne’s Restaurant and Catering
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Monday’s: BoxLunch (307 Kamani Street)
Wednesday’s & Thurdays.: Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa, Engineering Building
Friday’s: Oceanic Cable Mililani Tech. Park
Mon. – Fri.: Campbell Industrial Park
Events: Eat the Street, the Food and New Products Show