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Turning talents into cash

Losalini Vuki
Friday, December 08, 2017

SHE resigned from her job only to realise she loves what she does now.

Just as you enter the back of the Suva Flea Market, Timaima Vakarorogo is first to greet you with her big bula smile from where she sits.

Four months into looking after her mother's stall, the sole breadwinner for her husband and daughter said the money she now earns is nothing compared with what she used to get from her previous workplace in Nadi.

Since Mrs Vakarorogo's mother is away overseas for three months, she now runs the business.

Apart from selling salusalu, masi, mats and other items, she sells unique masi wreaths — made from pieces of masi she no longer uses.

"When I saw the plastic wreaths were becoming too common, I decided to think outside the box and create something different," said Mrs Vakarorogo.

"Sure enough people liked it and in just one day, I sold three at the price of $100 each last week.

"I don't have special customers or clients who order from the stall. It's the everyday random customers who help me rake in a lot of income and this right here is the source of income for my family. The money I earn pays for everything, including water and electricity bills, rent, car expenses and our loan from the bank."

With this sort of business, Mrs Vakarorogo said she raked in money every day.

"Most people wait for their weekly or fortnightly pay, but I've realised with handmade items, it sells. This is one of our busiest periods, but it's also a time where we make profit and save because come January to April, business is back to usual."

Another item she said that was high in demand during this time of the year was mats.

"There is always a function somewhere and demands have been high lately," she said.

"It's either for a birthday, funeral, graduation or a baptism and any other occasion. If people prefer to have their names printed on it, we can cater for that.

"Most of the mats I sell were sold to me so what I do is clean these mats or re-weave them if I have to so that it looks new and worth the buy. A few days ago someone came in to buy a set of mats worth $800.

"Besides the money coming in, the positive thing about this business is women here at the market have the chance to showcase their talents and learn from each other. Our handmade work is also our identity and it tells is who we are where we are from."

My only advise is directed to young people," said Vakarorogo.

"Alway try to get out of your way to achieve anything you want in your life and always have that spirit of determination. If you want something, set your mind to it and work towards it. All it takes is patience."

Mrs Vakarorogo's mother has been operating her business for eight years.

She is originally from Mabula, Cicia, Lau and works Monday to Saturdays.

The cost of one stall a week is $90 or $360 a month.

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