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Lei Chic magazine gains PacificBasin ownership


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POSTED: Friday, April 24, 2009

PacificBasin Communications LLC has purchased Lei Chic, an online fashion and lifestyle magazine, for undisclosed terms from founder and publisher Alyson Helwagen.

"It's the most incredible, awesome thing, and I'm so excited about it," she said.

Helwagen built Lei Chic into a brand from daily e-mailed newsletters to an online magazine, bolstered by joint promotions with fashion industry players and her weekly appearances on KGMB-TV's "Sunrise" morning show at 6:40 a.m. Thursdays.

PacBasin now "own(s) the brand, the site, the content, all of that," said Helwagen, but she noted that she now has "all these great resources of an established and respected media company" to help it grow further.

Also, with "writers and editors and salespeople, I don't have to do it all myself," she said.

Helwagen distinguished Lei Chic, in part, by using fun, clever or catchy headlines in sharing news the way a trusted girlfriend might. Sponsored items were always clearly labeled as such.

"Merci Bamboo" topped a story about a Big Island surfboard shaper using bamboo in his creations; "You've Got Nail" led in to a story about a North Shore nail salon that does unusual chrome- or gold-look manicures; and a story about local fro-yo joints featuring the new tart-style frozen yogurt was headlined "Affair of the Tart."

She will continue as Lei Chic publisher and is now editor over PacBasin's custom publications division, which produces Ala Moana Magazine, Ward Centers Magazine and Whalers Village Magazine.

Lei Chic is "a solid complement to our other titles," said Scott Schumaker, vice president and group publisher at PacBasin, in a statement.

It is owned by Duane Kurisu, a minority investor in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

New festival producer

The Hawaii Food Industry Association has formed the Made in Hawaii Association to produce the First Hawaiian Bank Made in Hawaii Festival, staged each August and now entering its 14th year.

HFIA deals with food products and related legislation, while its festival showcases thousands of nonfood products that the new association will screen, based on a formula that HFIA has developed over the past three years.

The formula helps determine whether a product is manufactured, assembled, processed or has 51 percent of its value added in Hawaii, said Richard Botti, HFIA and Made in Hawaii Association president.

The new association will enable HFIA to "better patrol the exhibitors" at the festival and make sure the products deserve to be there.

Companies can join the Made in Hawaii Association for a $25 annual fee that will "cover the cost of reviewing everything," and, given a successful screening, they will have the opportunity to use the Made in Hawaii Festival logo to promote those products, he said.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).