Mermaid, Christmas, and pirates do business

PO‘IPU — There was something about that black shirt that made Kaleia Valin stand out in the crowd at the Kauai Products Council craft fair over the weekend.

Lori Ornellas of Mermaid Productions said it was because she was such a lively girl, and the pair were seen chatting together over the creation of “Take off your shoes” signs using discarded, broken flippers.

That was only one area of conversation for the lively pair, as Valin was also relishing the aroma of the Hawaiian salt being offered for sale by Ornellas.

“I have lots of them that we found,” Valin offered to Ornellas. “I’ll make sure you get them. I have at least seven, and they’re all in boxes.”

Or, was it the fact that Amy Christmas, a crafter of containers featuring local flora, pointed out that Valin, at 9 years old, was the creator of her own jewelry and other semi-precious-stone offerings at the craft fair, sharing a space with her mother a couple of aisles down in one of two tents housing a wide variety of vendors.

“My dad is a pirate,” Valin piped in. “When the boat was sinking, the only thing he took was trousers and shoes. I could think of other things to take.” The young, lively voice trailed off as she rushed off to tend to her table, where customers were accumulating. Emblazoned on the front of her shirt were the words, “I (heart) love pirates.”

A student at the Kauai Christian Academy in Kilauea, Valin pointed out that the items in her section adjoining her mother’s table use real stones that she got from the Mainland, pointing to a turquoise piece and saying confidently and in a businesslike voice, “It came from Arizona.”

Among her creations were night lights utilizing a variety of different-colored stones that would emit light in the color of the host stone. Each one was inscribed with “Kaua‘i” on it, a memento of the place visitors were visiting, and shopping.

Small boxes created out of more stones took up one area of her small display space, Valin explaining in that business tone, “These are soapstone. Do you know what soapstone is?”

An assortment of bracelets and necklaces created out of a variety of semi-precious stones and beads took up the remainder of her tiny display space, but the attractive price tags kept stopping people who admired before digging in for that extra change.

Valin was sharing the table with her mom Katie of Alo Kele. Katie said she works with semi-precious gems from the Mainland, and combines her jewelry with freshwater pearls to offer a variety of attractive, yet-reasonably-priced items for customers.

Katie explained that Kaleia’s dad is a tugboat pilot who works out of O‘ahu, piloting tugs carrying supplies to various Pacific Islands.

This is probably where the notion of “pirate” came from. Or, was it the shirt that nudged the youngster’s mind into the realm of pirates and treasures?

Katie said they’ve been on Kaua‘i for just about a year and a half, and making and selling jewelry since their arrival here.

Their jewelry is only available at craft fairs, and Kaleia is quick to interject, “We’ve done about a hundred fairs already.

“Or, at least it feels like we’ve done about a hundred fairs,” the youngster added to her earlier statement as she settled back into her business posture.

 Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


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