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Caroline was famous for her unique and beautiful sense of style! For our expos, she was usually dressed in muumuu that she had sewn, cowboy boots, lei and holiday jewelry, all topped with an elegant hat.

Even vendors and shoppers who have been with us for years often are surprised to learn that Caroline spent more than 20 years as clothing designer and mass-production seamstress. Under her highly successful Caroline-Hawaii brand, she sewed and sold children's clothing, bags and dolls.

Caroline's "sewing room," circa 1969 — the parlor of our tiny apartment in Liliha — was crammed full of industrial sewing machines, mountains of fabric and sewing supplies, and racks of her finished products ready for sale: beautiful children's clothing, bags and dolls.


Caroline had many talents! Among them, she was a concert-level pianist, and during the expo, she would often jump on her keyboard and play for our expo goers!

Caroline's story

To say that Caroline M. Infante founded the Islandwide Crafts & Food Expo in 1987 is to describe only a sliver of her extraordinary journey as a gifted artisan, devoted wife and mother, and pioneering businesswoman.

In the late 1960s, Caroline was a new wife who was just starting a family with her beloved husband, Raymond. When Caroline decided that she did not want to leave her babies behind for work, she concluded that the answer was to devise a career of her own that would allow her to work from home.


So starting in 1968 Caroline began scaling up the sewing skills she'd been honing since her teen years: She began teaching herself to become a clothing designer and mass-production seamstress. She squeezed huge industrial sewing machines into the family's tiny duplex apartment in Liliha. The whole apartment became her "sewing room," with cloth bolts stacked against the walls and overflowing from shelves, the machines rattling and roaring through the night and into the dawn. Caroline handled every aspect of her Caroline-Hawaii brand herself, personally designing, manufacturing and selling her whimsical and popular children's clothing, bags and dolls. For more than 20 years Caroline forged a successful career by bringing her products to swap meets, craft fairs and trade shows, with her husband and four children working at her side. 


So it was a leap of faith when Caroline applied to produce her first craft fair at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. With the strong reputation and credibility Caroline had built over her years of paying her dues as a craft vendor, she was able to persuade 175 of her fellow crafters to try the new show, in an indoor trade show setting — and the 1st Islandwide Handcrafters Christmas Fair, as it was called then, launched in 1987. The 14,000 shoppers who attended that very first show proved its success, and Caroline was initiated as a craft fair director,


Today the annual Islandwide Crafts & Food Expo is among the most popular crafts showcases in the state, drawing hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of customers for shopping on Black Friday weekend every year for over three decades and counting. Food & Wine magazine, the respected international publication, named the Islandwide Crafts & Food Expo as Hawaii's best holiday market in 2019, and did so again in its next update in 2022. Our expo has been covered routinely by Hawaii News Now, KHON2, KITV, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and other media. Caroline herself became so synonymous with the Islandwide Crafts & Food Expo that veteran vendors and shoppers to this day still refer to it not by its formal title, but as "Caroline's fair."

Despite the expo's massive growth, Caroline always kept it a family small business, in both its structure and philosophy. Her endearing, local-style charm permeated everything, from her homespun, handmade ads ... to her penchant for giving her vendors her personal advice about business and customer service via her mailouts and opening-day speeches ... to jumping on her portable piano to play music for her shoppers and vendors on expo days in the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall ... to closing all of her TV commercials by appearing in her trademark muumuu and elegant hat while offering her sweetly grateful wave and smile.

Because Caroline had spent so many years as a vendor, she was always focused on creating enjoyable and cost-effective sales opportunities for her vendors — offering some of the lowest fee schedules among shows at the Blaisdell Center, yet a commitment to wide publicity and high production quality.

Caroline was also focused on making the Islandwide Crafts & Food Expo into a shopper's delight. It is held in the Blaisdell Center’s air-conditioned comfort, with hundreds of Hawaii’s top crafters under one roof. Shoppers can select from thousands of exquisite, original and affordable handmade crafts, and such delicious locally made foods as pasteles, cookies and fresh strawberry mochi, and enjoy entertainment, delightful games and giveaways. Caroline always emphasized to her vendors and staff that they should give their utmost to their shoppers. “We must treat them like royalty," she said. "We have no business without them.”

Our family celebrated 30 years of the Islandwide Crafts & Food Expo with a beautiful cake from Toni B., our dear family friend who also happens to be our TV commercial videographer.

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