BY ISAIAH JOHN AGUON
A water sports store, a florist, and a refillery are among the latest businesses to open their doors to the island.
Marianas Water Sports opened October 2022 for business in Hagatna.
“I would like to provide the community with the proper equipment pertaining to board sports and its lifestyle,” Norman Wong, owner of Marianas Water Sports; said. “We open (our) arms to the community to promote safety, fitness, and environmental awareness through water sports, in the disciplines of (stand up paddling), surfing, foiling and windsurfing.”
The 800-square foot store specializes in custom cut paddles, which Marianas Water Sports sizes for each user, he told the Journal.
“Our other products are unique such as paddle boards and hippostick paddles that are designed and tested by the founder himself, who is an active SUP/Outrigger pro paddler,” Wong said. “Our Black Project paddles are also truly unique. BP only builds paddles and fins, which you can see the amount of (research and development) that goes into the finished product. Such as the different flex in the shaft, blade shape, blade angle and materials.”
The surfboards were designed by an Australian who has been shaping boards since 1971, he said.
Wong wanted to share some of the water sports he’s always found interesting.
“Particularly in windsurfing, foiling. and paddling, I just wanted to provide the community with quality options at a fair price. I just said to myself — with the support of my family — let’s try something new and open a water sports equipment store,” he said. “But in reality, it took a lot of research and risk.” Wong spent around $18,000 for materials.
Although not a professional in any of the mentioned sports, Wong is learning.
Business has been slow but steady,” he said. “We’re still trying to get our brand out there.” He hopes to see the business spread from Guam to the neighboring islands, he said. Feedback from customers has been very good, he said.
“Their first reaction when they walk in the door is ‘Wow you have a really nice store,’” Wong said. “All the credit goes to my wife. People say we have a very chill atmosphere.”
He said the goal is for people to think of Marianas Water Sports when they think of taking on a new hobby.
Marianas Water Sports is open from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.
“The Accidental Florist is the name … that I came up with when I initially thought to chronicle my unlikely journey as a florist,” Murphy said. “The idea was borne mostly to chart my progress from my humble beginnings as a budding floral designer, allowing me to showcase my work. As a journalist, I felt it necessary to document my journey since floral design was never ever on my radar as a likely career path.”
He said prior to taking that new direction, “My experience with flowers and blooms went as far as my Mom’s garden at our home in Dededo and the occasional scaling of a kalachucha tree to pick flowers for a lei.”
But what started as an occasional jaunt into the garden turned into a brand, a business that has blossomed into a love for everything related to floral design, he told the Journal.
“[My mission] is to create floral magic and spread joy, one bloom, client, (and) event at a time — laughing and smiling the entire way,” Murphy said.
He’s been a freelance florist since 2018 and is “pleasantly surprised at the response from those who my designs resonate with.”
The idea of becoming a florist was inspired shortly after he moved to Honolulu in 2011. His spouse asked if he would like to help a floral design team working with Fortune 500 companies who needed extra hands with some events in neighboring Maui. Murphy’s initial response was, “Are you crazy? I don’t know anything about florals.”
But he agreed to it, albeit reluctantly, drawn to the income and the chance to try something new and adventurous
He joined the team, and after 10 days of back-to-back events with 40 to 50 corporate tables adorned with centerpieces, and several same day multi-venue setups, he discovered something. “I had a knack for being able to quickly emulate a floral style or reproduce arrangements on the fly. The adrenaline alone was addicting,” Murphy said.
“The intensity and stress were palpable and it was very high pressure, but each day underscored something brewing under the surface — I had a new-found love for floral design, and gone was my teenage disdain for flowers. From there I welcomed any opportunity to try my hand at designing on my own, I’d buy blooms every chance I got and make mistakes — all with the goal of becoming an even better designer than when I started.”
Murphy was listed as one of Florists’ Reviews Top 125 Florists to Celebrate Across America in 2022.
Returning to Guam in mid-2022, he said business has been good for the Accidental Florist. “In a short amount of time I’ve managed to establish my signature brand of florals with a whimsical, romantic twist and it has fostered a growing list of clientele and a following that has led to new business partnerships and connections,” he said. “Business has been steadily growing and makes me wish I could clone myself.”
A lot of business leads come from referrals by clients and friends, Murphy said.
The idea of opening a storefront is in the air, as he works out of his home studio, he said. “I’m what you would dub a cottage industry,” he said. “... I would like to eventually open up a brick-and-mortar shop,” he said, but is looking for the right venue. “I don’t want it to just be a floral shop, but a floral oasis, really.”
For more information, email [email protected], or connect via social media @accidentalflorist or the website at accidentalflorist.net.
While she’s been in business for a while, she just recently opened her storefront at the CHamoru Village in Hagatna on Feb. 11. She’s on a mission to reduce single use plastic waste by offering refillable and sustainably made products.
“Our goal is to make a low-waste living accessible and convenient,” Flores-Cantrell said. owner and founder of Numa’lo Refillery. “You bring the containers, and we’ll refill them.”
The refillery started off as an idea in 2020, when Flores-Cantrell was living in Sacramento in California and had a completely different career she wasn’t enjoying.
“I was a high school educator, and was looking to move home to Guam the next year,” she said. “I had already been living a zero waste lifestyle meaning I had been trying my best on a daily to produce as little waste as possible and I had a lot of good resources where I lived,” she said.” Her husband suggested she start a zero-waste store on the island.
Flores-Cantrell moved back to Guam in 2021 and started her business, working out of a van that she and a cousin renovated.
“It was a mobile business,” she said. “And that was really just because I didn't have the means to afford a store and was wanting to test whether it would succeed.” Home deliveries and pop up sales in the villages brought customers.
Although Numa’lo was a hit the island’s intermittent weather became a challenge for the business, Flores-Cantrell said.
“We noticed people weren't willing to come out if that meant they had to stand in the rain and so we knew we needed to switch to a storefront,” she said.
Numa’lo opened its first storefront, sharing space temporarily with Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating community-centered solutions to climate change, Flores-Cantrell said. “We were there from the end of May last year to December … and definitely grew in our customer base.”
With the growth in her clientele, the need for her own space grew as well.
Flores-Cantrell enrolled in the Guam Unique Merchandise & Art, also known as GUMA, which helps entrepreneurs to get their businesses up and running. After she completed the program, she applied for a $20,000 GUMA Grant, which funded the construction of the storefront Numa’lo operates in the Chamorro Village.
Numa’lo offers zero-waste toilet paper, laundry soap, toilet paper, and shampoo, among others. Its products are plastic free, recyclable, compostable, or completely zero waste packaging; non-toxic, free of synthetic fragrances, phthalates (plasticizing chemicals), and preservatives; and ethically sourced from companies who provide fair and just wages and working environments.
“Refills means we sell things in bulk, liquid powder, cream form, and a lot of those are usually shampoo, conditioner, lotion, laundry detergent, essential oil, anything … you would find it in your home to clean,” she said.
The business is doing well.
“We have a lot of new faces in the store and we also hired a new employee,” she said.
Numa’lo will continue pop up shops around the island and host DIY workshops to help people create their own items at home and produce less waste.
The shop is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. For more information, visit numalorefillery.com.” mbj