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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, August 20, 2007

Sending off your suitcase with aloha

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Island Ties sell for about $13 at Longs Drugs, Kmart and Don Quijote stores as well as the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange.

Photos by NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Barbara Wallace

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Island Ties luggage straps look like a lei for your suitcase, making it easier to identify.

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It's happened to each of us at some time, in some faraway airport, in a post-flight fog. We grab the wrong suitcase from the conveyor belt, only to have an angry fellow passenger pounce on us. But, but, but ... it looks just like mine, we whine.

Barbara Wallace, a familiar face from her TV anchor days with KHNL, KHON and KITV, got tired of trying to recognize her luggage (black, black and more black) on the airline baggage belts and decided to do something about it.

She came up with the concept of a luggage strap that looks like a lei for your suitcase. "It screams, 'I'm from Hawai'i,' " she said with a chuckle. It's also a great way for visitors to remember their Island vacation, or a gift for locals who have moved to the Mainland but want a reminder of home.

Having spent her life in the news business and having never been an entrepreneur, Wallace had no idea what she was getting into or how to go about developing a product and putting it on the market. She knew what she wanted, however, and insisted on top quality.

Wallace spent two years experimenting with fabrics, buckles and fasteners to produce Island Ties, a high-quality luggage strap that also acts as a luggage tag. The result is a sturdy strap that expands up to 72 inches and is two inches wide, employing sturdy plastic clips and Velcro as fasteners.

In a stroke of luck, she met Kesli Tengan, a graphic designer with www.faithgraphics.biz. Tengan created four distinctive lei designs.

Wallace took Island Ties around to several mass retailers, and they loved it and placed orders immediately, offering to fast-track it into their local outlets. Longs Drugs, Kmart, Don Quijote and the Navy Exchange at Pearl Harbor expect to have Island Ties in their stores this week. Retail price is around $13.

With a lei for your luggage, it should be easier to identify your bag in the future. That is, until the rest of the world discovers Island Ties.

Reach Paula Rath at paularath@aol.com.