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Kaye Fawcett delivers Fine Linens & Furnishings in Honolulu

Honolulu - Kaye Fawcett's customers used to come to her.  Now, she goes to them.

It's a different way of running her longtime luxury linens retail business, Fine Linens & Furnishings, here in Hawaii's capital.

But as she explained to HTT recently, the new concept works - especially for the island state's high-end market.

"I love my business now. It gives me the opportunity to spend time with clients and help them put together a look for a room in a more personal way," said Fawcett, who this year marks her 10th anniversary in business.

"And many times, it leads to other business for me," she continued. "My client may come to me for help with one room, and then she may want to move onto another room.
"There is always an opportunity for other sales when you are in the home. And it is also just a very comfortable and easy way to do business with clients."

Along with the anniversary of her business, 2013 will also represent for Fawcett her 10th year in textiles.

"It began as a passion. Textiles is a passion for me," she said.

Fawcett started out doing some sourcing of products and "keeping very good notes."

As she explained, "Living in Hawaii, it was the only way to do it. It's not like I'm living in New York City and I can run on over to the garment district to see new fabrics. I had to learn to source."

A quick study, Fawcett knew she was ready to open shop when a small retail space became available.

"I decided to test the market, and opened my very first store," she sad. "I brought in different things -- high end bedding, Egyptian cotton sheets and only first-quality European linens. Nothing from China."

Her shop was in the second floor of a small, storefront building located in "an area that was ahead of its time."

No matter.

"Little by little the word got out that I was here, and my business started to grow. In Hawaii, there really aren't fine linens shops," she said.

Encouraged by growing demand two years into her business, she set out to find a larger, more central site for her store.

Soon, she found it at the upscale and open-to-the-public Gentry Pacific Design Center. A 2,300-square-foot showroom and store for her bedding and bath linens, the shop got much traction from an international assortment of designers, decorators, and upscale shoppers.

"The design center was a very good fit for me," Fawcett explained. "And it was incredible opportunity for me because the people who shopped there were my clients."

But five years into it, Fawcett started considering her options for growing and evolving the business.

"My lease ran out and I did not want to open another retail store. Even the design center was changing - they were changing their tenants, and today while there may be a handful still there, the building has new owners," she said.

Keenly aware that her client base is "very service oriented," Fawcett came up with a new strategy.

"I figured I could personalize my business even more if I did it myself," she said.

And that is how Fawcett has been doing it for the past year.

"I talk to my clients on phone, get a feel for what they want, we make an appointment to meet, I come by to assess what she has and likes, I take notes, and then I return with a batch of goods I think she will like," Fawcett explained. "She decides on what she wants, I place the order or orders, and when merchandise arrives to my office, I personally deliver it and make the beds for her myself."

In sum: "I'm a one-woman show. And I love it."

She operates from a spacious and well-appointed home office stocked with samples and products to show to clients, and she works closely with a showroom in town that she often uses to meet with clients to see products and exchange ideas.

"My customer is very high end with appreciation of the finer things, and what I offer form my store is not over the top. It is livable elegance. I do not carry upscale, I carry understated elegance," she said. "Let's not forget, this is Hawaii."

Fawcett said her trademark color is sage green, and her design preferences are textural and tonal.

The brands she carries include Sferra, Anali, Abyss & Habidecor, Traditions by Pamela Kline, Anachini, Ann Gish, and others.

She also offers what she calls her "Signature" bedding collection, made of silk and custom-made in Hawaii by a seamstress who has partnered with Fawcett for the exclusive program.

"The seamstress I work with can make custom sheets and lines," she noted. "And any custom work my clients need is all made here in Honolulu."

Because she no longer has the overhead from operating a retail store unit, Fawcett said her prices are reduced.

Fawcett's own Signature silk bedding line runs in price from $500 for a pillow through $2,500 for the full ensemble.

Egyptian cotton sheets 800TC to 1,200TC retail for $1,000 to $3,500

And for that special final touch, Fawcett said she never delivers her products "just thrown in a bag."

Following suit with her practices from her former store, Fawcett wraps each item gently and attractively in sage-green tissue, wraps it with a sage-green ribbon, and tucks it into her own company bag.

"Everything that leaves my office is wrapped and has a nice presentation," she urged. "It's all about giving your customer the best service, and I always try to do that."

 

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