In November of 2015 for Honolulu Fashion Week we participated alongside a group of other local designers in an upcycling project with Hawaiian Airlines. The challenge was to transform their airplane seat fabric into fashion. I absolutely loved the travel tote that we created, and hoped that it would spark some kind of interest in the team over at Hawaiian. I heard that they liked the design, but nothing more came of it. The next year at Fashion week we took on a huge challenge; participating in a live Pitch Panel competition at the event. In my pitch I talked about how I wished to move my business beyond the creation of bags and accessories and into more design-based licensing ventures. I told the audience that I wanted to see my prints “on planes, trains and automobiles,” and up on the screen flashed a photograph of a Hawaiian Airline’s airplane with my graphics superimposed on it. It was a pie in the sky dream, and still is, but I had no idea that a few years later I would be contacted by Hawaiian to collaborate with them. In June of last year (2019) we designed and produced a limited edition tote for Hawaiian, which they handed out for free at Honolulu Night Market. The line to get one went down the street around several corners at SALT in Kakaako. 30-45 minutes later all 1,000 totes were in the hands of their new owners. Then in late November, around Thanksgiving, at Kahala Mall we handed out a second round of 1,000 totes (this time with a new design), to HawaiianMiles Mastercard holders. And that same day I announced some huge news: JANA LAM had become an official HawaiianMiles Marketplace Partner, which means that Hawaiian Airlines Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard holders can earn bonus miles when making purchases at our shop and online. I couldn’t have been more proud and happy to be a part of their special ohana; and in some sense realize a dream that I had had for many years.
Flash forward to mid February, 2020 and I am standing at a wall on Cooke Street in Kakaako, in downtown Honolulu. I see a man that I don’t know, a short distance away. My friend whispers to me before he gets within earshot, “that’s Brad Watanabe.” So immediately I think to myself, oh boy, something cool is about to go down. He introduces himself to me, and explains that he will be shooting a video for a HawaiianMiles Partner Series. This was news to me because I hadn’t heard anything about it from Hawaiian. But Brad, as I would quickly come to realize, is a very thoughtful and thorough person. He did his research ahead of time, found out that I was participating in POWWOWWORLDWIDE (see my blog on that experience), and before HA even had a chance to get in touch with me, he came out to meet me and my team and shoot us in action, painting the mural. I am grateful to Brad and his team for capturing and including that event and creating an amazing video that encompasses my entire journey as a business owner and a brand. And of course I owe a huge mahalo to Hawaiian Airlines for making this all happen. Our partnership with them coupled with the video, means the world to me.
I hope you will take a little time to watch it and hear our story.
Photo Credits: Brad Watanabe
Jana Lam is a Honolulu, Hawaii based design company that focuses on products and accessories for an endless summer. Lam's beach front home once served as the production house of her handmade in Hawaii line of one-of-a-kind, hand-printed and sewn apparel and home accessories. In Fall 2017, printing and production moved out of the home studio, and the Jana Lam Studio + Shop was opened in Kaka'ako.