Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Kimono couture
coming to Kakaako

There's soon to be yet another feather in Mitch D'Olier's cap. Anne Namba Designs Inc. is preparing an April move from its 13-year home in Manoa to Victoria Ward Ltd. property on Kamani Street, more than tripling its overall space and quadrupling its retail floor.

This isn't the first time Namba has expanded her business. She initially relocated to Manoa after two years of operations from her parents' Niu Valley home.

Victoria Ward Ltd. CEO D'Olier "approached me several years ago and said, 'We want you in one of our spots,'" said Namba, president of the self-named company. But at the time she still had two years to go on the Manoa lease. He pledged to contact her as the expiration date got closer.

When Namba moved into her 2,000-square-foot digs in Manoa she was under the impression she had a lot of room. With years of business success, quarters got progressively tighter until the sentiment became, "We have got to move," she said.

The decision was made to look for 5,000 square feet somewhere else and to sublet the Manoa space, but one potential location fell through and others were either too small or huge, she said.

"I'm very particular about location," said Namba, explaining that housing her manufacturing and design functions in expensive retail square footage is not practical.

"On the other hand we didn't want to be in such an industrial area that my clients would feel uncomfortable about coming to the retail store. We had to have all these things covered," Namba said.

Now undergoing remodeling the new location is next to the relocated Fiddler's household fixtures store on Kamani Street between Halekauwila and Pohukaina Streets, according to Victoria Ward Director of Leasing Leslie Brown. Namba involved her 10 employees in the process of designing the new space to facilitate production and design. "Everybody had a say," she said.

"We're excited to have her," Brown said. "We've been trying to get her to do a retail store forever."

Namba's space will more than triple to 6,400 square feet on two levels. The 400 square feet she now uses for retail will grow to 1,600 square feet, she said.

The retail space will be sectioned to showcase Namba's different lines, including a wedding shop, men's shop, wearable art and print section, she said.

She returned TheBuzz's calls amid a busy day of running her business and meeting with contractors and sign people.

"I told them to make sure it's a legal sign," she said with an audible smile.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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