TALANOA WITH HUPFELD EVERS HOERDER: SHARING HIS ARTISTIC AND ACADEMIC JOURNEY-WELCOME EVERYONE!
And the and Tiffany with a war and And thank you so much everyone. I know everyone is looking forward to this TALANOA tonight. We've been so blessed with amazing. speakers from ROTUMA coming over to be part of my program. this week we
started off with Professor. From the University of Hawaii, Manoa here in Honolulu in Hawaii, so we've been so blessed that you could accept my humble request to come over and be part of this program and then. we had the Mitchell who came in yesterday and today we have another guest logging in from the beautiful town of lame. So I'm sure there's some of you who have connections to lame and some of you who are.
Logging in from me. so we have a one of our guests special guests. and his name is I'm sure he's familiar to many of us. Many of us have seen his pictures on newspapers he's been on television. He's represented Fiji and ROTUMA all over the world and so we are so blessed that he also accepted my humble request to be here with us to tell his story on the his journey into the field of. Fashion and design, so I
think at this point we would like to say our wonderful. and heartfelt. I think I'm I'm going to be a bit biased. I'm going to say no
to everybody around the world and. all the listeners. Thank you for your invitation. It's a great honor to be here to share my experience and also to wish everyone. around the world. Happy day. Unfortunately in Fiji, we won't be able to in many places we won't be able to celebrate it. But maybe virtually we can celebrate it like what we're doing now just sharing. the
beautiful island and our people because we're very minority. ethnic group and we're very proud people and because we're from a very small isolated island, which is quite a challenge. Thank you for allowing me to be on the show to share that with you. Thank you. Happy and and I think I was saying to a few of my friends who are contacting me because this last month was Nectar and then this month is the level and in between comes in ROTUMA and so we we mentioned to them look. ROTUMA is a very special place for us in Fiji as I was saying to our other speakers last week with Missus Marietta, Remo and for the other speakers too, I mentioned you know when I was growing up the only thing I remember even on the news on the. Is. you know that is
always attached to Fiji on so many things, but then my my experience when I was in New Zealand was that you know ROTUMA was hardly mentioned even within the circles of Fiji and then I noticed that ROTUMA was always in the shadows of Fiji and through my experience of working in the Fiji in the Oakland Museum, where we were able to separate. the ROTUMA artifacts, they were beautiful art. And the baskets and the fans from ROTUMA and the staff at the Oakland Museum thought that they're all from Fiji. but when I saw it, I knew they were from ROTUMA. So that's how kind of you know everything started and I was in my mind. I was
thinking no, you know ROTUMA deserves to have their own spotlight moments. so it's this kind of little things that I try to do through this online platform to have not one but not 2 weeks of ROTUMA leading up. The week next week. so happy for you know coming and joining us on the program. Thank you. Thank you.
ironically, speaking with your experience in Auckland, so I had a very similar experience when we went to showcase in London and he went to we went to Cambridge University and I think last year the 2 years ago, I think the not the prime minister the president. went up so the museum has a Fiji collection and I. Similar to what you did, I did because we were going through so as of God and he had heaps. I mean if you go to that museum. in London. one thing that struck me was I was you know not ashamed. I
wouldn't use that word but our museum in Fiji and and II know there's a group that's trying to raise funds to because it was going to shut down here, but that museum had collections which out. On what we had in Fiji, so as a god, we have gifts from every part of Fiji dating back to the early 1800s and gifts, and so he had a mat which was I think labeled wrongly and then I said I looked at him and I said this is not noisy because they had labeled it as from one part of Fiji, like or something and I said I can swear to you. This is what I call the curator and I said, I think you need to correct it. This is not someone
nor nor fijian. I could tell the way the weaving was done that the Deco I mean. It was so intricate and I said this is what two men II can guarantee I can with my life when needed, so they actually documented that and made that change because it was the only. only evidence of. you know artifact
that he had that he was given a gift and unfortunately they didn't. documented and recorded you know properly. so I was very very proud to actually recognize that yeah. So can you imagine that particular item was older than me and probably my parents? Yeah. People and then I just told them and then the interesting thing they wanted to know more about ROTUMA at that very moment, and they didn't know that they were 2 months in Oakland and so that's why in the year of 2017, I think we had ROTUMA was it. Yeah. I
think we started just 1 day just for to invite all the recruits to come in. so that was I think a huge shift, particularly for Oakland Museum to recognize the you Know II. don't like the word minority group sometimes, but I think at some point it can it can be used. You know because it often referred to small islands. Yeah, like ROTUMA, but now it seems like no we need you need your own platform. Yeah. Yeah.
that's totally agree with you. So yeah and it'll be interesting to see. I think in the future I think you know with government like the Fiji Museum can work with the You know the association in to. When they have aids, it's not the traditional dances and the food but it would be nice. I
mean with everything normalizes like if we could also have a week that coincides with ROTUMA day like it's like what you're doing and have you know, we have a lot of recruits who are you know artists in different areas? specialization and could have like an exhibition at the museum where children with and descent. There's a lot of opportunities of into married and have children and for many of them that still live in Fiji have not been to a tumor. do not know. it's very sad because I teach at university and. some
a park Park and you know they they don't know who or where they're from or what a particular ceremony is and you know and and having that exhibition will educate you. Generation. Yeah, because you don't think it's very important. I think it's very
important. I mean regions have realized that because you know you know you know the modern we're going to modern times with social media, but if we do that, then that's one way of preserving and the conservation of our language culture tradition etcetera. So it's very very interesting. Yeah I will definitely I'm taking notes and I will. have a little Tylenol with the director for Fiji. to see.
Raised and it may be leading up to this very moment through the creative work and the education that you have acquired over the years. and yeah, okay. my my name is HUPFELD. We have German heritage. but
I'm I'm a very proud woman My mother is from LA and my father has linked to which I'm proud of where I come from II think I know you hear this. A lot of people too. It's such a small island and I think everybody's related somehow. so I was born and raised in Fiji I've been to a couple of times and I think I need to go back to. I always. There's like a sense of belonging for most of us with humans. It's really good to feel connected and and and to go back and to you know to appreciate your your your tradition. your culture your
roots and also to be inspired by the people. who are very hardworking. I'm not saying that because I'm a recruiter but generally a very hardworking ethnic group. You
know. so I grew up in in I went to school here my primary and secondary school. I went to the primary school. and the grammar I went to my, You know I finished from six to two grammar. and then I went into. hospitality and tourism. so I
joined the catering school where I am I was always a very II noticed that when I was young at school, I was in. let me see I was late. You know not really into academia at that point in time, so I love to work with my hands and being creative. so I think hospitality was the area. III really looked at you know because I love meeting people and and and and you know doing things with my hands and learning different things that you know in hospitality, they have different departments and so work in the hotels for about fifteen to. 1615 1617 years,
depending on where I started. From the Cove resort to the Hyatt Regency before it change to the war. the Sheraton Fiji when it first opened. Came down to holiday in the Grand Hotel before it closed and opened so you know quite a few years of background in in hospitality and I'm when I'm talking about hospitality because I'll show you the link from my creative side how it's linked from hospitality gradually into art, but I've always had that artistic flair in school. I was very artsy and I wanted to become an architect. and I wasn't ready for university.
because you know I think. I wasn't matured enough and I want to say that to my students, university is not about. You know nobody cares whether you were the ducks in your school because at university, it's a totally different level. It's all about discipline and maturity, and I would say maturity because I was a matured student, then when I came back to us and I did my economics degree. you will see that when I talk about like introduction, I've had a very diverse. It's it's very
diverse but also very complementary to each other. so my undergraduate was in economics and then I graduated. I never even dreamed to become a teacher, I found a teaching job. FIT at school where I
studied and I talked for about 9 years. after that, I very fortunately and God Bless II won a scholarship one of the last recipients for FAB for Affairs Board to do my masters in. in Brisbane in in Australia. so my masters in international tourism and hospitality management, so my undergraduate graduate is economics. my master's was in.
And as you know that my PHD that I'm going to pursue soon is actually designed you see very diverse but very complimentary and related because the artistic flair went through all those three areas and I chose that because I wanted to sit on my business benefited me because I had the economic side and the business side of things at university, I teach hospitality management at 10200 level and part of it is event management and event management is all. Creativity see me creating menus all that has to do with creativity so when I was in primary school, most of my primary school teachers remember me as you know happy that you know who would love to draw on his books and draw on everything that I come on and I'll tell you a very funny story, one of my favorite teachers. you know, they say you remember the the teachers who are nasty to you and you remember the teachers that were nice to you. so I haven't seen this one. Her name was missus Marley Marley. She's still alive. I met her last
year. We haven't seen each other for 5040 odd years and I was in MCC and she heard my voice. She didn't know where I was and she said. her die and then I turned and I looked and I said this is my man you look exactly the same. She was my classmate teacher, so she was one of those teachers that inspired me because she would get me to draw murals on big sheets of. butcher's paper, you know and the kids would paint after I brought turtles and things and you know. Of what it
was and so she was one of those people. I mean a lot of teachers inspired me and I'm just so happy that you know all all to God was with me and my family is I have come from a very strong close knit family. Unfortunately, my father died a few years ago. I have a brother
and two sisters and my I lost my brother to which is very. it. It's it took like it was like a family like we lost a limb and I think many people. Can identify to that because I'm sure everybody's lost a loved one in their family but it teaches you to be stronger. It definitely did teach me to be stronger and to be grateful and to be. you know know that
life is short and and you know to to just just be just be grateful and especially at this time, but you know with what we have and and you know you know that you know don't complain and and win because you know people out there were softer in your situation. so it taught me that in so many things more and I'm still learning. I always like to say. Still learning
because even though I'm an established people categorize me as an established designer. you know, I'm still learning I you know. you never sort of learning something new every day because you better yourself in terms of a designer because it just makes you humble and you'll be more. you have the
more humility and appreciate life more better and and yeah, and so my I've just thought about 12 years that we are where I am now is I'm at university. I've been very fortunate so I'm going to. sectional contract. I love it because I teach at UCP for 3 days in a week and then I'm with the business on other days. And and I enjoyed it because you are able to balance both and appreciate both because I love my teaching. I
love the students and unfortunately has gotten a not so very good. You know the politics, but I don't get involved with that. I think you love your job and we appreciate what you do that you do your best and and and you learn from it and I'm still learning like I said. So yes, I think you
know my the the the press release that Alan did which I wanted to keep it private but I mean I'm grateful. Ellen for you know, being one of my referees, I won a scholarship to the University of New South Wales, and it's the first because my boss wanted me to do my PHD in a hospitality tourism because my background is there and because I teach tourism and a lot of people think Oh do you teach FASHION and I said no I don't. My heart was in with the hospitality industry, although II love it very much and I with my PHD and you would know that Doctor T is that you gotta do something that you're very passionate about and and and I found something that I was passionate about. so the scholarship was and II acknowledge. Ron. I think he's
in Hawaii, too. Yeah he's here in Honolulu. It was so I stumbled across his Facebook page, which had an advertisement which is the research scholarship. It's a
research. And it is fully funded by the Australian government so one of the criteria requirements is that you've gotta write a letter to introduce yourself to the to the principal supervisor The primary supervisor who was very nice and she knew who I was when I opened the links to the to the research scholarship. It's very, very funny because the photo they had on the research scholarship was my clothes they had my she had come down to and took a photo so I was like. You know, I said to myself, I want my mom and I said mom, I'm going to apply for this scholarship. I can feel it already that this is my scholarship II know I so I prayed and you know, of course I applied and put everything through you know, Doctor Don Gibson and Doctor Steve Pratt professor Steve Pratt with my referees academic referees at used to be at that time.
Professor Pratt was my my boss and he was very excited. so yeah, I'm looking I just spoke to my super. Yesterday because of the challenges we go through produced during the lockdown, our borders are closed and Australia is closed so we're trying to make I might have to start start to October, I might not be able to go in July but yeah, so you know it's really nice to and my supervisors been very accommodating. She's a professor here of course. she's been to Fiji a couple of times she's very much aware of the Pacific and the designers and she's really. Looking forward
to starting and I think it's I've never looked forward to something in terms of research like this one because I'm very passionate about it and I know that it's going to inspire and improve FASHION in the Pacific and not just me learning but other designers. so I'm really glad this has happened and and it's all I mean I'm just going to give all credit to God because I wouldn't be sitting here. talking to you with I know all my scholarships my economics degree undergraduate my my master's scholarship.
Like like many of you out there for gyms, we've been blessed because. you know we didn't win the scholarship means you know we're helping our fellow back home. Yeah. So I'm happy. I'm just so pleased to see you know you're the journey. you know that you took for your degree and for your masters and now with the congratulations. Thank you, you know from all of us.
It's very exciting to go into the field of research. Like the point you mentioned about the academic studies you mentioned the two qualities of discipline and maturity, and that's absolutely right and I think for many of the parents who are listening in tonight or or even those who are contemplating going into university studies, Those are the two very important qualities so that you can be able to do the very best that you can do and contributing back to your community. That's that's. Wonderful and thanks to for putting it up on his page, Ron is always someone who shares you know information about academic studies and I love what you said when you saw the advertisement and you saw the image of the one of the dresses that you actually designed so I was going to ask you. how did you go into the field of DESIGN? In the first place, like what what what was the turning point for you that this is an area that you're going to kind of like hone in your skills? Okay? It's something that I stumbled into like or something that I planned like when I was at like I said when I was in primary and secondly, I was very II knew that I had this artistic player. I know
I'm not like you know how people say that Oh when I was a young kid, I wanted to become a designer. I know that never even came close to stumbling on. and that's why I said. Played a very important role in pivoting my, You know my I like to say my career or how I stumbled it so I was in my so when I was at the secondary school, I did the architecture, which is TD I wanted to become an architect. I later on later on in life when I researched the designers like Carl Leger. you know all this house designers a lot of them and it it really. III Really, it
really like moved me because and I'll say I'll tell you the relationship between architecture and design. a lot of them studied and want to become architects. and so the similar thing with me and and when you look at it it's very it's very similar in every way it's about creativeness. It's
about construction of houses and buildings and in DESIGN we talk about construction of the garment and it's all about. The importance of accuracy. thinking out of the box so all of those things were very similar. so I did my second year at university like I said I was in scholarship. So just my, you know we will give out allowances So when I was in my second year, I was making a lot of people who know me from way back in my humble beginnings, you know I come from an average family working class family. my parents, you know like you know we start I lived in Keno and then we moved to Laramie and I grew up with all the kids where we celebrated Diwali. we
celebrated Christmas Easter. You know we knew what it was like. You know growing up together and you know I never forgot that I mean all of them are in different parts of the world. So I just need extra money for you know printing in those days we didn't have Facebook and things we got the bus and you know, II still love it. I think it was just you
know. it's not. it's not not about the hardship but when you when you go through, you know having classes late that you need like you finish a tutorial from six to eight and then you catch the basketball goal and you're so tired and you have to do an assignment You appreciate all those times When you look back some of my friends we chat and we say you know you know dedicating. All the time like I said, you know you're matured and you know at the end of the of the third year, you know you want when you receive your degree or a piece of paper, you know that you have dedicated and you put your time in for that. So in my second year, I did beach bags bags. They're called beach bags and I sewed them so I would study during the day do assignments at night to come home Pull up my machine at I was self taught. Remember
I didn't go to design school because we didn't have designs for in Fiji. we had you know. Textiles and that's totally different from the has to do with DESIGN, but so I was self taught so I was making this beach bags bags and then slowly what I did is, I took my little sister's, We were growing up and my Mom II used to take to tack. I mean for those of you who don't know what tacking is or we can pick you you unpack a dress. It's very simple shift dress laid out and then I would cut out the pattern and learn from scratch and then. Was garment construction and then and then it's carried on from there and that I was up to it and when I finished my degree in 1998, I graduated. I won a scholarship also.
was given a scholarship to the Australian. and only 111 place for. Fashion design scholarship to MIT I wanted to share this because I know that some people know the story, but there's there's there's there's there's something I want to talk about here so I won a scholarship I was ready to go to Australia to RMIT in Melbourne. Unfortunately the day that I received the scholarship was the day the the military takeover happened in 2000.
2000. I didn't cry or say, oh my god look what's happening What happened is that I withdrew all the new scholarships like my one and all the continuing on stage students continued what they would do all the all the scholarships across the board because what was happening. so what I wanted to express here for those who are listening and for especially young ones, you know all that they were that that negative something negative happened in your life or something that you didn't get basically means that you don't stop there. So what I did is that. Okay, I didn't get the
scholarship I just persevered. I learned I went and got books from the library. I've read the internet was there I learned II was shocked, so I taught myself, but if you if you love something so much and you're passionate and you want to learn you can teach yourself like in today anybody can go on YouTube and Google and learn to make anything. yeah you can you can almost learn anything and and anything that you love so so that's what I did. so my point the beauty about it was that you know I didn't get this. And you know, I'm not going to sit back and cry II just persevere it so I ended all these shows that came up the show if you watched John Ad and Ellen Show and Fashion Week last night, we had the show we had the Red Cross show these were charity shows. We're here
to apply for them and put them in our dresses in and then everything just kicked off from there, you know winning an award and I always said you know I didn't have to win for me. What was what was very important was not about the winning and I always tell young designers here. it's not about. It's just you know your your product, you're just on the catwalk. you know you've seen your work exhibited should give you is winning itself. You know the the The extra is just winning, but it's not it's not all about winning. not not everybody wins and then it's you know you learn to grow from there and so that's that's what I did and. you know my cousin
who was on last night was I think she was a chairperson, a champ of the president of the Fiji Arts Council and. She had you know she linked us as I have this opportunities and there was an opportunity in Bahamas in 2008 and I took up that opportunity. so I applied for it's like applying for a job and you have to put in your credentials. You have to win National awards and I was very fortunate to be invited to school islands of the world's fashion week was the first ever in the Bahamas and I went there and I won two was run up for two categories, which was the.
cultural award and Echo award, which is a sustainable just that has. A theme for sustainability so it with my mom if we paid our own fees, we pay our airfare and you can imagine it cost a lot of money My mom and dad has been the greatest supporters and my family my friends a lot of my friends from high school. There's so many to and I and one of the things that and II know you know and many of you will know is that. success is also you know supported if you have the biggest support from your family and your friends, you'll never you know that. One one important factor because they believe in you, I've had people like, for example, someone who's been with me all the way like she's more. It's
family. Bernadette runs Manila She's been a very close friend and you obviously many of them know that she models a lot of my addresses. I make addresses we we actually have fun doing them together because we look at themes and she's modeled and I've won a lot of awards. We work together a lot, so you know the support what I'm trying to say is the support is very very important when you have establishing designer or whatever career you get into If you're a family, you have to make sure your wife or your husband. you know, supports you
you and children because that's that's very important for many of us that live in Fiji, you know. so just so lovely you know that you mentioned you know the support from mom and dad. you know so if. Mom is listening tonight I just want to acknowledge her and I'm sure the other parents who are listening in tonight as as well, You know, acknowledging all the amazing support.
Definitely you know if we have parents who allow their children, you know to follow their heart in whatever pathway or. career that they wanted to do that is amazing. You know it's kind of it's a kind of a sense of empowerment right you know they allow you to think free. Because when you think freely you're allowed to allow yourself to be creative right and to have that courage to face whatever you're going to face like even for that scholarship, that was taken out because of the tool right, it didn't stop you from there. you
kept going you didn't. I think I like the what you said you didn't go to a corner and cry, but you kind of like right. The scholarship is gone. What will
I do exactly so you go up there and try and teach yourself. Yeah, that is awesome. And I think also at the same time I'd like to acknowledge teachers thanks thanks to Mrs MAI MAI.
He's your class five teacher. I hope if anyone is listening in tonight who knows missus MAI MAI just so we can collectively thank her for recognizing the skill you have the the doodling and. you know the drawing I I've seen some of my classmates who do that in the middle of the class, but. All depends on what the teacher do what do you think? do they get the what do you call do they get? to to? after school detention? It's either you go for detention or and happy. Can you take the lead in this project and help draw a turtle on this wall? Yeah. It's amazing. Yeah. And
then that's what she did. That's what she did because if you read my reports when I was a young kid, I had a very. Short concentration span I think I still do but. to to to get get me to keep still and don't bother other students. she would do that to me. something else. I would like to
take note of and I think parents will learn is that you know during that time in the 1980s 1970s when I was growing up and I spoke about this to my mom and dad my dad was. let's just say he when I first went to the designing he was like, okay. Why you? Doing this, and you know he's a very traditionalist my mother, although who she grew up in my dad grew up in Fiji. My mother
was more of a very modern thinking. you know, but my dad learned to appreciate what I did. he'd come you never knew anything about the design, but he was very proud and he would come to the shows. you know after the show finished and then he would go. but he always support me that way I mean, and he lived and II usually talk about this to my friends and I hope hopefully and I pray that the mindset changes in Fiji was that we were too fixated in Fiji. I mean even you. As I
speak and I hope that that changes when I went for teacher training. I stood up and I said that you know when you when we're growing up, it's like you're going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, everybody was so into academia and all that and nobody talked about art and and and becoming and you say you're becoming an artist. They was like, shut up and sit down like that. That's not a job. I mean you know. are the most creative people beings. I know, Ellen says that
and II can answer that you know we have. Around us that that we do we we paint and we're very expressive people I mean and and also with the humans like you said. so the education system needs to have you know in schools. where they can
nurture students if they're not academically, you know inclined to that they're going to get them to do something that they're passionate about. and that's what I was always good at. I'll tell you I was really good at technical training. I would work and network. I knew all what we did and I thoroughly. Doing it because I
love working with my hands. Yes, I mean, obviously later, you knew that I went into academia but if I had, I was talking to a friend of mine, she's an amazing artist if we had proper teachers who are who are our teachers and they gave us, you know a different option. Yeah, I'm sure we would have you know went to art school and you know I mean, I'm not betting anything. I mean, it's just turned out the way that God had you know faced out our destiny, but I'm I'm just saying that in Fiji the education system. To
accommodate the music art and you see the raw talent, we have, I mean I talk to different artists musicians who come home and it's just you know these are we're talking about artists who have who have who didn't go to art school and I'm talking in general, also in the Pacific like Can I go to Papua New Guinea and we go to the markets? Yeah. Oh goodness these people are so talented. It's just amazing. Yeah. It's just it's been amazing. Oh man look at that. That's so that's a lesson for many of us parents and maybe those of us who for those who are friends who are.
At the Ministry of Education, you know to maybe help shift right that way of thinking shifting it from within the teacher's fear within the classroom and also parents at home when they talk to their children, You know, I'm sure the parents are the best teachers for the children. They'll know from home who likes to be you know bending the pots at home, you know. then love for music. Maybe they want to be into that field. You know what about those who. We
just sit there for hours just drawing and drawing. maybe that's those turning points where they can be able to be empowered to say hey. yeah.
you see those kind of word of empowerment, It doesn't have to be you know from outside the home, but if it's from the home and they're not happy. yeah, it has everything. Also mentoring a designer in Papua New Guinea, a young talented artist. He's an artist
and upcoming designer. He's he's going to do really well. and also I have a have a young That's with me. I'm training
him and teaching he's from Nana. He's very talented. It's not in our early application process, so what happened is the young designer That's with me I was already mentoring him before the actual this mentorship program started so I actually hired him to work with me for 3 days, so he travels from Nana He did a certificate in FASHION with a BTC and so he was looking for a job so I hired him for 3 days and when I hired him, I teach him things and he does stuff for me so we work. We work together. He comes from a very
big family in in and village. He's very talented. so he's he's a he's got a very good mind so just trying to help him out, you know because he doesn't come from a very affluent background so you know where we can help. It's it's important so and the guy from PNG when I went to do a workshop, he asked me if I if he could if I could. Online all the time and we talk about what he can use because he's an artist by profession and he wanted to go into DESIGN So II help him out advising him on the types of fabrics he could use with the sketches and art and stuff so. it's the best I can help you especially at this time and it's fulfilling trying to help out these young individuals.
and so just just one thing I wanted to highlight was last year. We had one student. He was a boy and even my. My own mentee the guy that I'm mentoring, especially like I'm just saying you know. he went back home and he got a lot of how should I say some negative you know just because he's a guy and he's going into session and there's a stigma. That's
right and II think I think we need to come away from that and and and you know you know the the sort of oh that's so that's only for girls. Yeah, it's kind of like. Could be motivating for him. and he was kind of
upset, so I just want to point out that you know if you want to help someone and you know you can go into depression and you know all the when when you're a young person and you want to set your goals and your own relatives and your own family. do that you know not as your immediate family is very much supported by his mom and dad, but it's just it's his extended family who are doing that it. It's kind of disheartening for me. II felt this so I said to him look if your heart is. In it and I will
support you and just focus on it just pray about it and and and you'll be fine, I told him that only God will help you and you know we can't change the mindset of people but like you said, which I really like what you pointed out was you know parents play that very important role to nurture to encourage to empower and you're not going to do that to your child and how can you? expect your child to be successful? You know. whatever they do all that nurturing has to come from you and that mindset. To be like put aside you notice that when with COVID-19, I hope a lot of people realize that that people losing their jobs, the next best thing they move into is and I always encourage my students even when I'm teaching, food and beverage and hospitality, I say to them look. You're young now learn a dance learn to weave. learn to
play music. do a learn to draw plant food. learn a skill because you're a Pacific Islanders. You're good at doing plenty of market. We are born like that we've gotta encourage our young you know you don't have to pay one instrument If you know how to play ten instruments all the better and. it's just you know like I should be learn every day. I
mean, make sure. Person and you meet new friends. It's it's it's it's like you know for me. personally, I can say that you know those are my experience It develops you as a person, you know a lot of people say oh, my mom says when I joined hospital, she said. Did you know that tourism is the lowest speed? I said Mom, I know I got $2 forty working as a night auditor at the at the old travel Lodge. I went to the
travel lodge a little years ago. I said, I knew it was $2 for I didn't save anything but I can you know I. I can't say that. all those years didn't
teach me anything it developed me as a person it built my confidence, I became more creative, I became more tolerable. I'm more patient and it builds you as a person. so if you can learn to dance if you can learn to play an instrument, you can learn art you can do anything outside your your your career, It just adds on to it because people have lost their jobs are not going back to that. in Fiji
Airways or in the hotels, they're going back to what they they learned or their grandparents taught them and they're benefiting from it. Most of them don't want to go back to where they were. They are making a good earned money.
It's a negative. impact that happened, but I look at the positives. that's come out of it and people have benefited so that's amazing. Yeah. That is so true. I'm glad you know you
mentioned how about those things so learn how to dance. Learn how to weave plant sing a song play an instrument look at that and I think with COVID-19 a lot of people who were you know you were saying they had good jobs or even our dear friends who have lost their jobs as flight attendants. It is so hard. You know to see many of them. exploring the creative side, for example, is a lady. speaking of Nana because you've got a mentee from Nanna and I have a soft spot for Nana. there's a
million. you know she's based in Anoka and now she's got AA catering business and you know she's doing some you know interior decorating to help with the management and the list goes on. I'm hoping to invite her. You know to come on my program too because she is such an an inspiration. A woman who moved away you know from something that was to do with travel and hospitality and all of that and now going on to this artistic side, organizing she's such an amazing organizer so they just the thing you mentioned. so wonderful for you
happy to be encouraging your students to think outside the box. Yeah II mean that's amazing. If you get on, I would really love to hear from her because that would be inspiring because. for many of them. Wouldn't have known I mean if if that didn't happen. I mean, and we have a lot of success stories in Fiji. where and it's so wonderful to you one one of the beauty of of of all this is that for many of them just packed up took their families and moved back to the villages so that it's quite difficult because for many of them, their children weren't brought up in the villages. They are there's
always challenges, but the beauty about it is that you have less less expenses. you need organic food. There's no internet. so what. you know your children play with other kids. They learn the tradition
and culture in the village they reconnect with their cousins and you hear beautiful stories that reporters are put out and documentaries. It's just wonderful to hear that because you know these parents would would really you know. Thank God for everything that's happened. Their children are benefiting. you know they go to the the school just down the road and that's truly amazing. people have moved back to the islands. You know it's it's.
Really, you know you know COVID is obviously it's a negative but these are the positive wonderful stories that we hear so that's wonderful. Yeah here in the and I have to say to that one of the. the offshoot of COVID-19 is this very program that we are doing right now they were talking and now I was thinking that COVID-19 didn't happen. I wouldn't have.
been encouraged to do a digital platform like this because I remember a year ago, I was thinking of children you know who are at home on lockdown and you know. Would be bored and all of that, and then I was encouraged by my family to say to encourage me and said, Oh mom you can you know you can sing you can teach the kids the the names of the Alphabet you know the animals the fish and all of that. So then you started and it's moved from that to now. so it's really nice to see the positive side there. Yes, Yes. III saw that and II think that's wonderful. Congratulations. I thought it
was a brilliant. Because I think you know one of the things that it would benefit is of course our local students here, but also fis who are living as far as London who have their children and they're born there and they don't speak or they speak a little bit. I mean the parents are always busy and you know you're having that program will encourage them to come on and learn you know very basic vernacular and that that's very important and the same can go for two men, you know like and that's wonderful. Thank you for you. Bring this on and accommodating that that's just wonderful. Yeah. you know it's just you know so empowering on all on so many levels. Yeah even for me
when I'm preparing for my online classes, you know I'm learning so much as well and also I've got to see the talents that my children have and so I've got to value them because my son is really good with technology and and my daughter is very autistic. So the same thing I kind of like oh maybe I should use. Behind the scene, you know to help support me, which is really wonderful and then mister comes on board to you know, become a cultural adviser so everything that you see online on my platform is all to do with the whole family family. That's wonderful. that's beautiful. That's very beautiful. II just
watched that I talk back show with Ellen Whippy and and John a and the same thing with him he was talking about his You know his career and he talked about again. Going back to what I just said and like with your family supporting you and he was saying that everybody in their family, somebody was doing the logistics somebody was doing the finance he was doing the creative creative side and just like what you're doing so you know it. everything works when you have the family support when they're all. part and parcel of it, you know it's you work together with a common goal and that's that's the beauty about it. Yeah I totally agree Congratulations. and speaking of family, I was just thinking back of your travel to the Bahamas. You know
when you and your mom went in 2000. You know for the show and you know you had to pay your own way. Can you just tell us a little bit as to how you got to get your mom to help you go over to be part of the show, but pay it all the way there. Yeah. So. You know one thing I
talk about my talk to my mentees is you know anything that you do you need to invest in it and we looked at it as an investment. I know my mom because I was you know, II was still at university. I was studying and so I was just relying on my parents so my mom funded that whole trip because she looked at it as an investment not as a liability but an investment because that open doors it opened my eyes to many opportunities. I met a lot
of people. Models were from from New York You know I learned so much a great year I learned from other designers. We made very close friends and we keep in touch today. I'm I'm still getting invited to that show. Because it just puts things into more perspective when you're on an international platform. you learn you come
back you go back to the drawing board You review your designs. you. so yeah we spent a week and a half I think so yeah like I said. my my mom looked at it as a It was not when I got when I got the offer letter because you have to be given an offer letter, It's like coming applying to a university so we have to put an application in yeah and if you get an offer letter like even designers from Bahamas won't even give an offer letter because we we. To a few of them that they weren't given that opportunity, so I was very very fortunate and I always said to my mom, you know, God is good and you know I must make you so this opportunity so she looked at it as as an investment for me, not as a liability because I've learned so much when I come back and and then put that into practice and I've never looked back and you know it cost us. a
lot of money doesn't have to take our own life and we had excess luggage. Fiji Airways was very kind. I mean our trip was was amazing. We had very good people in. Fiji Airways that time it was in Pacific and in LA, which when we checked in so they my luggage to Delta Airways it. it was amazing. You
know, God worked with you when you put your heart and soul into it. Yeah. So we learned a lot. My mom even learned a lot she took believe from work My employer was very supportive even to now my employers. They know that because I teach tourism hospitality but when they know, I have an overseas show they they support me and that that's important. But it's it's quite hard to find employees who support you and they know that you you know you haven't you have a business and you are into another industry so that's very important and so we we reminisce and we keep keep in touch with our friends from the Bahamas. It's and so
from there on we did shows II think I think my mom everywhere my sister tags along too. So we went to London in 2012, we did the the first ever London Pacific fashion show we've been to. Me a couple of times. Unfortunately, I haven't been to Hawaii, so I must come and take a visit when I come to Hawaii. We we I went with my
sister to Hartford Connecticut in New York. These are all the shows that we went to. and then I won a very small scholarship thing to to Shanghai 2 years ago and to study textile design. in. a university where one of our designer. Or has also graduated it's the best design school in China, so I spend some time there and yeah, we've traveled quite a bit I never traveled as much because you know like I said, We went very affluent family might be average working class family. My parents were they work very hard and and because of that that's where I am now obviously. but you know we
learned. yeah. so you know just being humble and know where you where you started just as long as you. Know where you started and where you're from, you'll never go wrong. You know just have humility and and it'll take you to places. That's that's the important part of it and don't forget who you are. Yeah. I know that's absolutely
right. I really like what you said you know when your employer in this case Usb they acknowledge you they value you and they allow you to you know have the time for teaching, but they also allow you to have the time to be able to continue your creative side and your business side. That's awesome. And that's something that maybe you know employers who are listening in tonight, you know to perhaps learn from this experience because if they value their staff members or their employees, then you are able to do much more and you become an ambassador. for your business, but also the place where you get to work. Yeah
exactly. see that allows you that room right to become more creative because you know people if you get boxed in. Yeah, that's that's. Not something good, you need to do to an artist right you need to allow the broom to to be free and to express themselves.
exactly I like to go cranky. and you don't want a very cranky artist. Oh, wow, That is amazing. So my next question I was going to ask you you know with your with your designs if you can explain the inspiration, maybe are there an inspiration you would connect to ROTUMA from your heritage and your upbringing or maybe or quinoa or. that you are surrounded with. So basically because when you do a line a clothing line, you got, there's a thing called the mood Board or a storyboard. So when
you do a collection, we call it, you know, line or collection you have to have an inspiration. What well I'll just to make it more easier for listeners it it has to tell a story. a story like like any artist who's painting a picture or any right that has to tell a story. The same thing applies to a designer when you're doing it. Address or you. lectures for you Are there if I make it just for you. So I've I've
done. I've done this as well so my my niche market is bridal market. I do a lot of bridal wear I do ready to wear and casual resort. So what I do is
I tell like I'm I'm doing it for you. I'll say what I'd like to you know some girls come and say you know I don't know anything about dresses and and design, and can you do something for me you you're the designer you DESIGN one of the first things I. Is. You know what they say I want to just just like this like Princess Diana. so I said, I can that
can be. the the the frame of the dress, but I'd like to design a dress that resembles you who you are. so we'll ask you okay. Where are you from? and then you'll see I'm from here and these are the same elements of my where my village is from. We use the I mean we
use this type of shell so so I would say look I'm going to use some of that. I'm creating it just like that and then it to London before October this year, and that's what I've done. The girl is with two men. mothers are two her father's British and she wants a design to assemble her identity identity who she is. she's a very proud woman. and so that's what I've done. I've I've got. so I merge. The cultural aspect
of the design and into a westernized DESIGN, and so if a girl is from so I did it just where a girl is from. I think one way level whether you use the you know they don't use MAI so it was it was one of my biggest challenges because obviously many of you know that it's a very. it's. it's very strong. It's not like we talk
too. so we we did address it took us a couple of weeks. it's entirely made of and it turned out beautiful. So we cut our shelves, we accessorized it and so I made a traditional dress, which was not not traditional but from traditional the was a contemporary and then I met her white wedding dress for reception. She was a size 1618 girl, but she looks absolutely beautiful in it. so that's what I do Sometimes the inspiration comes from who you are. I tell
the girl don't have a dress. you want to look like that person but you're dress should resemble who you are or what you want to portray. That's basically. That's that's what I'm designing for bridal we are but when I do a collection like I said, I'm going to do a collection you have to come with an underlying theme is it the year of the ocean the year of sustainability and conservation of the forest and the floor. in Fiji. So yes, I'm
very much inspired by traditional motives. Some people are not inclined to that that I understand but you don't have to have a just for. You know that's decorated with Fiji, you can have you know just maybe a car that has a print that signifies it where it's a westernized DESIGN. having said that so I've I've been inspired by so many things so in 2017 when I won, I think 2015 in 2015 when I won Fiji Fashion Week, you know like I said it's not about winning. I took a trip I took about forty students to Japan the Genesis program it. An exchange of
cultural exchange program you know I've I've traveled quite a bit and. Japan is one of those countries that just blew me away. It's just a culture that people it's just amazing people. they're so sincere one of those Asian countries that I've I've I can go back and back and forth. so I love the food. I love the people and the
way they live and their sincerity, so I was very much inspired by the aura. That's the. That beautiful blossom cherry blossom, I came back to Fiji, I was inspired by the cherry blossom and I did a collection where the design the silhouettes were 1950s and my color palettes were like Cherry Blossoms because they come in different colors, but they were called blush and blue, so it was a bridal collection. It was called blush and bloom because it had a very soft pastel pink and it it was very. we just
want one collection that I hold close to my heart and I call the collection the second time. And people say why didn't you call it second time around the second time around is that if you're getting married again, it doesn't mean that you're getting married again. It basically means that you can renew your vows. That's basically what it was. so I
want that I want the CEO Awards the awards this year, so it's not about we need it was very not emotional, but I felt good about winning that award because it was something that I put a lot of time a lot of thought into the process and and and. Each comment I made was with all the love. That's what I said to you know when you do right away you try to certain amount, but you have to put the love into your work. A lot of passion and it'll show in in in the in the work. Yeah.
it's a couple of this is right where I mean, I've I've become very attached to one of them is to a very beautiful girl. A lot of people you know she got married and there was the one regret because she got married in Ireland. I was invited and in Ireland, but in an Ireland of Ireland so because the boy was from Ireland, so I just took us like about two and a half months because we had cut out shelves she went to the 1950s silhouette She didn't want on top of this she wanted her dress to be a reflection of a Pacific Island here because she wanted to show the people there that she was from the islands The Pacific Islands not just PG and. It was it fitted like
gloves, so that's one of the most challenging things about being a designer because I did only one fitting for her here and her next fitting, which is so important was done in Ireland and they treat her like a glove and she looked amazing It's just one of those dishes you you hold close to your heart. I mean, obviously all the dishes you do you. you put your pride in your in your time into it and you put a lot of love into it because you know that this is a special garment for. Who will wear it only for
a few hours? but it has a lot of meaning and a lot of a lot of. time and and and and passion put into it so that that's basically what yeah. Yeah it's sofa. It's not so much the about the money, but it's the satisfaction that you get you know as a designer and then when you see them smile when you see your clients smile and so happy, particularly on those kind of a milestone events. Yeah like where they are. Yeah. It is beautiful for sharing those those personal stories and for. and the family
in in Ireland. they're there the the best in Australia, but they got married in Ireland so a lot of a lot of people went from Fiji to yeah so to celebrate it was beautiful. Wow. That's wonderful. I think she might be related to one of my teachers in Nandi MAI. I think I think so yeah, yeah, it must be connected. and I think I like the fact when you mentioned that it goes back to a story line or you know like it seems like this week's theme is starting off with.
the power of storytelling you know for him, it went back to the storytelling from his father and then now yesterday and now with you so it's really awesome. You know this is something that may be some of us, including myself that you know we take for granted. I come from my mom was a really really. Storyteller and it allows my mind to wonder and you know creative and to be you know to travel to another part of the world just using the power of the mind. So it's really nice that you can use that, but you're putting it on something tangible like it is a clothing that you design. He's and my next question I was going to ask you. happy was to
look at the business the business side because you mentioned your degree was in economics. How did you merge these two together for your design work and your in your business together? So so it's funny because III listen to like I said Ellen and John Apts talk back show like similar to this one yesterday. and Know how you learn like how you learn from your mistakes and you grow you learn from you some people unfortunately, don't learn from the mistakes. The one thing that it's taught me is to because you know I like I said, I don't come from a very affluent family We design business and one thing that John a had actually talked about in his very true, is that it's I'm not talking about just designers. I'm talking about
artists. I'm talking about any business person a lot of them, you know, sell a painting or or a commission with something and. Financial literacy is very important, You gotta teach yourself to learn if you're if you're if you're really bad with the money get somebody do you do the creative part you get somebody else to do the financial management of your company your cash flow. You
must ensure that you have cash flow. You know you can't. You run your business without any cash flow because who are how are you going to pay your employees and how you're going to buy more paint? How you're going to buy more fabrics and I've learned through the years. A lot of people come home and and they see I have a room that's it looks like if you're a shifter, it would be a pantry, but I have a separate room that has all fabrics that I've bought from overseas I've ordered I buy in bulk. and because I saved I saved it because I knew that like like I'm going back. What I talked about my mom, I mean if you need your business to grow and you want to succeed in whatever you do you gotta invest you gotta invest and you will reap the benefits of that investment because you you're not going to you know you you're not going to grow as a business if you're going to, I mean a lot of people you know, probably one of the old designers who've been designing for quite a while and say, ask me. Oh why
haven't you opened the shop? Yeah And I said. II work at nine. Job when I was looking at SB at the moment, I'm very comfortable with my online orders. I do it online because this is the new This is the new millennium and you know having a shop open in Silva. That's
like the operational cost itself like your rent is $4000 a month like seriously, Do the math and you see you divide that by four in a week? How much would you you have to make a thousand to cover your just the rental cost? then you have to pay all the other expenses like your your workers. all the extra expenses. so there's no. For me to open a shop, you have an online shop, There's other ways where you can promote. I
mean I've survived this long and I tell people like so when you talk to young designers, they say, Oh my dream. 1 day is to have a shop and I was like, okay, really think about that. Think about that really really nicely. I'm not saying that people who have opened their shops, but I'm not saying that I'm just saying there are other options where you could choose you know just like education, just like any other field. There are other options. you
can go virtual you can resort to you know I'm. You know takeaways or drive thru. I think there are other options.
you could use you can run your business from the comfort of your home and and and I feel very comfortable with it because I minimize my expense. I still have my orders, people still ordering and and that's all that matters. You know. that's all that matters at the end of the day. you've got to I say to young designers when you put a collection out you have make sure yeah, it's beautiful. it looks lovely. Everybody
likes it, but the main thing is that. Is that collection going to be viable? Will it bring you? your orders? Will it bring capital to your business? That's the main that's the main thing, and if that happens, then you are set you don't have to you can't please everybody because you have to have a market segment. Some people may like to design some may not like it. I mean that's the way it is. That's the world where customers are we. We're you
know some people like to sleep some people don't like that. I still really you can you can also meet your customers have designed around what they're like you know. Do you put a collection and say look my collection has that, but I can put a sleeve on it or I can make it to fit you and and you know make you look beautiful etcetera So at the end of the day, it's all about that so financial literacy planning saving is also very important budgeting for your business because you came out, I mean I've come out this far and you know I come from like like I said. you know, I'm not I
didn't inherit money anywhere, but you know, II keep saying I'm comfortable like I'm I'm doing well. I'm comfortable so and I'm happy I'm content. Yeah. I don't have to be a millionaire. At the end of the day, it's not about yeah, it's just you're with your life and you're happy where you are so that's more important. Wow. That's a really good word.
they're being content and and being happy and comfortable in what you're doing and that is wonderful the beautiful lesson beautiful l