Vendors from the cancelled Pasifika Festival recover their costs at a pop-up marketplace event hosted by The Pacific Business Hub.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub - Lillian Arp Manaui Media
Manukau, AKL- The sudden cancellation of 2019’s Pasifika Festival left several merchants stranded and overstocked with product intended for the 2-day event. Some quick thinking from Auckland’s Pacific business community, however, lead to a mini-marketplace weekend at the Pacific Business Hub, where merchants were able to recover their costs.
“It was spur of the moment,” says Laura Keil-Hall, founder of the Pacific Business Hub. She initially offered to host the urgent retail event in collaboration with Samoa Business Network (SBN), for a group of four fashion houses & designers who had flown in from Samoa for the festival. SBN had planned a shared stall for these businesses at Pasifika, followed by a Pop-Up Shop at the Hub on Monday, following the Festival. When the Pasifika cancelation notice was released, they quickly improvised the plan, and offered to the Samoan businesses, to extend the Pop-Up event to three days, to support them and ensure they generated revenue to make the trip worthwhile. Within a few hours after the Pasifika announcement, they posted promotions for the ‘Pop-Up Pasifika’ event via social media, and leveraged on established networks to promote the event.
But after promotional material for this new ‘Pop-Up Pasifika’ was released, “I got messages and emails from other festival vendors wanting to be a part of it,” she says.
A total of fourteen merchants eventually set up shop at the Pacific Business Hub in Manukau City. They included the four from Samoa as well as a clothing brand from Tahiti, greeting card makers from Australia, pearl jewellers from the Cook Islands and even a few New Zealand-based Pasifika businesses.
The Pop-Up opened on Saturday, 23rdof March, to a warm public response. “It was awesome!” Keil-Hall reports. “The people who came to the event came to buy.”
“Some of them said it’s nice to have authentic Pacific products,” she continues. “I’d see a few people actually try to get one [item] from each stall, so that was really good.”
Keil-Hall drew on her years of experience in event planning to pull off this impromptu marketplace, but a huge advantage was that she already owned a venue for it. She had opened the Pacific Business Hub – a shared working space aimed at Pasifika entrepreneurs – only a few weeks earlier and was working towards its official launch when she learned about the cancellation of Pasifika.
“One of the vendors said, when they heard about that, they cried,” she says, “because they didn’t know what to do and they’d ordered all this stock and they’ve got nowhere else to go. I mean, I definitely understand the situation and why [Pasifika] was cancelled, but we’ve still got to think about the livelihood of these vendors [who had] spent a lot of money… at least give them another option to… make some money back.”
By all accounts, Pop-Up Pasifika was a success. Keil-Hall visited with each of her hosted merchants who reported: not only did they hit their expected revenue targets for the weekend, but they also made a lot of new connections and have plans now for future collaborations.
Keil-Hall was especially moved by the sense of positivity and aroha over the weekend, from the supporters who came through and amongst the vendors themselves. They helped each other set up stalls or and even shared their EFTPOS services. And then, Keil-Hall laughs, “they all asked me whether we can actually have [this Pop-Up] as an annual event!”
The vendors paid $60 per day for a stall in the Pacific Business Hub. The Pop-Up Pasifika event ran for three days, from Saturday the 23rdto Monday the 25thof March.
The Pacific Business Hub is especially grateful to Afamasaga Jackie Curry of the Samoa Business Network and Martin Anae of Bluwave for their generous support of this event. Also acknowledging the support of PCF, PTI NZ, MFAT, PACIFICA Inc. & some Local Councillors.
We also wish to thank and acknowledge the contribution of Pacific Media Network and Radio Samoa for being very accomodating and helping us reach our audiences.
List of vendors;
Aolele - Handmade Adornment (Samoa - NZ local)
Insider Samoa (Samoa)
Island Kiwi (NZ residing in Hawaii)
Kingdom Design (Tonga - NZ local)
Koloa Jewellery (Tonga - NZ local)
Kora Pearls (Cook Islands)
Nelly Samoa (Samoa)
Nesian-Phresh (Tonga & Samoa from Australia)
Rimani Samoa (Samoa)
Siamu Popo (Samoa)
Tuiga by FotuoSamoa (Samoa - NZ Local)
Tulela Boutique (Samoa)
Under the Bird / Soy Delights NZ (Samoa - NZ local)