START somewhere — that is the message from renowned Pacific designer Ellena Tavioni to those hoping to get into the fashion industry.
The designer and director of TAV Designs is in the country making plans to manufacture her clothing line in Fiji. Her designs were recently worn by British royals Princess Kate and Prince William during their South Pacific tour last month.
"Clothes are a necessity, right next to food. Everyone needs them, so the demand is there. Start because you want to make a living out of it, that's the best place to begin," she said.
Mrs Tavioni began designing at 17 while helping in her uncle's clothes shop in the Cook Islands. Two years later, she enrolled in design school in Australia and has never looked back.
Her ambition was to be a lawyer.
"I was from a little island and did not know a single thing about fashion. I fell into designing by accident and somehow everything just fell into place. I found out about design school and enrolled but I never thought that it would be this big.
"Even finding out about Will and Kate wearing my designs, I thought someone was playing a practical joke on me when they called to let me know. You have to make sure to design your clothes knowing that someone is going to wear them," she said.
She is excited about manufacturing her clothes from Fiji, saying the market is already established in the clothing and textile world.
Mrs Tavioni is expected to feature a new line of design at the upcoming Fiji Fashion week on October 18 and also speak at the Fashion Forum on October 17.