Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Have you missed me?

I know I've been MIA from my blog lately, but it's not because I haven't been working. In fact, Lissa, Kara, Melissa and I have been working waaay too much! All that hard work paid off this past Saturday at our Invitation to Design workshop at the Dole Cannery Ballrooms. I am sooo tired and so glad it's over. It could not have gone any better!

To my amazement, there were 75 people standing in line before the doors opened at 8:15. We set up for 320 attendees, and we even had to bring in another table. In today’s economy, we were thrilled that so many people decided to spend most of their Saturday and their hard-earned money to attend.

I always start my workshops by sharing a little about my background. For the first time, I shared a few photos from my childhood in Pearl City. I wanted everyone to see the not-so-stylish home that I grew up in. From the boar head hanging in the living room to the Korean lacquer furniture to the water buffalo carving from the Philippines, yes, it was a very eclectic home...but not in a good way. (Sorry Mom and Dad!)

The energy from the audience was amazing—everyone really seemed focused and ready to learn. Early on I talked about putting textures and patterns together, then gave people a chance to work with their tables to try their hand at it. It was great to see how excited and involved everyone was. But that involvement is always heightened when there’s a prize on the line.

I am a total believer in games. I think that learning should always be fun, and adults love to play too! They key is to create a game that can be a fun learning experience. The first table to successfully put together their dream space with the materials at their fingertips—color fan decks, books of fabrics, samples of granite, carpet and wood flooring—plus complete a mock ‘mortgage application’ would win. The winning table was loaded with guys from American Carpet One! Each received a $100 gift certificate from Honolulu Lights.

Just before lunch, I introduced our presenting sponsors, Amy Kunz from The Honolulu Advertiser and Nelson Oyadomari from Primary Residential Mortgage. They were both so great to work with. Not to mention, they are both a lot of fun! Amy left her husband home to babysit so she could come with her mom. Nelson, who is such a clown, came up on stage dressed all in black except for a red napkin hanging out of his pocket—he said it was his pop of accent color!

The final part of the day was a segment on staging a home. We had a lot of Realtors and their clients there. As I was asking the audience questions, most everyone was responding...and with the right answers. I always love this part. I call it the part when the light bulb goes off—it's the moment when people realize that they are learning, and it does make sense, and they are really getting it, and maybe they can learn to decorate after all!

When the workshop was over, there was a line of people waiting to talk with me and give me a hug. That was when I really felt that all the hard work was worth it. Everyone was so sweet and their thanks so sincere. I was really touched. It made me feel special. It almost made me want to do another workshop...NOT!

Next: Moments that will make you say ‘Awww…’: the human side of the day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's in a name?

You have no idea! Lissa and I just got our federal trademark registration for RSVPstyle in the mail this week. Thank you, United States Patent and Trademark Office! Yahoo! It's been almost a year and a half in the making.

Let me start from the beginning. When we first started RSVPstyle, we weren't RSVPstyle. We came up with the brilliant name of IDesignNetwork—catchy, huh? We wanted to inspire and teach people to do home design and décor projects themselves, so that's what the I signified, and we chose Network because we knew we were going to be a web-based company.

We went to It's the biggest domain name registrar in the world, and sure enough, wasn't taken. All set! We registered it, printed business cards, and got ready to open for business.

Problem was, our attorneys didn't agree.

Even though we had registered, if anyone else was already using that name, even if they didn't own the dot com, they could potentially sue us. Come on, IDesignNetwork?! OK. Back to our search.

Every time we came up with a name, we would immediately check Go Daddy to see if there was a dot com. Nine point nine times out of 10, our brilliant idea was already taken. So we started grabbing any name we could think of and registering it before anyone else could—we’d grab the dot com first, think about it later. After all, each dot com only cost a few dollars.

So, what’s catchy? What words would set us apart? How would the name look in advertising? To give you an idea of how all over the map we were, how hard our brains were working, and how stymied we got, we were blowing through names like,, and Let me tell you, about $500 later we were still searching!

Finally, in frustration, we took a cue from the founders of Apple, who at the end of their own agonizing name search said that if they could not come up with a name by the following day, they would just name their company Apple. We said if we cannot come up with a name, we'll just name our company TheBrownChair. And you know what? The more we thought about it, hey,, that's kind of catchy! We like that! Let's get the dot com!

Can you believe was taken?

Four months later and counting, I decided to go back to the drawing board. OK, Cathy, think out of the box. We're not going to get any name that has home or decorating, they’re all taken.

I started just rattling off ideas. We're fun, we're inclusive, almost like a party, and we want to invite everybody to join in. Invitation, party, how about RSVP? And whatever we’re going to do, we're going to do with style. That’s it! RSVPstyle!

And guess what? We got the dot com, sent in for our trademark, and now, almost a year and a half later, we can officially use the magic trademark stamp. We're now truly legit and we have the mark to prove it.

After all that angst, I could honestly say I would give up my daughter's name before our company’s!

Monday, October 13, 2008


No, Wisit—as in the latest contestant kicked off Bravo’s reality TV show Top Design. As judge Jonathan Adler says, Wisit is absolutely j’adorable. He has such a sweet quality and talent in his own style—what did he call it? Timeless design. Wisit has a special elegance about him, a look of gracious self-consciousness, eyes downcast, very geisha-like. He is multitalented, trained in art history, fashion design and interior design, and to top it off, he is an opera singer—and a fairly good one, at that!

But unfortunately, he has no talent when it comes to eco-friendly design. Last week’s challenge was to redesign an office for an environmental consulting firm. Wisit, eco-friendly? Going green? I don’t think so. Mr. Frou-frou Flamboyant wanted no part of this challenge, choosing instead to stick to his own preferences and showing complete ignorance of green materials and sensibilities. And sure enough, he found himself in the bottom two with Natalie.

Bottom line was, Wisit wanted to do what Wisit wanted to do, and all in all, his room was quite boring.

But I have to say, when the final curtain came down and Wisit was told that the judges could not live with his design, it was a very sad moment for all of television-land. And as the credits rolled and he sang his final aria, I shed a tear for poor Wisit.

That’s the bad news. Wisit’s gone. The good news is, I heard that they’re auditioning for Madame Butterfly (joke!).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Breakfast of champions

Forget Michael Phelps. I know who should be on the cover of the next Wheaties box: Perry and Price! The state of Hawaii has been waking up and having breakfast with these two pros for the last 25 years, can you believe it? When it comes to the breakfast of champions, they take the cake—or the pancake, hahaha! (I crack myself up!)

This past weekend, I had a chance to be interviewed on Perry and Price’s live Saturday morning broadcast from John Dominis. Kara, Lissa and I were there bright and early. We noticed a very rowdy bunch of people wearing these funny red hats. When I took a closer look, they had shrimp on their heads! They were from Turtle Bay Resort, promoting the Seafood Festival that’s coming up. I thought that was really cute.

Soon it was my turn to be interviewed. Mainly I wanted to talk about our upcoming workshop. Sweetie Pacarro, who I’ve known for years, joined in and told Mike and Larry how our DVD had helped her in remodeling her house. As I was heading back to our table, a woman extended her hand and told me, You have a long and brilliant career ahead of you in this business. I said thank you! She said I know that, because I’m psychic Dayle Schear, and you were born to do this!

She made my morning—after all, it must really be true, right? Now I could relax and enjoy my brunch and the rest of the show. And boy, what a show! There were all kinds of people. I ran into Tia Carrere, actress and singer, who I went to school with at Sacred Hearts Academy. But there was someone else there who always has me starstruck: my former principal, Mrs. Betty White, who’s looking great as ever!

Later we were treated to the sounds of the Society of Seven, who have been around forever. They did a number, sounding as fabulous as ever, and Jasmine Trias also serenaded us. And Mike Moniz, a world-famous natural body builder, was there to promote the upcoming Food and New Products Show.

All in all, it was fun morning of networking and catching up with friends from the past. We had a wonderful breakfast (with champions!) with an amazing ocean view, got in a little plug, were entertained and I even got my fortune told—who could ask for more?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Out and about

Time to play catch-up on a busy week. Usually I’m in the office working, but last week my calendar was stuffed with three events, two of which I was speaking at.

First Fashion Friday finally arrived—a day I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I was giving a presentation on home style as part of Aloha Tower Marketplace’s final FFF of the year. Friends came out, but there were many more new faces. Truthfully, it was one of the toughest speaking gigs I’ve ever done. Don’t get me wrong, in no way was it bad, it was just a different challenge to hold focus and attention (including my own) in the open-air environment of ATM’s beautiful atrium, where shoppers and diners are walking by and talking. At one point during my segment, a store’s siren went off. I tried to shake it off, but as I’m talking I’m thinking, when are they going to shut that d--- thing off?!

Fortunately the audience was great and responsive and people came up afterward and told me they got a lot out of it. I wanted to make it visual and interesting, so I brought up some props to illustrate how by learning a few simple tricks and techniques and adding a few pieces, you can blend styles to create a space that’s more eclectic and personal, and it’s not hard and doesn’t take long. If I can do that onstage in the middle of Aloha Tower Marketplace, you can certainly do it in your home!

Melissa from our office helped me onstage with my props, my cute little Vanna White, while Lissa and Kara manned our table. The man of the hour, James, videotaped the whole thing for us. The video will be up on tomorrow—watch it and tell me what you think!

After my segment, FFF ended with a fashion show, and by the time that was over I was starving. Together with a nice-size group of old and new friends, we capped off the evening at Gordon Biersch with garlic fries, pizzas and one or two mojitos. Thanks Jason for the pics.

But we couldn’t stay out too late—we had to be up early for an 8 a.m. gig on Saturday. Tell you more about that later!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

See you at First Fashion Friday!

I’m kind of bummed. I had to burst my daughter Nicki’s bubble yesterday. She was prancing around the living room, doing her best supermodel walk, going, “Mommy, I can’t wait! Can I be in the fashion show with you?”

I said, “WHAT are you talking about?”

She said, “You said you’re going to be in First Fashion Friday!”

“Mommy’s not in the fashion show,” I told her, “Mommy’s going to be talking at First Fashion Friday.”

She shot me a look: oh, talking. Again.

That got me thinking—why am I talking at First Fashion Friday? Well, Melissa Chang, marketing diva at Aloha Tower Marketplace, asked me to, because their theme for tomorrow night’s event is finding your style. After all, fashion and home design and décor really are intrinsically related.

Although style in fashion changes much more rapidly than it does in home design, the latter does evolve. You’re still layering colors, textures, fabrics. There are a lot of similarities. But it’s really interesting that there are a lot of women who have confidence in their sense of fashion, but are morbidly afraid to make any updates to their home.

I can relate, because I was one of those women. What I want to do tomorrow is show people, in my allotted 15 minutes, that there are ways to not only find your style, but mix your styles to create a more evocative, interesting and personal space. I’m excited—I’ve got all my props ready, quick lessons planned out, it’s going to be a real info-packed show-and-tell!

So come watch the whole shebang tomorrow night, including some real models doing their work in the finale fashion show. There’s going to be lots of fun and giveaways. We’ll be at Aloha Tower Marketplace in the center atrium from 6 p.m. I promise you’ll learn some tips about finding your style!

Back to Nicki. She looked so disappointed that to make her feel better, I let her sashay around the living room in my high heels, hardwood floor and all, and told her, “You know what? There’s only room for one supermodel in this family, and that’s you, Nicki!”