In Hawaii, the act of giving flowers is a very common gesture to show friendship, love, appreciation, and congratulations. Most often these flowers are arranged in a Lei to wear around the neck or Lei Po’o to wear as a crown, giving the appearance of royalty.
Flower crowns have found their way into fashion through weddings, music festivals, and runway shows recognized for bringing out the natural beauty of a person adorned in one. Pamakane's personally crafted flower crowns exquisitely express this and in mastering this traditional art she has developed a rich form that is distinctively her own.
In fact, each year Coachella specifically requests Pamakane to set-up shop and sell her flower crowns. She has received personal phone-calls from fashion designers, brands, and fashion icons like Sincerely Jules, who tell her they are blown away by her work. And she has styled major photoshoots ranging from Victoria’s Secret to having her own feature with Billabong.
Pamakane is a Lei artist, wedding florist, mother, and free spirit; it was wonderful to catchup with my old surf-sister:
Q: Where did your love for flower arranging begin?
Pamakane: I learned the art of flower arranging from my mother, Donna Pico. She started as a lei maker on the small island of Molokai. We eventually moved to Maui where she started her own business and shop; I worked there fulltime making leis and arrangements.
Q: What made you stick with this art-form?
Pamakane: Put simply, it makes me happy. A Lei involves gathering flowers from the land, so when you give a lei it is sharing the love of the land, a love for each other, and the Aloha spirit. When you receive or give a lei to someone it is very special.
Q: Leis and flower arranging have been part of Hawaiian culture for centuries, but you brought something new…
Pamakane: After moving to Oahu, I was no longer in the flower arranging business. One of my friends knew that I could make leis and asked me to make a few for her photoshoot. The leis that I made were very unique, using more exotic flowers and weaving them in a more intricate way. By word of mouth, I started getting more custom requests like this to the point that it was clear that “I should do this."
Q: Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.
Pamakane: Anytime someone puts on a lei that brings a smile to his or her face it makes me happy! You mentioned Coachella; I setup a stand back in 2014. It was one of a kind because each person got to choose their own flowers and I made the crown right there in front of them. It was a lot of work, but it was so fun. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith bought one for his girlfriend?…lol or woman he was with…and also Kourtney Kardashian!
Q: Any last words for those that are starting new ventures and/or pursuing their art and passions?
Pamakane: Follow your dreams and go for it…no one else is going to do it for you. If I hadn’t pushed forward and believed in myself, I wouldn’t have had the experiences that I can speak of today. Rejection is scary, but it’s about believing in it, taking the risk, and putting yourself out there until it feels good.
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