Made with aloha: Artists and vendors at Comic-Con Honolulu 2017

If you know me, you know I have an abiding love for entrepreneurs. There's something magical about seeing someone take his or her unique talent and share it with the world. Sure, there were plenty of stars at Comic-Con Honolulu this year, but spending time meeting local artists and entrepreneurs was the highlight for me. 

Before I talk about Kevin Sorbo or Colin Baker, I wanted to pay tribute to the people who make Hawaii such a cool place to live. If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind gift, but you'd prefer to support a small business instead of forking your Hamiltons over to the man, these local artists offer something for everyone. None of the links I've provided are sponsored--I just think these businesses are cool.  


My photography skills really don't do this justice. Any fan of the Fallout serious would appreciate this, and for only a few bottle caps, you could get your very own ammo can. 

My photography skills really don't do this justice. Any fan of the Fallout serious would appreciate this, and for only a few bottle caps, you could get your very own ammo can. 

This was, hands-down, my favorite vendor at Comic-Con Honolulu. The artist, Nick, had several types of work on display, including amazing etched steel artwork, wooden boxes and wall hangings (etched and inlaid), and high-quality lighters embellished with insignia from various realms of nerdom. The objects possessed all the cool edginess of the games and films that inspired them, but they were also beautiful. The craftsmanship was exceptional, and the human beings running the booth were great too. I even got the opportunity to talk shop with Nick about what it means to break the soul-sucking cycle of the 9 to 5 to take on a creative pursuit. As a young padawan, I have a lot to learn. 

Malcognition's style spans across several types of media, and the projects are all limited-run sorts of things. Nick keeps some items in stock, but he is also happy to take custom orders. While he is passionate about his video-game and sci-fi themed creations, he also works with his wife (an entrepreneur as well) on wedding-related projects. If you like Nick's style, but he doesn't have what you want, I'm pretty certain he could bring your vision to life. 

What we bought: Malcognition had some military-grade ammo cans that had been re-imagined with design elements from video games and movies. Prior to the con, I told my husband that I wanted to get him a unique gift to commemorate a major career milestone he just achieved. When he saw the ammo can with Nuka-Cola (from Fallout 4) emblazoned across the side, he knew that was what he wanted. 

Since the ammo can is functional storage, and Nick wants his art to be used, he said he'd be glad to touch it up if it ever suffered any wear and tear. This business is military-friendly, which my husband and I always appreciate.  

Perfect for: Gamers, Sci-fi Aficionados, Service Members, People looking for custom work, People planning weddings



Oahu Makerspace

This nifty booth had a wide variety of items including stickers, coffee mugs, coasters, and mouse pads. Everything referenced movies, anime, and other icons of nerd culture. What wasn't immediately apparent when we were perusing their booth was that they had also made a Tardis. Yes, Dr. Who fans, there was a Tardis at Comic-Con Honolulu, and yes, it was bigger on the inside. (Take a gander at the photo at the bottom of this post if you are curious about the Tardis.)

Oahu Makerspace, as you might imagine, is not just home to the work of one artist. Local craftspeople pay a fee to access the workspace and equipment. They have equipment for digital carving, print making, and laser engraving. They also offer classes on a wide variety of skills such as welding and woodworking. 

What we bought: Our attention immediately went to a coffee mug that read "Star Wars Coffee" and featured a storm trooper. Saturday morning coffee will never look the same, and we're fine with that. 

Perfect for: Sci-fi Aficionados, Nerds, Creative people who need work space/ equipment


Cake Works

We didn't get much time to shop on Day 1 of Comic-Con, but we did do a quick run-through of the booths. We were pretty keen to get a snack after nerding out about Star Wars and Dr. Who for a few hours, and the colorful and yummy-looking treats at Cake Works seemed like the perfect end to a fun first day. 

This business recently won first-place in the Star Advertiser's Hawaii's Best of 2017, and it also received two awards from Wedding Wire. 

What we bought: The macaroons caught our attention. We chose chocolate, salt-caramel, Kona coffee, and red velvet cake flavors. These macaroons possessed the perfect amount of sweetness, and they were pretty! 

Perfect for: Weddings, Special occasion snacks, People who love getting treats at the bakery


Marla's Original Muncheez

The last day of the con was a blur of activity. We had several panels that we wanted to see, but we also wanted to visit a few more vendors. This booth was eye-catching, and they were generous with their samples. These snacks are cornflake cereal bars that come in a variety of flavors. The closest thing that you might have had is a Rice Krispie treat, but these are about 100 times better. They are not super-sticky, they taste delicious, and the bars hold together for easy-snacking. 

If you had friends visiting Hawaii for the first time, or you wanted to give someone a little surprise or a thank-you gift, these would be perfect. The packaging is super-cute, and they're made with aloha!

What we bought: After we tried the samples, we couldn't choose just one flavor. We bought the cinnamon and chocolate Muncheez. The plan is to enjoy the cinnamon-flavored bars at home and take the chocolate ones to share with my library friends, but it's going to be tough to keep me away from that second box.

Bonus: We bought them from Batman. 

Perfect for: Snacking on the go, Surprising someone with a locally-made gift, Feeding hungry writers...

I love shopping small/ local

I've talked about it before, and the sentiment hasn't changed. Not only do I like supporting the work of creative people, but I enjoy hearing the stories behind these businesses.  If you're like me and you struggle with choosing the perfect gift, you'd do well to seek out the talents of these local artists and entrepreneurs. 

Want to know what it was like to meet the 6th Doctor or Hercules? Check out this follow-up post on Comic-Con Honlulu!

If you liked this, you might check out my post on San Diego Comic-Con International 2016.


I've always wanted to hop into the Tardis! (Photo Credit: Nick Holt)

I've always wanted to hop into the Tardis! (Photo Credit: Nick Holt)