John Paul Farmer wants to sell you some air. Not air, exactly, but a bottle with
fragrance beads in it, labeled "Pure Hawaiian Air." The product does have Hawaiian
air in it. It's bottled on Maui, after all. |
Crazy as it sounds, there is some logic behind Farmer's creation. For years, he worked as a flight supervisor for Continental Airlines, taking passengers from Portland to Honolulu each week.
"I noticed passengers always talked about how much they miss the air in Hawai'i, the smell of flowers," Farmer says. "It's the first thing they smell when they get off the plane and the last thing they smell when they get back on."
The clincher for Farmer was a chapter in the book Chicken Soup from the Soul of Hawai'i. "My wife and I were on a beach in Maui, and I read [TV mogul] Al Masini's story," Farmer says. "He said he wished he could bottle Hawaiian air like Evian water and send it home. I looked at my wife and said, 'Well, why can't you bottle Hawaiian air?' She told me to shut up, but I did it anyway."
Farmer hired a chemist to concoct various scents: plumeria, pikake and, as we went to press, ginger was in the works. Farmer began selling the stuff online (www.purehawaiianair.com) and at Maui specialty stores, for $6 a bottle. Customers snatched up about 2,400 bottles within two months.
Farmer seems to specialize in the unexpected. He made a name for himself in his hometown of Portland, Ore., with a trail mix called Gov. K's Budget Crunchies; Tonya Hot Sauce, named for the infamous figure skater; and Jail Blazer Jam, which poked fun at the drug scandals involving some local basketball players.
"With Pure Hawaiian Air, I'm not making fun of anybody, but it's a fun product," Farmer says. "If you're in Chicago in January, you can smell Hawaiian air and you're back here momentarily. It sounds crazy, but people have bought pet rocks. And those were just crazy enough to work."
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