6 Questions With the Woman Behind Local Brand Love + Monsters Hawai‘i
Life as a mom and business owner is big-time work with little time to kid around for designer Richie Calizar.
When her daughter was born in 2011, the University of Hawai‘i alum started making baby booties and monster dolls. Soon after, family, friends and social media followers wanted their own. Five years later, when her second child began preschool, she decided to turn Love + Monsters into a full-time gig—adding kid fashions, housewares and, most recently, adult clothing. We caught up with Calizar to talk parent life, what’s new for summer and why (the hell!) she’s still a one-woman show.
HONOLULU Magazine: Can you give a Cliffs Notes version of Love + Monsters?
Richie Calizar: Love + Monsters Hawai‘i is handmade wearable art. Everything is hand dyed, hand embroidered, cut, sewn and designed in-house by me. It was named after my daughter who was a big baby and nicknamed Monster.
HM: You do everything yourself?
RC: I want everything made in Hawai‘i, and want to keep my prices down. I believe really good seamstresses should be paid well. Hiring help will force me to raise my prices. Also, the only way I can guarantee high-quality work is if I do every step myself. Plus, I enjoy the creative process and connecting with my customers.
HM: How do you get everything done?
RC: Not going to lie. It’s VERY hard. A lot of late nights and discipline is required. I’m very involved with my kids and attend their sport and school events. I work while they’re in school and when they’re sleeping. It’s challenging but very rewarding every time I complete an order.
HM: And you just released two new collections?
RC: In spring, I created a girls’ line using Japanese crinkle cut cotton. It was my first time exploring with Japanese fabrics—you can tell the difference in quality. It sold out instantly, so I ordered more fabric. I’ll be debuting my summer collection at this month’s HiSAM fashion show. The prints and styles are a little bit vintage-meets-modern. It’s my first solo show ever and the first time I have products to dress an entire family!
Girls’ crinkle cotton dress, $60.
HM: Sweet! Any other details you can share about the show?
RC: This is my first run of prints that I created myself. I’m super excited. The Retro Aloha and Boulders prints will be featured on men’s and boys’ aloha shirts. The Streams print will be used for women’s and girls’ clothing. I’ll also have women’s hand-dyed linen pieces and girls’ hand-dyed crinkle cotton styles. Everything will be available for sale after the show.
HM: And, if people can’t make the show?
RC: Select pieces will be at both locations of Mori by Art + Flea. Everything else will be available on my website.
Love + Monsters Hawai‘i fashion show: Friday, June 7, 7 p.m., Hawai‘i State Art Museum, 250 S. Hotel St.