Republished by The Pacific Business Hub | By Spacific Consultancy Ltd
Mālō e lelei,
We are so proud to be introducing three amazing young Tongan sisters – Valu, Fiona and Lydia who are the faces behind Nanas Kitchen.
Nanas Kitchen is an up and coming catering company in Otara, South Auckland, offering authentic Tongan and Pacific Island cuisine with a mix of today's tastes, specialising in platters, breakfasts, work lunches, and family functions.
Malo e lelei, my name is Valu Tuanaki. I am full Tongan, and the eldest of 7 children. I was born at Middlemore Hospital, and raised most my life in Otara but I currently reside in Mangere East. I am married to Mone and we have a three-year old daughter Natasha. I am a fully registered teacher and I work for the Auckland Kindergarten Association at Bairds Kindergarten in Otara.
My role within Nanas Kitchen is Admin, alongside my sister Lydia. As an older sister, I am so proud of my sister Fiona. I remember the first time Fiona came up with the idea of wanting to start a Catering Business. I had so many questions such as, where were we going to cook from? Who was going to do the cooking? How do we even start a business? Where were we going to get money from? But I knew, if this was what my sister wanted to do, I would support her.
So in May 2021 we introduced this idea to our Nana and our Village. They were delighted and said they will always be behind her to help her out when she needed it. It was at that moment, that we knew no matter what happens through this new business journey that Fiona was about to embark on, she would not be alone and that our village will be behind her all the way.
It's now 2022 and I’m truly and extremely proud of how far Fiona has come along with the business. She continues to show her passion of cooking whilst working hard behind the scenes of Nanas Kitchen every day. She is always willing to learn and grow when opportunities arise for her in this business venture. Without a doubt, I know that without the prayers of our Nana and aunties, the support of our village, whether it be cooking, cleaning, delivering, advice etc, Nanas Kitchen wouldn’t be where it is now and where it will continue to go in the future.
Malo ‘aupito – Valu Tuanaki
Malo e lelei my name is Fiona Vea. I am 24 years of age, a trained Chef and I am the second eldest sister. Nanas Kitchen is a name I hold close to my heart and hits home deeply. My story started from a very young age. Growing up with my grandparents, hospitality was the main thing taught to us as kids. Hospitality was something we as kids didn’t like but having typical Tongan grandparents, there was no such thing as an option.
In May 2021, I started a small catering business that specialises in authentic Tongan and Pacific Island cuisine with a mix of today’s tastes. The name Nanas Kitchen comes from an area of love but most importantly my grandparents with a long line of men and women who worked hard to get us this life we now have.
Being able to share my talents with people other than family gives me joy and happiness, but most importantly feeling the spirits of my late grandfather, who spoke and taught me that a good host is someone who caters to anyone and everyone whether it is at home or out in the community. It wasn’t until his passing when reality hit me. Life without him got the best of me and for two years I had to figure it all out on my own. Until one day I realised that whenever I would cook, I would feel his spirits around so I kept cooking and this is where it has gotten me. It took a village to raise me and it’s definitely taken a village to build this business and it’s still building.
John 15:5, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” This is to my grandparents who planted good seeds that now have blossomed and borne more fruit.
Malo e lelei my name is Lydia Vea and I am the youngest of the three sisters. I work as an admin alongside my older sister, Halaevalu Tuanaki (Valu).
Outside of Nanas Kitchen, I am a Primary School Teacher currently awaiting Graduation in August. Growing up, food has always been something that brought our families closer together. We watched our grandmothers, aunties and mothers cook all sorts of dishes that would make us dribble from a mile away. Not to forget the loud squeals of laughter that echoed back and forth with our grandfathers, uncles and fathers outside preparing the Umu by the pit. These were the most memorable moments growing up at Nana’s House.
Fast forward a few years, Fiona has now taken on the role that continues to bring our people together. With the uncertainty of Covid and a whole heap of other things, there was no guarantee that the journey would go according to plan but here we are.
I am extremely proud of Fiona's growth over the years. Her willingness to serve others, explore and incorporate different tastes of the world is what makes her unique. You can see the ambition in Fiona’s eyes from a mile away and that’s how I know that was destined for this, despite her stubbornness hahaha. With Fiona’s great passion, it’s evident that she can make the impossible happen. I can definitely see big things happening for Nanas Kitchen in the future.
This journey alone would not have been possible without the support and prayers from our village and customers. Behind the scenes of Nanas Kitchen is not always easy but it’s so worth it knowing we have the support of family, but more so that our customers are happy. They say, a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all and I couldn’t agree more.
One of the things I am most grateful for in this journey is the fact that I get to be in
business with none other than my two older sisters and not to forget our family. This is only the start. Best believe, we will be making big moves.
Love & Light, Lydia Vea
Written from the personal experience of owner & operator of Osana Chips & Catering, Natalia Tone. From hitting rock bottom, to finding faith and hope! This is her story and business journey...
About 3 years ago...
I resigned from my job of almost 20years to run our small bar in town, Tuxx.
Our loans were on mountain peak and the decision to leave my job was merely to focus on the bar to generate better revenue to service our loans.
Three weeks into renovations and trying to do a facelift we were slapped with a fine, encountered issues and then we weren't able to continue operations due to unforeseen circumstances.
We were in trouble.
We were now faced with huge loans and a closed business. My husband Tui and I were now also both unemployed. At this point, we were drowning...financially!
I had to quickly think of ways to get us out and to keep us afloat, however time and favour was not on our side at the time. I started to lock myself away from reality. I was depressed and unstable. I was unhappy, deeply broken and lost in empty thoughts everyday. My marriage was hanging by a thread and my children were confused.
I was a mess.
Then Help came.
This help came in the form of my Father in Law whom helped us financially and took some load off our shoulders with our dire financial situation. It helped buy us some time to come up with something and something very fast.
With this help we also had to face reality of the consequences accompanying the help because relationships were broken.
Our marriage was falling apart. Our Family was broken. It was a mess. Major lifestyle adjustments had to be made.
At his age, it was quite unfair of us to put such burden on him and his hard earned money as well as Tui's siblings.
We were and are still very grateful everyday for my Father in Law's help.
Even though Tui's dad was taking care of our big loan now but we were still in trouble. Being both unemployed, we had no money to survive on a daily basis...we were broke (as a joke - is what they would call it).
My little sister would constantly message me from NZ to get up and just start over but I was into deep with my pity party, hungover in sorrow.
My cousin Kevin, every day was checking on me too, telling me that things will not get better if I keep locking myself in the room.
Tui's sisters would take our daughter Noue for treats all the time and it was such joy because we knew she was well taken care of.
We would literally stretch our budget on cash power, petrol and the kids to be at school. Food was not a priority.
My mom was coming through everyday with food and credit. I recall one time she cried and told me to get up! That I am more than able to overcome anything.
We would pick up food from Tui's mom too. And this lifestyle was our normal for a while. Not having enough was our normal. Two days of not feeling like eating was normal for me.
Then one evening, in my now normal daily routine of getting drunk in self pity, sleeping all day, I heard an inner voice which sounded quite clear to me that said, I love you.
I was now wide awake.
I was like...wait am I hearing things now? Is this normal? Was that a Ghost?
Okay, where am i getting at with this? This Is my story of God's love and goodness. This is where OSANA's story begins.
This same day I got up and I felt like I was ready to take on the world, just like that! I didn't know what I was going to do but i got up. I walked to the fridge, opened it and there was absolutely nothing inside. And instantly I went back to square one of feeling hopeless. I went to my room and instead of going back to sleeping, I cried out to the Lord. I prayed, Lord please take the wheel. I can't do this.
Not long after that, I heard a car outside and I could hear someone calling my name. One of the young lads had come to drop off a pusa moa (box of chicken) from the Faifeau.
Yes, Osana was born! Born out of our kitchen in our humble home with a pusa moa gifted from a Faifeau.
The pusa moa was supposed to be for my mom from a funeral but she wasn't home so they came to drop it off at our house. My mom let us keep it for the kids food.
I then looked at this box of chicken and I got a leading to cook and sell meals, so that's what I did. Once the meals were cooked, I posted it for sale online on social media. No one messaged. Well, no one but my mom and her friends. My first customers...yay! They ordered 3 meals. The money made from these 3 meals we used to buy more ingredients to cook the remainder of the chicken which I cooked the very next day and posted online again. This time we sold 18 meals. We were overjoyed by this and the feeling was short lived, when someone comes over and tells me to sort out our stuff and commented...'You are really going to get nowhere with these 10 tala meals, you need to find a real job'. She wasn't wrong. I started feeling down and was backsliding then I heard that inner voice again, this time it said...keep going!
So the next day we sold almost 20 meals (double yay!). The third day we were selling 40+ meals. Then I received our very first catering order from Rina and Bubba Tuigamala. (I will always remember that order). It wasn't at all perfect from our end but it was a start of something special.
By now I was able to refocus with the right mindset. We made financial decisions that helped us along the way. We put our truck on the market and it didn't sell for a while. It was only when we prayed to God for his help that we got a buyer on the same day.
From here, we were able to renovate our old house and turn it into a kitchen, pay some outstanding bills and buy cooking equipment, ovens etc.
My relationship with God has now grown to a whole different level. During this experience, I came to realise that with everything that happened to me and my family, God never left my side. Through this experience, I tasted and saw the goodness of God. That people will come and go but God will always be with you.
For his word tell us in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".
It was then, I also realised money is not the most important thing in life and I had to make some major adjustments.
It wasn't until I cried out that I needed him that I started to see his power manifest through my life (you really need to humble yourself, repent and ask for God's help and he will come through).
So, what exactly am I saying?
I'm saying that all that i have and all that I have become now comes from Christ. Only HE made it happen for me, my marriage and my family.
Why am I sharing this?
I'm sharing my story to inspire and help someone else who is going through a similar situation I've been through.
I truly believe that the things God placed in my path, was for a reason. The olive that is me was meant to be crushed. Crushed to produce oil. For, in order to get out the good oil it first must be crushed.
I have a part to play.
I have to yield to the leading of the holy spirit.
I have to humble myself.
I have to make sacrifices.
I have to Love...like God loves us.
Now in whatever situation you are or may be going through, know that if you've tried left and you've ran right and still nothing...Look Up! The bible says; Look up to the hills. For whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord the maker of Heaven and Earth.
See the good in everything. There is always a good in every bad situation. Seek good and you will find good.
Our Lord, he is bigger than all our problems...
You have financial problems, God is bigger than that.
You got a bad report from the doctor, God is bigger than any sickness.
Your marriage is falling apart, God is bigger than that. And that's his gift to man, so hold on tight to yours.
Two years on...
We have not yet arrived but I can testify that the Goodness of God has come through for us every single time. He will continue to provide for us. He is our source of all good things. We now rely heavily only on him.
A few days ago, we finally moved into our new kitchen. And we managed to save enough for an office.
This is the Goodness of God
Thank you Lord.
Praise you Lord!
I will call out to my soul.
BLESS THE LORD OH MY SOUL AND ALL THAT IS WITHIN ME BLESS HIS HOLY NAME.
Thank you to our parents, family and friends who came through for us, who helped us and provided words of encouragement and support, we are grateful. God Bless you all and keep you.
Please know my story is in no way being put out to condemn, prove or justify our blessings...it is shared to encourage you to have faith and know that God loves you. Through him, everything is possible.
Osana i mealelei mai luga!
Natalia & Family
Osana Chips & Catering
Osana Chips & Catering - OC Catering
T: +685 7141705
Vailau definitely inspired everything about LUVA from its name, to its vision, to its meaning and even as far as our business plan and future goals.
Down Syndrome. A genetic disorder also known as Trisomy 21 that is caused when an abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. If you’re unfamiliar with medical jargon or if you’ve never known anyone with Down Syndrome, then the Lolohea family have created a clothing label called LUVA to help you understand it. LUVA is inspired by their precious boy Tavailau Telefoni Lolohea who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth.
“It started from the idea that we wanted to help people understand the diagnosis better particularly in the Pacific Island community as our Tongan side to the family hadn’t been exposed to Down Syndrome before, therefore the translation and understanding was harder. We wanted to change that through a way that was unique, interesting and classic so as not to be so in people’s faces.”
Everything about the LUVA brand has been intentional from the beginning. Tavailau inspired this brand with his unique presence in the world.
“Vailau definitely inspired everything about LUVA from its name, to its vision, to its meaning and even as far as our business plan and future goals. Everything we do, we do with him in mind and others like him. We want to represent people of difference and make sure that they don’t feel alone and that they can do as much as anyone else.”
A strong family unit is the backbone of this family based business and the Lolohea family ensure that their time spent together as a family is a priority and like many Pacific Island business owners, they work in full time employment on top of running the business.
“Family comes first for sure which is why LUVA is a slow and steady project. And of course we are a working family so what we do for LUVA we do in our spare time between working and spending time with the kids. It’s not always easy but when we remind ourselves what it’s all for it easy to get back on track.”
Tavailau inspires both the brand and the underlying message for LUVA. For the Lolohea family, it has enabled them to be innovative and to tailor their brand to a more inclusive audience, as opposed to only catering for the mainstream.
“Having a child with a difference makes you think a bit more about inclusiveness and making sure what your doing doesn’t just appeal to the mainstream. It’s all about accessibility and making sure he has the best chances in life. You have to make sure your decisions are the right ones as you have a lot riding on it.”
Juggling family and business life has been quite an obstacle for the Lolohea family but they’ve managed to do very well and are forever grateful to their supportive community, business networks and customers who have helped support and share the LUVA brand.
“First and foremost our families are our biggest support crew. Followed by our wider LUVA family and then of course all the other businesses that have coached us along the way. These include Pacific Business Trust, Fraser High School, Chair of Waikato Pacific Business Network, The Pacific Business Hub and more in the works.”
With hearts filled with gratitude, the Lolohea family believe in giving back and sharing advice from their own business journey to other new business out there
“Keep going and keep your vision in the forefront of everything you do. If you keep that in focus you will succeed. It won’t always happen over night so prepare to be in it for the long run. There will be major ups and major downs but focus on the positives and keep reminding yourself why you’re here in the first place.”
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Fatima Lui - Saturday Fly
The idea of beauty looks different for everyone, but for Tongan business owner Veronica Pahulu, beauty looks like women empowerment and self confidence.
Veronica Pahulu began her career in the beauty industry from the comfort of her own home.
“My daughter Lavika's birth 4 years ago marked a change in my life and I didn’t need to 'settle' for the stable 9-5 life as an office manager. I needed something more, I needed to leave something behind for my children, something that they could be proud of. A legacy for my daughter & her brothers” says Veronica. Setting up the spare bedroom in her house and transforming her garage into a beauty studio, Veronica grew her clientele from very few to very many. So much so, that she took up the opportunity to set up shop inside the Mangere Town Centre, where her business name is proudly displayed for everyone to see: LAVIKA’S LASH HOUSE. “Lavika is my daughter's name. Lavika represents a woman who doesn't settle with what is given to her. A self-empowered woman who uses her life lessons to empower other women. Lavika is a woman who understands that true empowerment starts with financial independence and is something I try hard through my business to advocate to other women. That they have the power to go out & get the life that they truly deserve” Veronica says proudly.
Veronica leads her business with purpose and has done well, however despite the many successes and growing clientele, Veronica is not new to challenges and trials in her business. She says “There's always challenges along the way with business. When something is sorted, another challenge pops up, new levels - new devils, I say! But it's your ability to recognise the problem & act quickly to solve them. Speed is key, especially in this day and age, you need to be able to move swiftly and be adaptable to change or you will be left behind. You also have to be coachable, always open to learn and accept new ideas - whether they are useful or not but always remain open. Always know that with your business the problem starts with you, and the solution is you”.
The passion that Veronica has for her business and for the clients she serves is evident in her energy and the opportunities she creates for other women like her. When women approach Lavika’s lash house, it’s not solely about lashes. It’s about rest and restoration. They’re given a comfortable recliner to rest in, a safe space to share everything on their mind and they walk out looking beautiful - or as young people would say it “with their lashes on fleek”. Veronica has also introduced a business model that enables other eyelash technicians to work inside her salon. She says “Our working model is truly FREE YOUR LIFE. You set your pay targets, pick your hours you work. And basically come do your thing, and go home to live your life. You are truly the boss of YOU. A happy happy workforce, is a productive one. Now we have opened up our education part of our business, and are training up a new wave of women who not only want to learn the art of lashing, but we give them the confidence and tools to start their own lash business. In the process empowering them towards their own financial independence. The best part of Lavikas Lash House for me is that yes it's my business, but I don't ever feel like I'm really working because I get to have fun, do what I love, and empower others along the way.”
Veronica’s Tongan culture plays an important role in her business and there is four golden pillars in Tongan society that shapes her core values in business. “We have four Kaveikoula or 'four golden pillars' in Tongan society. Without being Tongan & holding these core values in how I work, I don't think Lavikas Lash House would be as successful as it is" Veronica says.
The work ethic and drive that Veronica possesses is the epitome of women empowerment. Using a business model that communicates her values and enables other women to create their own work-life balance has served her well in business. She adapts to changes in business and offers wisdom to other business owners. She says “A dream without action is just a dream. Learn your craft & master it. Why settle for mediocrity? When you can be the best! Learn your craft & practise until you are a master. When my "perfect family" had the rug pulled out from under us 15 months ago, I suddenly found myself a single mum of 6 beautiful children. I thank God everyday that he planted the seed of Lavikas Lash House in me a few years prior. It was all I had to fall back on and it's carried myself & my family through the hardest times. That is why I am so invested in my business, I would not have had the strength without it. Which is why I advocate to other women, MAINTAIN your financial independence because you deserve it”.
AKONO is an ode to Ruth's parents. Akono means 'to care for, to preserve, to look after'.
We hope you resonate and feel inspired by Ruth's journey.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Ivamere Nataro
You don’t have to go through the formal education system to earn the “big bucks”. Commercial farmer, Anasa Tawake, knows this.
He did not have the privilege of acquiring formal education, but today he earns more than a white-collar worker would do annually from his 50-acre farm.
While the concept of large scale commercial farming may not sound like a lucrative and sustainable source of income for some, the 48-year-old from Kalabu, Naitasiri, knows the value of the land and its benefits when he invests his time and assets.
ABOUT THE COMMERCIAL FARM
Mr Tawake has been a commercial farmer for 34 years. He has a 30-acre farm in Veikoba, an eight-acre farm in Sakoca, and two six-acre farms in Delaivalelevu and Natila, Tailevu. He plants dalo, ginger and cassava as it’s easy for him to manage compared to farming vegetables. He recently planted 7,800 yaqona plants in Natila, Tailevu. For last year alone, he recorded a profit of $133,000.
“When I harvest my crops, sometimes I earn $27,000 – $30,000 and that’s for dalo alone. For ginger, last year I earned $73,000, that’s from our farm in Veikoba,” he said.
“I sell cassava in bags every day. I can sell eight bags in one day and from that, I earn about $400, which I use to pay my workers.”
Mr Tawake harvests dalo eight to 10 times in a year and ginger only once when it is mature. Annually, he would spend $60,000-$70,000 on purchasing manure, contracting workers, hiring machines and paying for fuel and ration for the workers. He pays $150 weekly to each of his 10 permanent workers. In a year, $70,000 – $80,000 is set aside for wages.
“I also raise cows and pigs for both commercial and domestic purposes."
“Sometimes I keep some [cattle and pigs] in cases of family gatherings so that I don’t get to use money as well to buy cows or pigs from other places."
“When I buy a cow, I can get it for $100 – $150, and then raise it because buying from other farmers for our family gatherings would cost me $700-$800 for just one cow.”
BENEFITS OF FARMING
The father of six is married to Sereana from Nasau, Koro in Lomaiviti. It’s through his farm that he’s able to put his children through school, with two already graduated from tertiary studies and now working.
“This year I won the award for the largest dalo farmer of the year from the Ministry of Agriculture."
“I thought I was going to scoop both dalo and ginger but unfortunately I was competing with the Chinese and Indo-Fijian farmers.”
CHALLENGES OF FARMING
“First is the change in weather patterns that damages our crop, second is the manure. A lot of times there’s a shortage but I don’t lose faith because through my farm I am able to financially support my family so I dedicate my time and energy in managing my farm."
“The other one is stealing. This is a problem, especially the young people stealing from other people’s farms.”
Mr Tawake said at times the price of dalo was unfair to farmers.
“Sometime 1kg dalo is $2.50-$3 but when it hits $4 or $5, we are happy because we make money.”
“Don’t depend too much on the assistance from the Government. If the Government helps only once, that’s OK, but the onus is now on you to do the work.”
“I am also helping out my workers in terms of business and I have also subdivided my farm among them. I want them to have cars and houses. It started last year and this year it’s going really well."
“I reinvest my money in growing my farm. Many people, when they earn from their farms, they use their money to buy other things rather than reinvesting their time and money on their asset."
“At one stage I had $70,000 in my bank account and I thought of getting a Land Cruiser, most of us we are attracted by what we see, like me, but then I thought, maybe I will focus on building houses to rent out."
“I have so far used $110,000 in building a house to rent out and I will do more of such in the future.”
Mr Tawake said building and renting out houses were his financial backup plan when there came a time that he needed to retire from farming."
He does not receive assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture, but he helps other farmers by supplying ginger seedlings and dalo tops such as in Ketei village in Totoya, Lau, and Natila village, Tailevu.
“Most farmers go to the Ministry of Agriculture in Nausori for advice and they are directed to me, and when I explain to them about the method and benefits of farming and working the land, many resign from their jobs."
HOW EVERY DAY STARTS FOR TAWAKE
“I am always happy when I wake up every morning because I get to see my farm. It’s just like those who work in the office; they wake up every morning and look forward to working in their office. That’s just like me because I know my farm is earning money."
“When I get up every morning, I pick up my workers and drop them off at the farm by 8 o’clock and then around 10 o’clock or 11o’clock, I come home to have breakfast and then I head back to the farm and do some work."
“My workers get one and a half-hour rest and finish work at 5pm.”
Mr Tawake comes from a family line of farmers. His dad and forefathers were farmers.
“When we grew up in [Kalabu] many of us just looked to the land for a source of income."
“For me, I am the only one in this generation living in this area to be fully utilising the land. I have four brothers. One works and the three of us farm."
“Our elders were not large commercial farmers; instead they sell along the roadside and small markets just to get by in a day.”
Use the land, he said.
“If you work somewhere and you earn less, and if you have a land, just go back to utilising your land. Because nowadays earning $300 is not enough to cater for the high cost of living we are experiencing."
“Government has done great help for the people; the only problem is the individual farmer."
“Don’t depend too much on the assistance from the Government. If the Government helps only once, that’s OK, but the onus is now on you to do the work.”
Even if it’s a vegetable farm in your backyard, Mr Tawake said, utilise the land.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Cecilia Sagote of Seki Media
Move over Lancome and Pink Clay!...FENIU skincare has arrived!
FENIU skincare; its natural Tongan coconut oil and sandalwood ingredients have a myriad of valuable skincare benefits and anti-ageing properties.
The stunning new cosmetics brand created by 34-year-old Mele Feniu Olivetti of Sydney launched just last month and celebrates Pacific-female entrepreneurship in a competitive beauty industry.
“I wanted to create a skincare brand that empowers and showcases the Pacific Island culture, especially my Tongan culture,” says Mele.
Her business journey began three years ago when she, a single mum of three children, was working full time whilst being supported by her church ministering parents Seini Fifita (Kolomotu’a) & Filimone Olivetta (Navutoka). Mele credits her parents as a driving force in her business.
“I saw my dad break barriers, challenging old school Tongan ways in modern Australian society. His commitment to the community, his unconditional love and believing and supporting my vision inspires me,” Mele adds.
With a Bachelor's degree in International Marketing from Monash University under her belt, Mele knew she had to get her ‘hustle’ on just like her father.
“Combining the knowledge I had with marketing together with working in product development in my own profession, I wanted to create a business with a strong focus on natural products using key ingredients sourced from the Kingdom of Tonga.”
Mele was travelling to and from Tonga to find suppliers but because of her day job, her trips were limited to a few days at a time. She eventually partnered with a youth organisation there in Tonga with a strong agricultural program that included a coconut oil-making sector.
“I am very happy to be working with them and supporting their work too. We have gone through processes of reviving the 'ahi [sandalwood] flavour and fermenting the coconut and 'ahi after it had been cooked for a few days which was one of the trials we did."
“It was important that I was getting the right balance of those ingredients with oils from western culture too that have great benefits for skin. My mum was ultimately the one who decided which balance was best.”
Mele began selling her products online from home when a business proposition came about while taking her orders to the post office before work.
“I was at a cafe getting coffee when I bumped into a friend of mine who is a businessman. He started asking questions about what I was selling. I told him about my product and after seeing my passion for my business, he made an offer and eventually became my business partner. Last year we set up the company Olivissa Pty Ltd and we began rebranding with new premium packaging."
“I wasn’t even looking for an investor at the time. My plans were to continue doing this from home until I could grow the business overtime and hopefully quit my job. I wanted a better work-life balance so I could enjoy being with my children - that was my motivation for starting a business. But this business deal fast-tracked those plans. I am so happy to now be running FENIU full time; enjoying watching my children grow & being happily engaged to my fiance Opeti Manoa.”
Growing up, Mele used Tongan coconut infused oils for her face, body and hair. She describes it being the only form of nourishment for her skin and a common beauty regime in Tongan households in the islands. So it’s no surprise that she decided to explore beauty as a way to start a business. She wanted to create a product that links back to her Tongan culture - one that is rich in organic resources, history and customs and to share this with the world.
“I wanted a brand that encompasses tradition while embracing a new and evolving generation. I also wanted to design a product that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. With help from our graphic designers, I was able to achieve a premium packaging using the 'tokelau feletoa' tongan pattern within the logo and a clean white and gold branding.”
She named her brand FENIU which is her middle name, passed down through women in her father’s lineage. The name is also fitting in that the word NIU means coconut.
Featuring Tongan models on her marketing material was imperative for Mele. Her friend, Miss Universe New Zealand Diamond Langi, who Mele says has been a great support, is one of the stunning models featured on the FENIU advertisements.
“I want to see our faces represented on beauty billboards and magazines. I asked beautiful Tongan women I knew or had come across to be part of my launch campaign and they have become part of the growing FENIU family. We’ve formed sisterhoods and brotherhoods and I'm blessed with every one of our models and creatives who have given their time and talents.”
FENIU was set to launch in March this year, but due to Covid-19 the launch was postponed. After much preparation last year and a lot of soul-searching, Mele and her team decided to go ahead and launch during the pandemic and accepted that this ‘risk’ may not attract as many sales as they would like. However, she believed that her story and journey could shine a positive light instead during uncertain times and so the launch went ahead on August 8th.
Surprisingly, Mele says since the launch, sales of her products surpassed her expectations.
“I am so glad we launched when we did. Our community around the world have been so supportive. When borders reopen we will be travelling abroad and sharing FENIU with the world. We are currently online and will be looking to occupy retail spaces soon."
“Our hope is to expand FENIU into fashion, accessories and hardgoods made in the islands to help create employment opportunities and much more.”
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Cecilia Sagote of Seki Media
You can take the boy out of the village but you can’t take the village out of the boy.
That phrase couldn’t be more true when describing Managing Director Seiuli Simei Kolio’s approach to his Koko Samoa business.
Seiuli, 30, grew up in the remote Savai’i village of Sasina and is a village boy at heart. And it is his early years growing up there that forms a foundation for the business.
“I’ve just been very blessed in my life,” he says. “I had the best childhood in Sasina. I had the best youth in New Zealand and then moving to Australia at the age of 22, I was able to gain corporate professional experience as well which helps too.”
Now based in Melbourne, Seiuli runs the Koko Samoa business which he registered two years ago, whilst giving back to his beloved village where 14 staff are currently employed in Samoa.
“At the beginning, we had challenges building a team without a lot of monetary resources but I am so happy with our efforts. We have a solid team back in the village and abroad. We have a common goal and understanding and that is critical. It is so important to have the right people on your team and surrounding you.”
His 'Koko Samoa' branding with sophisticated and fun packaging sets his product apart from competitors and also emphasises the authentic quality of the koko. It is this unique packaging that is favourable with many of his consumers who also use Koko Samoa for such things like gift boxes and recipes.
“A lot of information went into the logo designs with the help of my colleagues Delsa Danielson and Reynard Muliaina. Stunna No Limits in Otara Auckland also helped with the final touches.
“We have to cater for the traditional Samoan market that appreciates simplicity while also having an eye popping quality product that is easily recognisable globally and relatable to our younger generation too.”
Another unique element in the business is the use of a membership selling model in addition to traditional retail selling and wholesale orders. The advantages of having a membership model include customer retention, regular income and predicting profits.
“My biggest priority at the moment is building our memberships of those that want to be a part of what we stand for and what we are trying to accomplish and that includes creating opportunities, especially employment, for our community in Samoa.
“For 12 dollars a month or 144 dollars a year, we will send you 12 Koko Samoa throughout your membership as well as other bonuses. We are working on exclusive footage of what becomes of the contributions our members are making. We have a collective goal and a collective effort to contribute to the progress of our Pacific people.”
Seiuli says his faith plays a huge part in the business’s strategy.
“Reaffirming my strength in ‘let go let God’, I’m a big believer that we are capable of way more if we don’t let fear or uncertainty dictate our actions. That is something I always try to remember.
“And taking that leap of faith - that leap being work. You must do the work.”
**Seiuli would like to dedicate this article to his late beloved relative Tui Tiupita Samuelu, one of his biggest influencers whom he credits for his constant encouragement throughout the years.**
For more Information about Koko Samoa visit www.kokosamoa.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into their business centre and have a cup of koko at 1278 Heatherton Road, Noble Park, Melbourne, VIC
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Cecilia Sagote of Seki Media
When Ama Hemana, 26, started university years ago, she wanted to get into law, then politics, then journalism. She finally settled on studying business.
When she studied her first marketing paper, she was intrigued.
“I was blown away by how much information was immediately applicable to anything,” she says.
At the time, her sister Venna had started her own beauty business LashFix, the perfect ‘guinea pig’ for Ama to put her marketing theory into practice.
Six years later, Ama’s marketing style has been credited as a big factor in LashFix’s success in Australia.
“People often ask me ‘who does the marketing for LashFix?’” she laughs.
“My sister and I are both in a place in our business where we are happy and growing considerably and now we are both teaching our own ‘trades’. So it was natural for me to offer marketing as a service.”
Ama has named her brand, ‘Ama Zin’ Marketing, a play on her own name - one that she believes her business can live up to.
Before Covid-19 hit Melbourne, Ama had started teaching her sold out workshops in Auckland and Melbourne.
“I was so nervous,” she laughs. “My first workshop in Auckland was face to face and I was sweating like crazy. I kept shaking and stuttering and then I did the same during my first online workshop!”
“It's a scary feeling to say you're good at something and to try and stand out especially as a Polynesian woman. We're taught to be humble and quiet but when you're running a business and need to get clients, you can't do that staying quiet.”
She adds that a little prayer before her workshop does wonders. As well as stepping out of her comfort zone with a ‘just do it’ attitude.
“The feedback has been amazing so far, especially around the topic of clarity and how one can operate as a business on their own terms.
“My workshop is based on marketing your business as a reflection of who YOU are as an individual not what you think your business is supposed to be like. If you have a look at LashFix we are not and have never been your typical beauty bar and that’s what has helped us stand out from our competitors.”
She is using this Covid lockdown time to co-ordinate more mentoring workshops for small businesses as well as improving on her popular video “lives” on social media which her followers tune into - something she continues to try and master confidence in.
When asked to offer advice to other start-ups, Ama hones in on some common errors she notices other businesses do.
“A lot of businesses are posting on social media just to post or just to grow their follower count, which can be helpful for business but without a strategy or lack of direction and it's ineffective. We're too busy worrying about popularity instead of converting our follower count into dollars.”
You can book into the amazing Ama Zin Workshop here: https://lashfix.com.au/products/ama-zin-marketing-workshop?variant=32148716126257