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My Job: Jewelry Retail Buyer, Business Owner

Lo Kaimuloa of Riches Kahala explains the ins and outs of her work

Lo Kaimuloa, center, with her staff at Riches Kahala.

Photo: Courtesy Kamakani Goo

Name: Lo Kaimuloa

Job: Owner/Buyer, Riches Kahala

Years of Experience: 30

Starting Out: Kaimuloa spent five years learning high-end retail with jewelry designer Bernard Hurtig, then, in 1986, she opened Riches Kahala, an 87-square-foot kiosk in Kahala Mall. She expanded to 200 square feet in 2002.

Biggest Misconception: “That retail is easy, glamorous and fun. It’s just plain hard work!” Kaimuloa says. She makes at least three buying trips a year to New York and/or Los Angeles. She also reviews the work of countless local designers.   

Innovations: In her early days, Kaimuloa was always ahead of the trends. She was the first to introduce mainland and foreign designers such as Kate Spade, Isabella Fiore, Jose and Maria Barrera, Erickson Beamon, Alexis Bittar and Ippolita to Hawaii. They didn’t sell well initially because customers didn’t “get” their designs.

Taking risks: Kaimuloa is known for her ability to spot talented local designers and give them their start. Among her discoveries: Bliss Lau, Misa, Beachcomber Designs, Hands in the Sand, Kimberly Le and Two Hands. “It’s important because we’re a locally owned store. A lot of times I’ve stepped out to buy a line and it’s totally crashed and burned, but we have to keep trying.”

Rewards: “We have such a great staff and loyal clientele who’ve grown up with us. We’re now serving the children and grandchildren of our early customers.”

Toughest Part: “Being copied. People come and take pictures and videos of my merchandise and go knock it off – or contact my designers behind my back. It’s so blatant and disrespectful.”

Internet's Impact: “It has changed everything. People want things instantly. They’re more savvy. But my clients want to touch and feel it and try it on. They might search something on the Internet, but they’ll ask me to get it for them.”

Pay: “To make it in a small store it’s all about volume. To reach our goal of $400,000 a year we have to move a lot of merchandise.”

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Apr 3, 2013 07:08 pm
 Posted by  kamakani

I just wanted to mention something that Lo failed to mention. Perhaps, she felt it was not for her to say, so I am adding this. When you stop by Riches she and her beautiful staff are always just so happy to see you... they know how to make you feel welcome. That is her secret... the essence of Aloha many stores forget this. Thank you Lo for not forgetting the true spirt of Aloha.... Mahalo nui loa.

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