At the Atelier, we have had the pleasure of assisting numerous pageant teens and girls in their dresses for their events! We love getting to meet these passionate teens as they pursue what they love! 

Photography by Casey Shoots

Over the last few years we have had the pleasure of working together with Noelle Lo, Miss Valley Isle Teen USA in 2019, and with Noelani DeNisi, who recently won Miss Maui Teen USA! We wanted to share some of these gorgeous gowns we worked on  and then some words from Noelle  about why she is so passionate about pageants. Photos featured are of Noelle Lo.

photography by Logan Tsukiyama

Some beautiful words by Noelle Lo on pageants: 

As a young girl who always loved making a change I aspired to have a platform. In a world full of keiki searching for a voice I wanted to be that inspiration for them. I decided to join pageantry, not for the crown, but because it was a way to put myself and my platform out to the world. The beauty of pageantry is that young wahine are able to speak upon different issues and platforms. Not only do we get to use our voices but we are able to look our best doing it. Pageants allow one to showcase their personality in a multitude of different ways. Our gowns just give us a boost of confidence when we speak to the world on what we want to do to create change. To some it may be a “beauty competition” but to me it is an opportunity for wahine to shine and inspire!

We love seeing these teens share their voices and shine their light to the community! We are so proud of you and the work you both are doing! Mahalo nui loa Noelle and Noelani!

Au Revoir & Bon Voyage Sophia!

We said au revoir & bon voyage to our lovely Sewing Assistant & First Hand Sophia Gallegos! At the end of August she was on her way to the other side of the world to study Fashion Design in Amsterdam! We could not be more excited and proud of her! We celebrated her last day in the Atelier with a Fancy Dress Day and kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon buns)!

We wanted to do a little Q&A with Sophia to reflect upon her years at the Atelier and to share more about her future plans. Find out more below:


Q: Sophia, can you share more about your experience working with Jennifer the last three years? 

A: I have absolutely loved working for Jennifer! I was a very inexperienced, self-taught sewer when I first got the job and Jennifer taught me a multitude of professional techniques which I’m so grateful for. Jennifer’s studio is so pretty and peaceful and everyone is so so kind which made work wonderful and I looked forward to it every week. I loved having afternoon tea every day and being able to learn how to sew in a safe and caring environment. I really appreciate how much Jennifer trusted my sewing ability as I often felt super nervous but her trust gave me reassurance that I could do it. 

Q: What was the most valuable lesson you learned?

A: The most important thing I learned was how to efficiently problem-solve. The studio gets very busy, especially during prom season and each dress has its own quirks. There’s not a lot of time to sit around and think, so you just have to be creative about how to alter the dress, and get it done. This skill makes me plan ahead and be able to find the most practical solution in my own designing and sewing without feeling stressed or flustered. Jennifer set such a good example as I rarely saw her get worried and no projects ever stumped her.

The photos above are from Sophia’s prom dress she designed this year!

Q: What was your favorite project you worked on over the years?

A: Definitely helping design the Mother Ginger costume for the Nutcracker. I had so much fun getting to be the designer for a moment as I did not have to do all of the sewing but I got to make the decisions. It was also so wonderful to help with a show again as I love how over the top the costumes are for live theater and the hectic but thrilling feeling of getting everything done before opening night.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as you enter a career in fashion design?

A: I’m really excited to be challenged by having to work around/with other fashion students who I can share ideas with and be inspired by. I also feel like I know very little about fashion history and how the industry works so I’m interested in becoming more educated so that my designs can become more complex. 

Q: Can you share a bit about your plans for the future?

A: This fall I am going to Amsterdam for three months for a gap year fashion program at the Amsterdam Fashion Academy! I’ve never been anywhere in Europe so I’m overwhelmingly excited to explore the city and be influenced by all the fashionable people there. In the spring I am going to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco which is a four year college that I am going to try for fashion design! After that, who knows, but whatever I am doing, I hope it will be fashionable!

It has been a pure joy having Sophia being a part of the Atelier the last few years. She has seen JOA grow in a number of ways and she has been a part of that growth every step of the way. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this talented and passionate fashion designer! We will miss your sun-shining, contagious energy! We are beyond excited for you to enter this new chapter! Congratulations Sophia! “Oh the places you’ll go!”

Costume Director!

We are so excited to share Jen’s latest endeavor on Maui… She will be the new Costume Director for Alexander Academy of Performing Arts! AAPA just recently created a brand new website where you can read all about the school.

Alexander Academy’s mission is to build confidence in each student through quality dance instruction while making this education affordable. We are so happy to work together with and support a performing arts school with such a caring mission. We love supporting arts education for youth on Maui. 

Jennifer began collaborating together with AAPA’s nonprofit organization, Alexander Academy Performing Company (AAPC), last year in partnership with her nonprofit organization, The Sewing Hui. Jennifer and the volunteers of The Sewing Hui worked together to create over 80 dance costumes for AAPC’s new annual Nutcracker Ballet Production and their Summer Performance of The Sleeping Beauty. Jennifer is so excited to be continuing this new collaboration and directing the costuming efforts for their productions.

Jennifer has an extensive background in costume design, having worked in costume shops and as a designer/dressmaker for 30+ years. She started in theater, at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger in Washington D.C., the Washington Opera in Washington D.C., and the Old Globe in San Diego, apprenticing in the costume shops. She moved to Hollywood to create costumes for film, television and private clients. Now she runs her own dressmaking and design atelier in upcountry Maui. She is thrilled to be continuing costume designing with Alexander Academy!

I’m delighted to be joining the staff at AAPA in the role of Costume Director.  The passion that flows from Studio Director Danelle, and Artistic Directors Absalon and Amelia is contagious and evident throughout the rest of the teachers and staff.  AAPA is a lively, vibrant place, dedicated to its students.  It instills in them the love and joy of teamwork through dance and performance.  Most importantly, every student is valued for what they bring to the dance floor.  It is a pleasure to be around such a lovely, kind-hearted and professional team.” – Jennifer Oberg

Follow @aapamaui @jenniferobergatelier and @thesewinghui to stay up-to-date with costuming projects!

Discovering the Dressmakers of Maui

While ordering a plate lunch one day at Ohana Island Grindz in Makawao, we saw this map posted at the counter. It is Baldwin Avenue in Makawao town from October 27, 1931. If you look closely you can see there was a small dressmaker shop! From the map we believe it is where the Maui Cookie Lady’s shop is currently located. 

Below you can see where the dressmaker’s shop is:

From the map and the layout of town now, we think this shop is where it used to be:

We tried to dig up some more history about this little shop from the 1930s, but we couldn’t find anything. If someone has more information and would like to share with us, please get in touch with us! 

In our search, we did come across a dressmaker from back in the day named Helen T. Ikeoka. She was born in 1911 in Honolulu. She owned a retail shop in Wailuku with ready to wear infant and children’s clothing. She attended Tanabe Dressmaking School and graduated from the Hawaii Dressmakers’ Association. 

We love to discover some of the history of the past dressmakers here on Maui. Feel free to reach out if you have more information and would like to share it with us. We would love to know more!

In-Studio Stories: Fancy Dress Day!

We have too much fun in the Atelier! We had to share one of our fancy dress days with you. Occasionally we choose a day in the week to get dressed up in our favorite outfits. It is so fun to dress your best on what could be just another day. 


Here is Jennifer, Lynne, Sophia, Micah, Patty, and Elaine dressed for fancy dress day.

Jennifer is wearing her own design made with chiffon fabric from Mood in LA. Lynne is wearing a plum sequin gown for dancing when she goes on cruises.  Sophia is wearing a Marilyn Monroe inspired gown that she purchased from Makawao Union Church’s thrift store for $8.  Micah is wearing his favorite mango colored jacket with one of Elaine’s hand-dyed scarves. Patty is wearing a ruched stretch black gown that is perfect for attending formal weddings.  Elaine is wearing her own design made with her hand-dyed silk, and a stunning beaded necklace.

Our team is so creative and unique. We love the different styles, creations, and aesthetics everyone shares in the studio! We are all about finding and experimenting with your personal style.

Check out some more photos from our fancy dress day below…

Maui Highlights: Photographer Tad Craig

This week we wanted to highlight Maui-based Photographer Tad Craig! We asked Tad to share a bit about himself and his approach to photography. Find out more below!

We first met Tad when we worked together with his wife Cory on her custom wedding gown! Below are some photos. Tad and Cory are both so lovely and kind. Tad recently offered to take a photo of The Sewing Hui volunteers for our Cookbook Fundraiser. So sweet of him! Find out more about Tad and his art below…

Cory and Tad on their wedding day at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. Photography by Scott Drexler.

A photo Tad Craig took for The Sewing Hui’s Cookbook Fundraiser.

Q: How would you describe your style and aesthetic with your work as a photographer? 

A: One of the most beautiful things we have here is the amazing colors of the Hawaiian Islands. I absolutely LOVE color & creating imagery that is Bold, Vibrant & Colorful. Of course I am constantly searching for those beautiful fleeting moments of raw emotion & joy that really express the moment too. Let me also say that I also love B&W. B&W has such a classic & timeless look to it & is perfect for some images at weddings & sometimes LESS is MORE! 

Q: What is your favorite part about photographing weddings on Maui? 

A: It would have to be the crazy beauty & amazing color that we have as a backdrop.

Q: Why did you choose Maui as your home for your business?

A: I was struggling in Hood River Oregon with a low paying job & my friends all had banquet jobs in the Five Star hotels on Maui’s South Side. I was an amatuer photographer pursuing a sports photography career & the three banquet jobs I had helped support that until I jumped ship & became a Romance/Family Photographer not looking back at my other jobs, but as a lifelong career.

Q: What are your favorite moments to capture with your photography? 

A: My most favorite moment to photograph hands down are surprise proposals. I LOVE capturing that moment when she realizes her life has just changed & her expression on her face reveals it perfectly. My most favorite part of a wedding to photograph is when it’s just the couple & I getting creative  right at sunset. However, photographing a big crew of friends all celebrating rowdily comes in quite close to that. 

Q: What drew you towards photography?

A: I grew up in Telluride, Colo. It’s a tiny little ski town nestled in the mountains of southern colorado. One of the locals was named Ace Kavel. He was a wildman on skis, but adventured into the wilds of the mountains to get these insane images all the time. He became famous & a local legend when he started gracing the pages of Patagonia catalog & earned a living from that type of photography. That was my dream! My stepfather gave me my first camera in 1985 which was a Nikon FE2. It was a manual film camera that I still have. It took me a REALLY long time to get serious, but right when I moved to Maui I started taking photography classes on B&W Photography & printing at the Hui No’eau. In those days we just used to put our hands right in the chemicals to fish the prints out & it was in one of those B&W printing sessions that I had my “AHA” moment & it all came together with all the photography concepts!  I turned pro a few years later when one day the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel came to me & said, you have to choose to be a  BANQUET WORKER, or a PHOTOGRAPHER, because you can’t do both professionally at this hotel! I chose photography!

Of course it came FULL CIRCLE when after I had proposed to my wife & we were looking for venues that I had told my fiance about the Hui No’eau & she fell in love with it. The roots of my photography were formed in the basement of the building & then the beginning of my marriage was formed in the lawn in front of the Art Studio surrounded by all of the most important people in my life!  And of course my wife was in a dress made by Jennifer Oberg! LIFE is Sweet!

Cory and Tad on their wedding day. Photography by Scott Drexler.

Cory and Tad on their wedding day. Photography by Scott Drexler.

And we just love those full circle moments!! We loved working with Tad’s wife on her gown and meeting Tad. Brides and grooms looking for a wedding photographer, we highly recommend Tad! You can follow his work on social media on IG: @tadcraigphotography or visit his website at

Maui Highlights: Photographer Madelynne Lorraine

This week we wanted to highlight Maui-based Photographer Madelynne Lorraine! We asked Madelynne to share a bit about herself and her approach to photography. Find out more below!

We first met her at Kristin and Sven Lindblad’s wedding ceremony at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. If you have been following our blog, you know that Kristin is the bride with the wedding heirloom gown and the peacock cape. You can find the past blog about her dress here. When we met Madelynne, we were so impressed by her style and approach to photography. She has a meticulous eye for capturing the precious little moments of the day. Like a fly on the wall, she sees the world through her camera and knows just when to hit the shutter on her camera.

Madelynne also graciously came to take photos for The Sewing Hui, a community organization directed by Jennifer Oberg. This was another great moment where she really captured the spirit of The Sewing Hui volunteers. Also, we wanted to share that both Madelynne and Jennifer are members of Maui Wedding Creatives, a collective of ‘like-minded wedding creatives aiming to elevate the Maui wedding industry through community, education, transparent business ethics, and client-centered practices. Brides-to-be, be sure to check out MWC for all your wedding vendor needs. 

Find out more about Madelynne and her work in a short Q&A we did with her:

Q: How would you describe your style and aesthetic with your work as a photographer?

A: My aesthetic is classically inspired and timeless. The right mood for the right moment. Light and bright images for playful, fun photos and moody photos for deeply emotional moments. Lighting, posing, composition and editing all play together to tell a story. The imagery should match the mood and tell a deeper story. I’m not one for fads, the only thing I want dating your photos is the fashion and wedding aesthetic! No toning or style changes based on what’s popular at the moment, because true classics never go out of style. I strive for vibrant imagery with true to scene colors as I know many couples put a lot of thought into their color schemes. Final galleries are a feast of visual variety…natural light to creative flash with influences from fashion to photojournalism. I appreciate photography with range.

Q: What is your favorite part about photographing weddings on Maui?

A: My favorite part about photographing weddings on Maui is the light, natural scenery and couples! We have absolutely gorgeous light in Hawaii, unparalleled sunsets and stunning scenery! I never feel I’m lacking inspiration. I love to show off the scenery in my photography, I mean why choose to have a Hawaii wedding if not for the amazing backdrops? The couples that choose Hawaii often do so because they want a more intimate wedding with those that are truly close. A destination wedding cuts out a lot of extras, and usually distills the day to what and who is most important. I also have to shout out the amazing wedding community out here, we have some really talented and heartfelt folks that truly embody community over competition.

Q: Why did you choose Maui as your home for your business?

A: Sometimes I don’t know if I so much chose Maui and it called to me. I moved here on a whim, a call that made no logical sense but felt right. Something was pulling me to take another leap of faith in life (my first being my decision to move to California and attend art school ). I had phenomenal opportunities in Los Angeles, but I think I was searching for a more grounded, heartfelt community. Maui and its people have transformed and challenged me in the best of ways, and I hope to be here for as long as the island will keep me.

Q: What are your favorite moments to capture with your photography?

A: This is a hard question, as one of the reasons I love weddings so much is the diversity it offers! I remember being encouraged to pick a specific photography field during college, to which I always struggled. I loved fashion, photojournalism, landscapes and macro nature work…how was I to choose? I didn’t realize how diverse of a shooter you need to be to photograph weddings until I first tried my hand at it. I instantly fell in love because I get to create imagery influenced by all my favorite styles. I do have a special place in my heart for candid moments, and apparently I’m something of a ninja…popping up at the right moments out of nowhere. It’s something clients have mentioned many times, though I have always been a fan of people watching and searching for the little things that speak to deeper truths.

Q: What drew you towards photography?

A: The ability to transport the viewer. I’ve always felt entranced by photography, ever since I was young. I wanted to experience all the world had to offer and often did so through images. I love how it connects us, and how it can be the link to our memories.

Brides looking for a wedding photographer, we highly recommend her! A wonderful person and a talented photographer. You can follow her work on social media on IG: @madelynnelorraine and FB: @madelynnelorrainephoto or visit her website at

Below are just some of the many beautiful moments she has captured:

Sophia wins the Trashion Show

Every year Mālama Maui Nui organizes their Art of Trash & Trashion Show event. Participants create art and fashion out of trash, finding ways to rethink, reinvent, and repurpose used or recycled materials. We always love seeing how creative all of the participants are!

We are thrilled to share that First Hand Sophia Gallegos won 1st prize for her piece ‘Après Shopping’. Way to go Sophia! We are so proud of you and we love seeing you continuously step into your artistry through every new piece you create.

Below is a quote from Sophia on her creation:

“I wanted to experiment. I didn’t want the dress to look as though it were plastic. Mostly I used packaging materials, and though I do love to shop, it was frustrating to realize how many plastic bags my family had in our house from various shops. It felt really unnecessary. This was mainly an experiment to see if I could successfully transform the materials into a cute dress, but has the subtle message to remind people to bring your own bag!” 

Sophia has some very exciting future plans that will take her to Amsterdam this coming fall. She will be attending Amsterdam Fashion Academy to study fashion design and business. It has been such a pleasure to see her grow as an artist and continue to follow her passions in fashion and design. 


If you’d like to see the other pieces participants created, then check out the online catalog here:

In-Studio Stories!

The last few weeks at the Atelier have been filled with prom dresses, glitter, sequins, and endless smiles. It has been such a joy getting to see the excitement of the Maui teens as they get ready for their proms this year. After a two year pause, these teens were ready to experience prom!

Here are some photos we wanted to share with you from the teens and the JOA staff during these last few weeks. A peek into the prom busyness at the atelier…

Sewing Assistant Micah working on alterations for this sparkly glitter prom dress in a pale lavender. Every night after working we went home with glitter all over us! And if you know glitter, it is not easy to get off. We had so much fun during these weeks filled with lots of glitter and glam!

Here is Master Dressmaker Jennifer holding up a hot pink sequins prom dress we were working on. It is very Jessica Rabbit! We loved seeing all of the different tastes and styles of prom dresses the teens brought into the atelier. 

The Maui teens at their prom! We made some alterations for the lavender prom gown.

Here is Sewing Assistant Micah with his sister Sara at prom. Micah graduated last year during covid, so he didn’t get to experience a prom. But luckily, his sweet sister Sara invited him to hers. Such nice siblings! We created Sara’s silk brocade vest for prom. 

It has been a jam-packed month of prom alterations and wedding clients. We anticipate the busyness to continue with wedding clients as many brides and grooms move forward with wedding plans this year. Brides, please get in touch as soon as possible if you are in need of our services. Appointments are filling up quickly for the summer. The sooner you can book an appointment the better. Email to schedule your first fitting appointment.

The Dream Team & Unexpected Surgery

Today, we wanted to send thanks and gratitude to our JOA team and our very understanding clients. Jennifer discovered a large mass in her neck at the end of January. After trying and trying to schedule appointments to have the mass removed, she was finally able to get a surgery scheduled in California. 

Jennifer had to step out of the studio for 2 weeks in March – a very busy time for the Atelier – to have surgery done on the mainland at Stanford Hospital. Thankfully, when the large mass was removed it was benign. We were all very relieved when we found out.

Jennifer in California during her recuperation after her surgery.

In the meantime, her wonderful crew at the Atelier held down the fort while she was away. She is incredibly appreciative of her amazing team, their dedication, and their ability to handle the unexpected with such ease and grace. We are very lucky to have so many talented people working at the Atelier! A big thank you to Elaine Gima – Head Seamstress, Lynne Donaldson – Alteration Specialist, Sophia Gallegos – First Hand, Micah Oberg – Sewing Assistant, and Yasmine Lindskog – Office Coordinator! Endless gratitude for being there for the unexpected and keeping JOA running smoothly.   

Our team handled nearly 40 fittings while Jennifer was gone. From prom dresses to custom wedding gowns to general alterations. The Atelier was busier than ever with client appointments and busy sewists working on all the garments. Jennifer called in many times via video and everything worked well.  The JOA team managed this unprecedented time with grace, grit, intelligence, quick-thinking, and determination. 

In addition, during prom season, our staff stayed the course and helped dozens of girls get their dresses done. We are all so happy about this! It has been two years since the teens were able to have their prom, so we were very passionate about ensuring they felt confident in their gowns at prom this year. Bravo JOA team!! And we are very happy Jennifer is back in the studio, healthy and well! When she got back she treated her staff to a special lunch at Hali’imaile General Store. 

Thank you to my incredible staff for their herculean efforts during my hospital stay and recovery in California.  They kept the studio running, did amazing work, and most importantly – took care of so many girls with their prom dresses. The thought of being gone from the studio during prom season was overwhelming to me, but the team took the bull by the horns and gracefully muscled their way through!  They are the best!” – Jennifer