Mar 08, 2016
#WeAreWard: Katrina Justiniano
As the Residential Gallery Concierge, Katrina Justiniano is often the first face that many newcomers see when they step into the IBM building to learn about the future of Ward Village.
Her beaming smile, pleasant demeanor, and in-depth understanding of the future of this special neighborhood make her a delight to be around. In short, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't love Katrina. In the interview below, she discusses just what makes Ward such a special place to her and how she envisions Ward Village taking shape in the coming years.
How long have you worked in Ward Village?
I've been working at Ward Village for just over a year now.
Can you describe what a typical day looks like in your job?
A typical day as a Residential Gallery Concierge starts off by opening up our residential gallery showrooms. I like to think of our showrooms as art galleries, and we are the first ones to go through it in the morning, checking for anything and everything that might be out of place. We strive to be the best of the best in the industry, so that means making sure that every single detail is checked and double-checked before we open up for the day. Checking for smudge marks, finger prints, burnt out light bulbs, liveliness of the foliage, fluffiness of the pillows – you name it, we probably check for it.
From there, I take a look at the schedule of appointments for the day. It's part of the concierge's responsibility to make sure the flow of appointments run smoothly. Once the concierge desk is open, we turn into an information center where it then becomes our responsibility to answer questions that get directed to us through phone, email or walk-in visitors. Typically, I am the first point of contact for anyone who walks in to the building so top-level customer service is a must. My day is usually nothing short of receiving deliveries, directing traffic and conducting community tours to inquiring guests. Many people are curious to know what is going on with the new development so educating and informing them also falls on to my list of responsibilities.
What's your favorite thing about working in the Village?
My favorite thing about working in Ward Village is the proximity to everything. I've become spoiled by how close my work is to everything, and of course the free parking is a huge perk too. I used to work downtown where parking was $10 a day! Free parking is a novelty these days and I am happy to say Ward Village has a lot of it.
Do you originally hail from Oahu?
I was actually born and raised on the island of Guam. Upon graduating high school, I moved to San Francisco, CA to pursue fashion design, but ended up transferring to the University of San Francisco and studying International Business. While I was in the Bay Area, my family moved out to Oahu to expand our family business. The very same week that I graduated from college at USF, my mother was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer and I dropped everything and moved to Hawaii to become her caretaker. Today, she is a cancer-surviving warrior for eight years now and I have her to thank for moving me to this beautiful island.
Do you have a favorite place to eat in the Village?
My favorite place to eat in Ward Village is definitely Agu Ramen. A very close second place is Goma Tei, so I guess you could say I have a thing for ramen!
And now on to shopping. Do you have a favorite place(s) to shop in the area?
My favorite place to shop is Red Pineapple. Coincidentally, the owner of the shop is also from Guam and her father owns a cookie company (Chamorro Chip Cookies) that is by far my most favorite cookie brand ever, which they also sell at the store. Aside from that fact, the shop is just an explosion of awesome that is actually very dangerous for my wallet. Any time I need to shop for a gift of any occasion, I usually head over to Red Pineapple. Also, they have the best cards for pretty much every occasion you could think of.
As the new developments take hold, what excites you most about Ward Village?
What I find most exciting about Ward Village is that we are just getting started. Many people are still being introduced to our master-plan community and what I find is that people are usually pleasantly surprised to learn about what we are doing in this place. You hear it over and over, but we're transforming parking lots into community spaces and we're looking to find better uses for a lot of these neglected areas. We're already starting to see a glimpse into what the future of Ward Village is going to look like with the larger store front areas and increased trees and water features. In my one year of being here, I have seen the weekly free yoga classes double, triple, and even quadruple in size. What other neighborhood has been able to deliver an outdoor ice-skating rink and a Yayoi Kusama art exhibit installation all within a few months? With all of the transformations taking place to deliver more park spaces, cafes and retail spots, I can't help but feel that this is going to be the perfect gathering place once again just as it used to be long ago.
How do you see the neighborhood taking shape in the next few years?
Once these towers start going up, I think that Ward Village is going to be bustling with people of all demographics, all age ranges, from all corners of the world. It's going to be such an amazing mix of all kinds of people, as we have such a wide range of housing being delivered to the market. With the Whole Foods Market coming in to the mix as well, we'll be able to provide groceries to the many families who already live in Kaka'ako. This area was originally an industrial area but it's transforming in to a people place where entire families reside.
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