Paiko Ohana: Ann Kadowaki


Paiko's reknowned 'haku lei master' Ann Kadowaki's holiday workshop is just around the corner and we wanted to introduce you to this busy bee! Ann invited us to her happy place at Lyons Arboretum in Manoa where she actively volunteers as the Vice President on the board. We explored the arboretum as she named off the various plants of Hawaii and chatted about her haku talents, inspiration, and future European garden travel plans --for the time being she's kind-of booked!


Born and raised on Oahu in Pauoa Valley, her inspiration is drawn from her childhood. Both sides of her family were actively involved in the local flower culture. Her dad was an orchid grower and her uncles were commercial rose farmers. In fact, her first job was on a rose farm where she cleaned and bundled the flowers. "I was horribly slow because I was so OCD about maintaining the roses. They had to be perfectly in line, no odd ones out."


Here are some questions we posed to the 'haku lei master':

When and how did haku-making become your passion? How did you become involved in the art form?

I think I always loved plants and flowers. Flowers especially. I used to make 'weed bouquets' -- little weeds that have little flowers on them. I would cluster them together in little bundles and stick them inside a rock. My Dad used to grow orchids and when they were blooming, I would collect the little buds. I used to think they looked like 'chick' heads and they were intriguing. He would spank my hand for plucking them. But I love flowers.


Where do you source your materials? What typical plants and flowers are found in your lei?

Usually my yard or my friends' yards. Sometimes I buy them locally depending on what I am making. Most of the time, my lei friends and I gather from each other's yard. A lot of us make little arrangements too in our other jobs. For Hawaiian table swags, I love to use a whole head of Ti. I love using the Song of India for its color and to brighten the piece. Also, Miniature Beef Steak leaves, given that name because they are red in color, can be included. I use Box Wood which is an ovoid type tree for filler. Depending on what I'm making, I love using different colors like reds or browns.


What is a Hawaiian table swag?

Hawaiian table swags are gigantic Haku lei, laid on the table. Normally I have this workshop at Lyon so I pick my materials here. I may have to go on some raiding sprees for my Song of India.


What type of method is used to create your Hakus?

I use a winding method. It's the easiest to teach too. I find it difficult to braid.

What began the collaboration between Paiko and you?

God, that was a funny one! We are the current lei makers at the Punahou Carnival. Previously it was the Kapuna making the lei since the 70s. I enjoy making lei, learning more techniques and meeting people. We have a network of lei Goddesses in the booth at the Carnival. One year we were talking story and there was an overwhelming amount of lei orders. Sweet young Tamara came to the booth and asked to speak to a lei maker in the back and the crew asked me, I guess because I'm the bossiest [laughs.] She explained about her workshop and her earnestness was appealing. I was so tired but I couldn't say 'No' with her 2 friends peering behind her. I gave her my email address, we corresponded and I stopped by the shop to understand. It's a charming place!


Ann teaches a lei workshop once a year at Punahou school to mothers and students. This year she brings her knowledge and enthusiasm to Paiko to teach a different type of student.

On December 16th she will be hosting our 'Holiday Table Swag' workshop where you can dress your holiday table the Hawaiian way with a lush table swag crafted from local foliages and berries. Make sure to sign up via our RSVP website or calling the shop for more details before its too late!

Photographs by © Sara Mayko 2014

Paiko Ohana: Jason Silverstein

Fresh, seasonal, flowers are a big part of our mission at Paiko, and we are proud to source most of these beauties on-island. Our friend Jason Silverstein is a favorite Oahu farmer, always amazing us with the blooms he brings in from his East Oahu property and the neighboring Waiahole Fresh Farm.  We took a trip out to Jason's jungle oasis with Paiko contributor Marcela Biven to get a peek into his life in paradise.

paiko kahaluu
paiko kahaluu

Written by

Marcela Biven


The drive to Waiahole is a magical one- one road swaying to-and-fro through long legged trees and eye gaping vistas. Grey concrete is replaced with the depth of chlorophyll green, massaging the eyes and stimulating the senses. Yet this is only the introduction to the natural grandeur that has taken root through the efforts of Jason Silverstein and the crew at Waiahole Fresh Farm.

You can find traces of the land in Jason’s daily tea and edible odds and ends. He is in a serious relationship with the land in the most playful and lively way possible: dutifully caring for and managing the acres of land he oversees while climbing banana trees and honing his archery skills with target practice. Everything is familiar to him, both necessary and possessing a name. Yet, the plants are not organized by rows and clusters but rather find their place in a natural, varied landscape. Demanding zealous work, vigilance and trust in the land, this style of farming is called permaculture.

        An island boy through and through, Jason studied geography in college but found his essential passion in cultivating the land. Harboring a love of emerald forest plants, he and his canine companions meander about his own verdant three acres, separate from Waiahole, spying bananas, ginger and the occasional stray rooster. Speaking of roosters, Jason doubles as a sculptor creating wildly beautiful arrangements made from local plants and, lo and behold, roosting roosters! Thus creating pieces with unique life, personality and pizzaz.

        With ease and a laugh constantly lodged in his throat, Jason lives a life that mirrors the varied beauty of the flowers, trees, shrubs and roots on his land. And much like the fantastical wolf t-shirts he wears, which he admits to having invigorating energy properties, he's a force of aloha to be reckoned with.