With its glittering new Waikiki store at International Market Place 2.0 just opened, Saks Fifth Avenue Hawaii continues its campaign to become part of the island’s social fabric as the first ever presenting sponsor of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s annual gala Kama‘aina Christmas. Vice president and general manager of Saks Fifth Avenue Hawaii Shelley Tadaki Cramer was born and raised in Honolulu. After a high-powered career at brands such as Louis Vuitton and Max Mara—and most recently Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco—she returned home a retail hero to take her dream job. A firm believer in the importance of art, she answered a few questions for the HoMA blog.

Lesa Griffith: I read that you wanted to make Saks Fifth Avenue in Waikīkī welcoming to local customers, and part of that was including art by local artists in the store. Were you able to do that—and why do you feel art is part of that equation?
Shelley Tadaki Cramer: Yes! I am thrilled that I was able to partner with Kelly Sueda [a museum trustee] who provided the store with artwork from local artists in the community. I felt it was extremely important to marry the Saks Fifth Avenue brand with the Spirit of Aloha. I believe this feeling of “Aloha” is expressed through the local artwork featured throughout the store, as well as through the architectural features of natural Hawai‘i elements that were incorporated in the store’s design.

We heard you have Hawai‘i-born, New York–based painter Sean Yoro coming to do a mural for Saks Hawaii. How did you select him, where will the mural be, and will it be one of his trademark women?
Yes, we’re excited to have Sean back in Hawai‘i to work on this special mural for Saks Hawaii. Our visual team was familiar with Sean and introduced him to our New York office and they immediately embraced the idea of collaborating with a local artist. As part of company culture, Saks feels it’s important to think outside the box. Partnering with the right people is key to making sure the store reflects the uniqueness of the local culture and neighborhoods in which we do business. Sean will be painting the mural in the private lanai on the third floor and will take over one of the walls of the Fifth Avenue Club International Lounge. He starts on Monday, Dec. 5th and finishes on Friday, Dec. 9th. We anticipate the mural being up long term. And yes, the rendering that we’ve seen is of a woman.

You selected the Honolulu Museum of Art as Saks’ local charity partner (thanks!)—of all the worthwhile nonprofits in Hawai‘i, what about HoMA made it the right choice for Saks?
STC: The Honolulu Museum of Art seemed like a perfect partnership for the Saks Hawaii store as we feel its history and legacy ties in perfectly with the historical setting of the location of the store. The arts is also something that the company supports across the country.

From the cascade of glass balls in the shoe department to the artful displays of minimalist mannequins holding signs sporting designers’ names, the new Saks Fifth Avenue has an artful feel. Talk about the visual strategy for the store.
STC: It was extremely important for Saks Fifth Avenue to incorporate a cultural Hawaiian feel to the store. Throughout the store you will see golden columns representing the magnificent trees of Hawai‘i with crystals cascading from them signifying rain drops from the sky. We also have a beautiful waterfall that is in the interior and exterior of the building—it represents Saks bringing the island’s natural elements into the store.

Do you think art experiences for children are important? If yes, why?
Absolutely! I believe any form of art plays an important part of the creative and expressive development of a child.

The museum is excited that Saks Fifth Avenue is the first presenting sponsor of its gala Kama‘aina Christmas, which turns 31 this year. How will Saks’ presence be felt at the event?
We are thrilled and honored to be the first presenting sponsor for Kama‘aina Christmas. I believe our presence has been felt since our partnership began back in August. Saks Hawaii has partnered with the museum and its members on many levels since our grand opening and I can say that everyone that we have touched has been truly gracious and supportive.


Special thanks to Saks Fifth Avenue Hawaii and all of our corporate donors who make it possible for the museum to connect people with great art. To learn more about corporate partnership opportunities at the museum click here.