“The inspiration for the name was, I was working out of my grandmother’s house on Paiko Beach. It was just kind of an homage to my neighborhood, where I’m from. Giving gratitude to her for letting me use that space and get my business going.”
With a background in landscape architecture, Tamara Rigney wasn’t supposed to be doing this. But the co-owner and creative director of Paiko always had a love for exploring the jungles and trails, looking for tropical plants. She began doing flower arrangements for weddings and corporate accounts out of her grandmother’s home. And when she needed help, she called on a friend.
“I leave all the floral arranging and designing up to Tamara. At Paiko, I’m more of the plant lady. I’ve always had plants growing up.”
Courtney Monahan is the co-owner and shop manager at Paiko. Tamara met her when she was dating a friend of Courtney’s. While Tamara’s relationship with Courtney’s friend didn’t last, their friendship did.
In December, 2012, Tamara opened Paiko in Our Kaka‘ako in an effort to expand her workspace, create a retail shop, and to create a gathering place for workshops. Tamara and Courtney were one of the founding makers of the neighborhood.
Tamara: “There was so much energy in the neighborhood back then. And there still is. It’s just everything was a lot rawer. We just kind of fed off of each other’s energy.”
It was a lot of hard work. Tamara and Courtney began to learn how difficult it was to start and sustain a business in Hawai‘i where shipping costs and materials weren’t cheap. But their partnership helped them get through it. While Tamara focused on design, Courtney focused on the day-to-day logistics.
Tamara: “We complement each other.”
Courtney: “When you look at a plant you see the design of it.”
Tamara: “And Courtney figures out how to make it live. (laughs)”
Courtney: “Tamara makes it beautiful and I make sure it’s watered. (laughs)”
But Tamara and Courtney didn’t want to run a traditional flower shop. They created flower arrangements with an eye for modern design. They introduced experimental designs like woodland terrariums, staghorn ferns and kokedama balls. And most importantly, they ran community workshops that educated people about plants.
Courtney: “It’s really easy to sell someone something cool, but to have them actually in the shop making it with their hands and being able to have a conversation about how they’re going to care for it is really crucial.”
As for being one of the founding makers of the Our Kaka‘ako community, they’re grateful for the support.
Courtney: “It hasn’t only helped us grow, it helped us be. We were able to see what needs people had because we had such great community support from the beginning. People were coming in and almost thanking us for being there.”
Today, Paiko is growing. They’ve completely renovated the store with a new workshop area. They’ve added a coffee bar hosted by Brue Bar. They’re also bringing in new merchandise focusing on urban gardening. They’re even thinking about taking people on exploration hikes to find their own plants and wildflowers. It’s an exciting time in their evolution.
Tamara: “In a far away part of my mind I always did envision a store like this. But I didn’t think it would happen so soon. It’s like this far away dream that came to life.”
KOKEDAMA BALL DIY
Get crafty with the Kokedama Ball. Download the instructions below, post your creation, hashtag #meetourmakers and get entered to win a $50 Paiko gift card.
Winners will be announced the second week of November.
- Many people tried to convince Tamara to call it "Paiko Studios" but she preferred the cleaner and simpler, "Paiko."
- Tamara graduated from Kalani High School. Courtney graduated from Kaiser High School.
- As a child, Courtney wanted to be a hair stylist. As she grew older, she wanted to join the Peace Corps.
- Tamara still does flower arrangements for weddings and corporate accounts. Courtney also teaches pilates.
675 Auahi Street
Honolulu, HI 96813