Handmade in Hawaii: Kahili Creations

Kahili Creations
Marcia Asuncion Ricchiuti

FROM COAST TO CREATIVE COAST

Getting her professional start in LA’s entertainment industry and moving on to web development proved fortuitous for Marcia Asuncion Ricchiuti. When it was time to launch her jewelry business, she knew how to maximize her impact from the get-go. Taking inspiration from the colors of the ocean, lava flows and flowers that grace her adopted home of the Big Island, Marcia’s designs revel in the delicate and fragile beauty of nature. Needless to say, we wanted to learn more.

GETTING TO KNOW MARCIA

How do you introduce yourself at parties?
Um, actually I’m hiding in a corner because I’m an introvert! But, if I have to, basically I just say “I’m Marcia” because where I live in rural Puna, on the east side of Hawaii, nobody asks anybody what they do.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you become a jewelry designer?
I went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising right out of high school. But I ended up not being in fashion because it paid too low. So I decided to intern at an entertainment P/R company and ended up getting a job there. I was in the music industry for a long time, and went into web development. Then my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Hawaii after coming here on vacation. So I was retired, you could say, for several years. I decided that I needed to make some “mad” money. Starting up a jewelry business was a relatively low cost and I had done it to support my international traveling when I was working. So I just went back to that and it sort of snowballed from there.

How did you choose the name Kahili Creations?
My favorite flower here is the Kahili ginger. They smell amazing and have beautiful colors. And (Kahili) has the interesting meaning of the feather standard for the royals. Sort of like a coat of arms.

Marcia in her workshopShop Kahili Creations

You use all sorts of materials, like vintage glass, crystals and gemstones. Do you have a favorite?
I’m wax carving right now (for) my new line that’s coming out. So right now, it’s jeweler’s wax. But for (what) I’m designing now, it’s metal. I love working with it; hand-forming my ear wires, hammering and drilling… I’m a tool-kind of girl. And I love grinding and putting on my safety goggles.

You like to work in petite and delicate shapes, though they’re sometimes juxtaposed with larger forms (like your crystal dagger necklaces). Any plans to expand and experiment with that aesthetic?
I am, and with the new line, I’m actually doing two versions of things: a delicate one and a bold one. My own personal aesthetic is delicate; things people can wear every day that aren’t going to distract in the boardroom but are still fun, and still have some meaning.

How has your jewelry evolved since Kahili Creations’ inception?
When I started out, I was using all commercial components. As I’ve evolved, I started making my own things – like ear wires – because I want the earring to hang at a certain length, or to be shaped like a lotus flower, or be more angular or soft. The biggest jump was delving into 3-D modeling: making prototypes from precious metal clay and electroplating. We are going to start casting here, and that’s going to be an adventure.

What advice would you give to people out there following their own artistic endeavors?
Persevere! And be prepared for a lot of hard work. I work longer hours than anybody in an office. And it’s important to have a support system. My husband is extremely supportive and always has been. I actually have a jewelry friend that lives here, and we meet every 2 weeks and bounce ideas and trade information.

You live in one of our favorite places to relax, but we want to know where you like to go to kick back, either in Hawaii or beyond.
My favorite place to go relax is a place called Kaimū. It’s a quick little hike over hardened lava, and you get to this really beautiful beach, and it’s really quiet, and the waves are crashing and the sea mist is going... and sometimes it’s pouring rain, but I don’t care. And the quiet place in my head – my happy place – is snorkeling Mo'orea in the South Pacific.

What’s one thing you’d like people to know about Hawaii that they might not already know?
Da Poke Shack! It’s delicious and my mouth is watering right now just thinking about the place. It’s a 5-hour round-trip drive, but (my husband and I have) made a special trip, and we went to one location for lunch and the other one for dinner. It’s that good.

What's your favorite thing about Tommy Bahama?
I want to say the brand is me. I LOVE Tommy Bahama clothes. I love the linen – I live in linen. The whole casual “aloha Friday” feel encompasses everything that living in Hawaii should be.

We’re delighted to bring our guests closer to Hawaii with Kahili Creations. Shop the collection here.