Maui is a world-class destination for a lot of things, but shopping? Not so much. Sure we have cute little boutiques, and bikini shopping that is noteworthy, but for anything for the home, choices have been pretty limited – that was, until two talented young interior designers saw this void, and have been filling it, with gorgeous pillows, comfy yet stylish couches, handy hostess gifts and much more! Wendy Takemoto and Jessica Guard McLellan decided to open up HUE, a furniture and lifestyle store, and the results? Well, they’ve been stunning.
“We were designers before we were in retail, and it was never possible to find pieces in our style on-island,” Jessica explained. “We knew other people must also be feeling that need. So we thought rather than ordering from mainland stores, why not open our own?” And Maui shoppers heartily agreed, voting them Best New Business in 2013 and Best Home Furnishings in 2014 in the Maui Time Weekly’s Best of Maui readers’ poll.
In 2012, Wendy and Jessica opened HUE at their original retail and design space on Kahului’s Lalo Avenue. Not quite two years later, with a good idea of what island shoppers were looking for, Wendy and Jessica jumped at the chance to move to a much larger space in an established location. They are now located at the former Latitudes, as the anchor for a whole design center, with The Garden, supplying silk flowers, plants and arrangements, by Latitudes’ former purveyors, and Suda Shades, creating custom window treatments.
The new location is approximately 5,000 square feet, triple the size of their former location. “Our goal is to have the island’s premiere home and lifestyle shop, and this new space brings us one step closer. We now can present an even wider range of carefully curated home and gift items” Jessica continued. HUE is still Maui’s exclusive dealer for Lee Industries’ furniture, they have added a few new luxury furniture lines, including Lexington and Palecek, and have brought in some more affordable options as well. HUE is constantly adding to their inventory to offer fresh pieces for shoppers, with containers arriving monthly, and smaller shipments arriving even more frequently.
In addition to furniture, HUE is expanding their bed and bath collection, and offers a wide range of home accessories and gifts, including tabletop accessories, hostess gifts, jewelry, soaps and lotions, eco-friendly wrapping paper, coffee table books, lighting and more. “We travel to the mainland two to three times a year for furniture and gift markets,” shared Wendy. “It’s the best way for us to see what’s current, to get the best possible pricing from our manufacturers, and to check out the quality of the pieces before we order. We also get a lot of our inspiration when we travel to market. We love seeing other shops in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, North Carolina… It’s just good to see stores that aren’t ALL rattan and tropical.”
In addition to offering what’s trending across the country, HUE offers many locally made items including bags by True Story Company and Tiger Lily, compass watches by Pandeia, body products by Queen Bee Productions, jewelry by Kachi, Sophie Grace Maui, Jasmine Honey Designs and Salty Luxe Hawaii, pillows by BlueJane Maui, and eco-friendly wrapping paper by Wrappily. Featured Maui-based artists include Abigail Romanchak, Robert Suzuki and Dane Ward.
According to HUE’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Birgitte Golden, giving back to the Maui community is an important part of the business as well. “We sponsor and donate to many non-profit events, and even assist event design, like at the Pacific Cancer Foundation’s Kama’aina Christmas for the past two years. We also participate in other fundraisers, like the Lee Industries’ Lee Loves America campaign, with a portion of sales going to a local non-profit.” Birgitte continued that, “another great aspect of HUE is that it is locally-owned and operated – Aloha is engrained in who we are, and all customers are met with a down-to-earth, no pressure attitude.” All five team members are born and raised in Hawaii. In addition to Wendy, Jessica and Birgitte, the team includes Design Associate Heather Guard and Warehouse Manager Chris Auna.
Wendy and Jessica also offer professional services including residential and commercial interior design, kitchen and bath design, architectural computer renderings, and more. Appointments are recommended for design services.
As I chatted with Wendy and Jessica about their new space, I asked what they’ve learned so far in their foray into retail, and what surprises have come up along the way. “Our eyes have really been opened to how shipping affects the costs of goods,” explained Wendy. “Also, people sometimes don’t fully understand that we are on an island in the middle of the ocean…things take longer to get here, and cost a little more. As Jessica shares, “mainly, retail is a lot of work. And it’s a different beast in this era with online shopping, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram….it takes a lot more to stay ahead of the game, but these are also very powerful marketing tools if you know how to use them.”
Mahalo to the HUE crew for the interview!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Location: 210 Alamaha St, Kahului
- Hours: Mon- Fri – 9am- 5pm, Sat 10am – 4pm, Closed Sunday
- Phone: (808) 873-6910
- Website: mauihue.com
Disclaimer: I am a paid consultant for HUE, but the opinions are my own.