Reflections on a Product Launch

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Reflections on a Product Launch

Maybe it’s a little early to be ‘reflecting’ . . . this venture is barely two months old. But the launch of Kauai Design’s product line has been consuming my daydreams lately. After 18+ years of designing for my fabulous clients, I’m having a blast creating images for my own self-expression . . . and hopefully another income stream.

For one thing, it’s putting me in the shoes of my clients who are launching products of their own. And it has made me more sensitive to the needs of local retailers. It has also brought me into the world of the ‘maker’ culture on

I’ve never called myself an artist. Although I’m pretty good at manipulating vectors and pixels onscreen, I still can’t pick up a pencil (or stylus) and draw much of anything to my satisfaction. As a graphic designer I’ve always been a curator, editor and assembler of visual chunks of information into a cohesive message. Until now it has always been someone else’s message.

Now it’s what resonates with me, starting with my love for things tropical and earthy and simple. My first project was a series of mahalo (thank you) cards featuring six simple, colorful icons of island life. mahalo cardsThe boxed sets were released the day after Thanksgiving with the intention of helping to extend the season of . . . well, giving thanks. I’m a believer in appreciation, in focusing on the good in people and situations. The term “Pollyanna” is usually used derisively but I think Pollyanna was on to something with her glad game. Appreciation is an uplifting state of mind that generally makes me feel better and makes my life work better. My current bedtime ritual includes writing down what I most appreciated about the day, which sends me off to dreamland in a peaceful and positive state of mind. And there will always be a special place in my heart for the seven retailers on Kauai who purchased my first product, the mahalo cards.

The next series was a set of whimsical seascapes featuring different moods of the the ocean and skies.

ocean-skyblue-planetClose on its heels was a series of marine animals, a whale, a dolphin, and a honu (green sea turtle) in their element: the rippling, flowing, sparkling sea. The ideas continue to churn.

I’ve been immersed in Hawaiiana and island images for awhile now, incorporating tasteful touches into client projects whenever appropriate. And decades before moving to Hawaii, I was already enchanted by vintage Hawaiian art.

In the 1980’s I acquired an original Gill airbrush (Woman in Sarong c. 1940’s) from a colorful character I knew in Austin Texas. He collected vintage Hawaiiana and always wore aloha shirts. He would bring his found treasures to the frame shop I was managing for archival framing, although he couldn’t always afford to get them out of hock. In the end, he had to sell some pieces to pay his mushrooming framing bill, and I found myself in the right place at the right time. “Woman in Sarong” served as kind of a beacon, calling me to Kauai again and again until a move here was almost inevitable. Once the decision to relocate was made, I started creating collages of island imagry to keep me focused on the goal and motivate me to do what it took to get here. I was in love.

Woman in Sarong by Gill

Woman in Sarong by Gill

Though visuals usually do the heavy lifting in graphic design (grabbing attention, evoking an emotional response, etc.) most projects involve combining images with words. Posters with inspirational quotes have been a staple in my design sandbox for years (see free downloads) and are likely to find their way into my line of note cards. Some designs may go beyond the world of paper goods to more durable and functional objects. The possibilities are fun to imagine in these early days of product design.

As a past visitor to Hawaii, I was always drawn to gifts and souvenirs that had the feel of Old Hawaii – natural, nostalgic, even primitive. I believe many of us long for simpler times and appreciate island art that invokes that feeling.

If these images speak to you, Kauai Design products are currently available at Yellowfish Trading Company, On the Road to Hanalei, Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kiko Simple Goods, Spa by the Sea (Waipouli Beach Resort), Red Koi (Shops at Kukuiula) and National Tropical Botanical Gardens.

Not on Kauai? Check out my store on More designs to come!

And, if you’ve read this far, I appreciate YOU for caring enough to read this entire post! Mahalo.

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