Thursday, July 31, 2008

P.S. Did you catch the showdown?

As expected, last Sunday’s finale of HGTV’s Design Star was a great show with a lot of really good moments. Vern Yip, who is one of the judges, has his own show called Deserving Design, and I don’t know if it was his input or not, but the two beneficiaries of the final challenge were a police officer and a firefighter who happened to live across the street from each other in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina came along, and basically their families have not been able to live in their homes for three years—can you imagine that? So they were definitely deserving, and there were tear-jerking moments.

The finale presented the biggest and most extensive challenge of the season: Matt and Jennifer had to completely design and decorate the entire downstairs, from kitchen to dining room to living room.

Matt really stepped up his personality a notch for this last episode because remember, not only do you have to have good design, you also have to have a personality that people want to watch, or you might as well write a book! He seemed a lot more comfortable. Maybe it’s because when you do something like this for someone, you can’t help but really get into it. Matt showed more heart and personality and I thought he did a really good job with that.

But my personal feeling is Jennifer should be the winner. She has that natural personality that works well on television, she does have a good design eye, and in the final challenge I liked her design better. In Jen’s kitchen the family wanted something with color and boy, did she give it to them! Her use of red on the cabinets really popped, even though the white tiles were a strong contrast.

Her dining room felt elegant yet comfortable, not overdone or slapped together because of the time constraint, like Matt’s did. The stripes Jennifer painted on the walls gave the room a pulled-together look. There wasn’t a lot of time for art or accessories that make a room feel more finished, so those stripes added a lot, and overall it looked very polished.

I give them both credit—for the amount of time they had, what they were able to accomplish was extremely difficult. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, but knowing how long the design process takes, I think they did a very good job. These shows are also about entertainment value, and part of the fun is the stress of the competition and the ridiculous time and budget constraints: let’s put them through the wringer and see what they can come up with! I know that both Jennifer and Matt, if given enough time, could do a lot better work than what’s reflected in these challenges.

The winner will be announced this Sunday, which just so happens to be the last day of the BIA Remodel Expo, so as I’m in bed recuperating, I along with millions of others will be tuning in to see who’s going to be the next Design Star. Will you be watching?

Come see us this weekend!

It’s that crazy time of year again—expo time! This weekend is the annual BIA Remodel It Right Expo—a time our office looks forward to and dreads. It means three days of nonstop working at the show, tons of hours and no sitting down, barely any meal breaks, but somehow, fun and rewarding all the while!

It’s an opportunity for us to meet face to face with a lot of the people who have been on our website and at our workshops, and who have our products. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

I remember at the last BIA Home Show, one guy came to the booth, whipped out a copy of Homescape magazine and asked for my autograph. That was such a kick! He was sweet.

The expo is going to be at the Hawaii Convention Center from Friday night, all day Saturday, until Sunday at 4 p.m.

This is what our booth looks like today. Come by and see how we’ve RSVPstyled it—it’s going to be beautiful, all drywalled and set up like a living room with artwork and plasma TV and furniture—you’ll have to see it to believe it.

We’ll be in booths 315 and 317 and we are … ta-dadada! … debuting our brand new, affordably priced Starter Set! For people who show up at the expo, it’ll be specially priced at only $49. Regular price is $69, and we’ll even have a special expo price on our Deluxe Style Kit of only $199.

And for people who have not yet registered online to become members of, they can register at our booth for a shot at our $1000 Tommy Bahama rug giveaway. So many things going on I can’t even keep my head straight!

I’ve got to go now, we’re decorating our booth in a few hours. So tell your friends and stop by and say hello. See you at the show!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who’s getting your vote?

I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV, but I make it a point to Tivo and watch my favorite show, which is—no surprise!—HGTV’s Design Star. Obviously it’s right up my alley, but the drama, the fun, the chaos, and even the cattiness all really make for an entertaining show!

If you haven’t yet caught it, it airs on Sunday evenings at 9:00 in Hawaii. I try to go to bed early on Sunday nights and I always Tivo it, planning to watch it later, but then end up staying up to watch because I can’t stand to wait!

I think the reason I enjoy it so much is because I can so relate to what these contestants are going through. They not only have to design and create spaces, they also have to be fun and show personality on camera. I remember my very first scene when we were filming our DVD series. I had to open a door and walk in, and when my producer/director said, “Action!” everything went out of my head and I just froze. It’s not an easy thing to do!

Now Design Star is down to the final two contestants who are vying for their own show on HGTV. Although I think Jennifer and Matt are great, they’re completely different designers and television personalities, so I’m going to find it very interesting to see who the viewing audience will vote for in the end.

Jennifer has a bubbly and infectious personality. She seems like a girl next door you’d love to go shopping with. She has a very ethereal quality about her design, she’s artistic and creative. In most of her work she does her own artwork and painting and stenciling. My personal opinion: I just don’t know how diverse she can be, or at least the show has not shown her to have a lot of different styles. The last room that she did was a personal room for her sister, and she did her signature paintings on the wall and her sister loved it. She painted beautiful leaves which added a nice touch without being overdone. Sometimes painting and artwork on the wall can look a little crafty and not so polished, but this had a nice finished look to it.

Matt, on the other hand, seems a lot more serious, and he tries really hard to have a personality on camera because I think he’s lacking in that department. Where he makes up for it, though, is with strong design, especially when it comes to architecture and construction. When he did his audition, he showed the most amazing design board—creative and with a really strong sense of style. But he was not nearly as creative under the gun. They were all given a little cubicle to decorate, and he even said, this is a true test of your design skill. You’ve got white walls and a blank canvas. And he just crumbled. He stacked these brown cubic ottomans to look like a Southeast Asian temple, but to me it looked almost like Stonehenge, just awful. He almost got voted out. His design concept was good in theory but just did not translate.

Both of them deserve to be in the finals. It’ll be interesting to see who wins out: Jennifer’s strong suit is her personality, but if Matt is able to showcase his architectural and design sensibilities, I think he will win. I think he by nature is more of a designer and Jennifer is more of a decorator. On this show, you really kind of have to have both.

But hey, who am I to say? Tomorrow night is the finale and afterward, you’ll be able to vote for your favorite design star. You can bet I’ll be tuned in!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A great idea

I know this may sound weird, but at times I feel schizophrenic. I’m constantly coming up with new ideas for our company—advertising slogans, venues, events, you name it—it’s almost like hearing voices!

The problem is I have so many ideas and as a young company, we have a small staff that hears about them all the time. Everyone laughs when I say, Ooh, I just had an idea! So I’d been trying to come up with a way to be able to bounce ideas off of people, get feedback and unbiased opinion and constructive criticism. But who? And how? These people would need to truly understand RSVPstyle and our mission.

My latest and greatest idea came to me at our Shop with Focus event at Pacific Home Furnishings. I was told that 16 out of the 30 people there had attended all three of our last events—our Invitation to Design workshop in February and our Shop with Focus events at C.S. Wo and PHF. These were people like Randee Gabriele (remember Randee? She won the beautiful $10,000 pendant at the workshop and has flown in from Maui for every RSVPstyle event). All 16 are die-hard, true-blue supporters.

What better group to get this input and feedback from? Plus, many had already approached us to offer assistance and said they wanted to get more involved with RSVPstyle. All understood what we were doing and wanted to be a part of our growth. So I created our Inner Circle Club.

We kicked off with our first Inner Circle lunch meeting, at a home that I did on Waialae Golf Course. Litsa Weiser, whose family I sold it to, just happened to be in town and offered to open the house to us. The outdoor cabana and other rooms are featured in our three-disc DVD series; it’s also been photographed for various magazines and was featured in HGTV’s House Hunters.

It was the perfect spot: we could run projects and ideas past our Inner Circle and in return, offer some training in home design and décor as well help them out with their own projects! After a welcome mimosa toast, we took everyone on a tour of the house, complete with before-pictures and explanations of the whys, hows and challenges of the remodel and decorating.

It was a great day of learning and fun, and in true RSVPstyle, it was all about the win-win. So thank you Inner Circle group—thanks for sharing, caring and being a part of our growth!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Glad we met you, kdi!

On a recent evening we were invited to a Building Industry Association event. As relatively new BIA members, we’re usually fired up about getting out there and meeting people from across this dynamic industry. But that day, I’d had so many meetings I almost wished I hadn’t RSVPed. And Lissa couldn’t come because she had a small emergency at home. But pupus and a party are always a draw for us! And we thought it would be fun to check out a new potential resource to share with you. So Kara and I headed out, promising each other we would make this a short evening.

The event was at kdi elements on Paiea Street in Mapunapuna. kdi carries residential and commercial elements ranging from mosaic and ceramic tiles to hardwood flooring and more, and they recently did a $160 million renovation of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui. We were greeted by a very friendly staff, nice wine and appetizers, and a really stunning, brand-new 3,000-square-foot showroom—beautifully laid out, cutting-edge and unique. Loved it!

I made it a point to meet the manager of this location, Lindsey Boswell. She was so full of energy and bubbly as can be. We explained what we do and she loved the concept of us training people’s eye for home design and décor—she said that would help her! So she brought over her boss, the owner and CEO, Paul Klein.

Paul is really my kind of guy! Super nice, easygoing, down to earth and a total entrepreneur. He and his wife, Annie, started their tile installation company almost 20 years ago out of the back of their pickup truck. Today they have over 300 employees and over $45 million in annual sales. What an incredible success story!

They have a 20,000-square-foot facility in Los Angeles and Paul divides his time between the Honolulu location and his headquarters in Palm Desert, California. They have so many new and exciting products. One of my favorite vignettes in his showroom was a little niche area with red glass accent tiles on the wall—very contemporary and sexy—it was red-hot!

Kara and I were laughing as we left. Here we’d promised we’d make it a short evening. Well, as they were cleaning up, rolling away the cocktail tables, sweeping the floor, we were the last to leave! We had such a great time meeting great new people. I’m so glad we went.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Good morning—we’re on the air!

I feel like I’ve found a new home. Today’s segment on KITV4 Island Television News This Morning was my very first regular appearance as their new homestyle expert. Everyone from the cameraman to, of course, Mahealani Richardson and Dan Meisenzahl is so much fun! How in the world they can be like that at 4 a.m., which is when a lot of them get in, is beyond me!

Kara and I arrived at the station at 6:15 for my 6:45 segment

Kara is definitely NOT a morning person, so I really appreciated her coming along to take some of these behind-the-scene photos so that I could share them with you.

We arrived at the station to the sound of music, literally. Seven-time Hoku award winner Hoku Zuttermeister was performing. And then we said hello to Dan and Mahealani. I had butterflies in my stomach, as I always do before I do a workshop or go live on TV, and there was Kara sticking a camera in my face, saying, ‘So how do you feel?’

So I did a little clip with her before I got miked up. That’s when Ben Gutierrez, the weatherman, came up behind me and scared me half to death, and I actually screamed on video. So, as I’m having butterflies and sort of whispering so as not to disturb what’s going on, here comes Ben and makes me even more nervous!

If you think I wasn’t really scared, take a look at the clip!

Just like the first time I was on the show, Mahealani puts me right at ease, and rascal Dan comes up to shake my hand just to get more mug time. It was a really fun chance to share what RSVPstyle’s all about, as we start this journey of training their viewers’ eyes for design and décor. In this first interview I wanted to share just exactly what is RSVPstyle because from here on out, every other Wednesday, I’m going to be teaching their viewers how to work with their spaces, just as we do at RSVPstyle.

So if you missed it, here’s the clip, and shortly we’ll be getting it onto our press page as well.

It was a lot of fun, so don’t miss my next segment on Wednesday, July 16. Stay tuned—it’s going to be a lot of fun!