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.”