Local Artist Spotlight: Paiko Founder Tamara Rigney
The budding talent spills about flower foraging, mom jeans and how she creates those oh-so-gorgeous arrangements.
The succulent colony taking over your desk. Your pet monstera. Your haku lei obsession. It’s no coincidence that your life got a whole lot greener when Paiko opened back in 2012.
That’s just what floral designer Tamara Rigney intended when she left her career in landscape architecture to found the little botanical boutique in Kaka‘ako, filling it with beautiful blooms that wooed even the blackest thumbs into leafy submission and reignited passions for Island flora.
She fueled floral fixations even further with the book ‘Ohi, her guide to making gorgeous arrangements using fresh picks from one’s own backyard. Next to blossom? Mei Day, Rigney’s recently rebranded floral design studio, already brightening events and spaces around town with her stunning tropical creations.
Photo: Harold Julian
Hometown: Honolulu (‘Āina Haina)
What first sparked your interest in floral design?
I’ve always loved flowers. As a kid I would obsess over making lei and memorize the names of every plant I saw. I didn’t really start playing with arranging until after college though.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My designs are always evolving, but I gravitate toward loose and organic forms with lots of texture. I use primarily local materials and sometimes supplement with spring flowers for depth and richness. My favorite way to design is to take clippings from something cool growing on the side of the road, then add layers of flowers from the farms.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Nature, art and in the clarity I find when out surfing or on a run.
What was the impetus for starting Mei Day?
After a few years of doing flowers out of my grandma’s garage, I turned that into the botanical boutique Paiko in Kaka‘ako with my close friend Courtney Monahan. Paiko was the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m so grateful for the family I’ve found in Kaka‘ako, but after a couple of years I realized that I again needed my own outlet for floral design. I wanted to go back to floral design as an art, and the pressure, overhead and constant social interactions of a retail space were hard for me. I thrive off the energy of people, but need solitude to be in a true creative state. Starting Mei Day was a godsend because I am still able to be involved with Paiko as an owner-creative director, but have an outlet for independence and quiet creativity.
– Tamara Rigney.
What is a typical work day for you?
It’s always different, but often it’s walking across the street to ARS café (I joke that it’s my office) for coffee and a few hours of computer work before heading into Paiko for meetings with my business partner Courtney and walking over to my Mei Day space at Lana Lane Studios to create flowers for clients, then escaping for some outdoor time at the end of the day.
How would you describe your personal style?
Functional but cute.
What does your everyday/work outfit look like?
Mom jeans, a worn tee, interesting earrings and slides.
Do you have any favorite fashion brands/designers?
Levi’s jeans and jackets, Kule tees and Eileen Fisher shoes—all are cut well, comfortable and durable. I actually don’t love shopping so it’s nice to find things that work and stick with them.
What are your fashion splurges?
Great pants—I love Ulla Johnson.
What do you love most about your work?
I get to hang out with my best friends, play with flowers and make people happy.
What should we keep an eye out for from you next?
I have a few side projects in the works and am just now marinating on ideas for other another book. Mostly though, I’m focusing on our Paiko delivery program and taking Mei Day to the next level creatively.
Tamara wears: Raquel Allegra tank, $276, Giada Forte pants, $450. We Are Iconic, 1108 Auahi St. #155, (808) 462-4575. Escada trench, $1,805, Oscar de la Renta earrings, $350. Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center, (808) 951-8887. Five Petite Bar necklace in 14K rose gold, $180, Zig Zag pave diamond ring in 14K rose gold, $200. atthecoop.com.
Creative Direction: James Nakamura
Art Direction: Louis Scheer
Hair and Makeup: Kecia Littman
Hair and Makeup Assistant: Helena Blacker
Location: 1013 Integrated