Honolulu's Power Couples

Together these couples find strength in numbers in life and work. Get an inside view of local shop owners and designers who frequently throw around the other powerful four-letter word.

Photos: Olivier Koning

Vers Hawaii

Many people describe Matt and Roxy Ortiz as “the sweetest couple you’ll ever meet!” They met in a painting class eight years ago and, five years later, on one of their far-flung adventures in Bali, Matt popped the question as they were riding high atop an elephant. “It made it hard for Roxy to say no,” jokes Matt. “She had nowhere to run.” Since then, the artsy pair has been throwing every ounce of their creativity into their brand, Vers Hawaii.

Nature and surf figure in many of their hand-drawn designs, with sustainability at the forefront of each project. Organic T-shirts, note cards and wall prints feature whimsical custom illustrations of origami shakas, cruisers made of taro leaves and Hawaiian owls, which are available at the duo’s cozy, home-like studio space.

327 Lana Lane, vershawaii.com.


Hound & Quail

Jet-setting, good-looking pilot meets charmingly handsome artist in a haunted house. They fall in love and open up one of the coolest shops in
Honolulu. Mark Pei (left) snags vintage finds on stopovers, while Travis Flazer (right) hunts down rare taxidermy animal heads and mounted antlers when on break from his job on the production design team for Punahou School’s theater department.

Styled like your eccentric, rich uncle’s attic, the shop’s latest big finds include a Herman Miller bench in tangerine, a stainless steel autopsy table and a 1960s two-seater couch. Decades’ worth of small-ticket items also live throughout the store, including old-school cameras, an art deco microphone and a 1930s typewriter. According to Pei, many of the museum-worthy goods sell out as soon as they hit the floor. Which means hounding the store isn’t a bad idea.

1400 Kapiolani Blvd., 779-8436.


Florencia Arias

“I gave up watching football for her,” admits Todd Nordstrom, husband of designer Florencia Arias. For most guys, this would be Sunday suicide, but they’re not married to an Argentinean bombshell who runs a successful business and household.

From building Arias’ ideal boutique in an unheard-of three weeks, to being the first to critique her newest collections, Nordstrom, an architectural designer, is Arias’ biggest fan and supporter. And he knows the brand’s success is completely due to his wife’s creativity, dedication and drive. “I love to come out with a new collection each season,” says Arias. “Sometimes it’s challenging, but I want to keep my designs new and fresh.”

That means an innovative progression of tropical-chic prints, including the newest graphic, a palm-leaf pattern from the Resort 2014 line, on which Arias and Nordstrom collaborated. “Over the years we’ve learned to listen to each other,” says Arias, “and we take criticism constructively, not personally.”

1161 Nuuanu Ave., 384-9039.