The Adventures of Don and Betty Lou

Don Severson opened Tahiti Imports in the International Marketplace, Waikiki, on July 12, 1963. He had recently returned from a sailing trip aboard a 30′ “Tahiti ketch” to the South Pacific where he spent six months living in Tahiti. The stay in Tahiti left him with vivid impressions of vibrant colors and bold designs that were incorporated into the Tahitian fabric that Tahiti Imports continues to design and sell today. The store proved a great success and soon custom-made bikinis and pareus were all the rage on Hawaii’s beaches. It was Betty Lou’s fashion sense that transformed Tahiti Imports from a little stand of pareus into a chain of stores on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the island of Hawaii. Betty Lou and Don developed a new line of business in 1965 with the opening of Hawaiian Antiquities, Inc. Since then, Don has acquired 40 years’ experience appraising Hawaiian paintings, books, and artifacts. Betty Lou is president of Tahiti Imports. She often uses the designs of Hawaiian kapa and other antiquities as inspiration for her fabric.

Forty years of business experience as an antique dealer specializing in Hawaiiana and the appraisal of Hawaiian libraries, ethnographic material, paintings, and Polynesian art. Owner and operator of two Hawaii corporations. I have written and published books on Hawaiian and Polynesian tapa cloth and its origins; also, soon to be published fourth book on Hawaiian Collectables. For the past forty years, I have done appraisals based on an hourly fee for individuals, private estates, and institutions in Hawaii and on the mainland. Some institutions are listed below:

.Honolulu Academy of Arts
.John Howel Books, San Francisco
.Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai
.Mission Houses Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Hawaiian Trust, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Hui Hanai and the Liliuokalani Trust
.Hawaii School for Girls, Honolulu, Hawaii
.American Factors, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Lyman Museum, Hilo, Hawaii
.University of Hawaii, Art Department, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Washington Place, Honolulu, Hawaii
.Internal Revenue Service, Santa Ana, California
.Hawaii Volcanoes Nat’l Park, Hawaii for the U.S. Dept of Interior
.Hawaii Visitors Bureau
.The Contemporary Art Center
I am listed as an appraiser specializing in Hawaiian and Pacific materialby the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Academy of Arts and other island institutions.

Don & Betty Mele

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