Lauhalahats.com is the world-wide-web address for "Cherie's Place" that provides an online store for my handmade Kona Lauhala Hats. Cherie's Place started as a custom picture framing studio but evolved into ulana lauhala in 2009.
Lauhala weaving (actually “plaiting”) has always been a treasured skill in Hawaiian culture. Ancient weavers were able to create sails, mats, baskets, and other necessities just using technique and leaves of the Hala (pandanus) tree. Traditionally, each family had a weaver, but with Western contact and the shift to a monetary economy, weaving became a cottage industry. After that it almost became lost to antiquity except for the wisdom of master weavers (not limited to) Gladys Grace, Frank Masagatani, Elizabeth Maluihi Lee, Lily Sugahara, and Minnie Ka‘awaloa who established organizations to actively perpetuate the craft.
In 2004 I was riding with my friends in a Kamehameha Day parade as Pāʻū Queen. In 2002, while planning our unit, I decided I wanted to wear a "cup & saucer" style lauhala hat. They were not easily found for sale. When asked, the answer from my weaver friends was "why don't you make it?" This began a adventure in learning to gather, clean, and prepare the lau, to weaving a piko, to weaving a hat, then to weaving that special style of hat. I couldn't stop after that cup and saucer. I had joined a hui (group) of weavers and met amazing kumu (teachers) and made wonderful friends. It turned out that the kumu, Margaret Lovett, that taught me how to make cup & saucers had actually made the cup & saucers that I had been admiring back in 1999.
As a public school teacher, when budget cuts required furloughs and pay cuts, I needed another source of income so I didn't have to choose between food or utilities. Weaving and selling lauhala hats became the way to make ends meet. Ulana originally started out of necessity, I wanted a certain style of hat. Then it became a hobby, I enjoyed the meditation alone and fellowship with other weavers. Then it became a source of much needed income. Lauhalahats.com allows me to sell my hats without direct competition with local weavers while making genuine made in Hawai'i handcrafted pāpale lauhala available to those who live outside Hawaiʻi nei.
With the cooperation and immense coordination of weaving friends Marit Dewhurst and Marsha MacDowell, we co-wrote two articles about ka ulana lauhala and education: "Becoming Haumana," Cultural Arts Resources for Teachers and Students, vol. 12, 2011-2012 and "Ka ulana ‘ana i ka piko (In Weaving You Begin at the Center): Perspectives from a Culturally Specific Approach to Art Education," Harvard Educational Review Spring 2013.
I have much gratitude and aloha for my friends, kumu, and na kupuna who have taught me the skills of quilting, lei making, and ka ulana lauhala. These wonderful sources of knowledge are: the late Harriet Soong, the late Gladys Grace, Margaret Lovett, Pohaku Kahoʻohanohano, Marcia Omura, Shirley Kauhaihao, Linda Saffery, Barbara Nobriga, and the late Ed Kaneko.
I was born in Honolulu but grew up in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am a farm girl wannabe who lives in South Kona with my husband, dog, chickens, ducks, and geese. I have a Bachelor's degree in Art from Linfield College in Oregon, Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and a Master's degree in Pacific Island History from the University of Hawaii Manoa. I am a member of Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona.