The jewellery seller

SETAITA Tinai is an inspiration for single mothers in the country.

After a failed marriage, life was a bit tough for the 51-year-old who hails from Naibita Village in Wainibuka, Tailevu.

With nowhere to turn the mother-of-three said she had to find ways to support her family especially her three children who were still in school then after she left her husband.

Ms Tinai said being divorced and having to care for her children was what motivated her to get into the business world.

“When I left my husband 17 years ago, I thought of how I was going to take care of my children as a single mum. Back then I was just a cashier at Food For Less and my wages at that time was not enough because my children were growing,” she said.

“I thought why not start a small business to help support me and my children. I shared this idea to a close friend who encouraged me to start my own business. He even helped me fund my business and I was going to pay back the money he used to help me start my own business.”

She said she started off by selling DVDs along Terry Walk for five years. Unfortunately this venture was not a fruitful one after the copyright issue emerged.

“When they introduced the copyright law I decided to try something else. I felt guilty because I was one of the culprits as I didn’t sell original copies, so I decided to abandon the business in search of something else.”

From there Ms Tinai said she decided to make pottery jewellery like earrings, necklaces and bangles to name a few adding this was something she had learnt from the people of Lawai Village in Nadroga.

She said she opened her stall beside Nabukalou creek in 2011 and has been selling there since.

“I sell souvenirs, dress jewellery such as earrings, necklaces, bangles, and key tags, bags made from tapa, fans and sarongs.

“I don’t make all the jewellery I sell. The ones I make are done according to clients’ preference.”

Ms Tinai added that it usually took about 15 minutes to half an hour to make simple necklaces, which were made during her spare time.

Whenever large orders for jewellery like earrings and necklaces came in she said her daughters normally helped with the work at home, making this business a true family affair.

She said she sells six days a week from 8am to 5pm every day and looks forward to every selling day. I enjoy selling because I am my own boss and I love serving my customers

Business increases during school holidays and the festive season because this was the only time she said students bought jewellery from her.

“On a good day I can have 20 or 30 customers on a bad day I can only serve two customers or nothing at all.”

With the country’s sunny and unfavourable weather condition she said most of the clients bought fans and she had to order more because of the high demand coming in from customers.

Every business has its own challenges and despite what she faced she said she remained positive.

“Since all my children are married I’m the only one who’s selling. Every selling day I have to put up my tent and set my table alone and this is not an easy task.”

On a good day she said she could earn $100 to $150 or $200 and on a slack day sometimes as little as $5.

Ms Tinai encouraged people especially youths to work hard and emphasised that there was no such thing as unemployment.

“Whatever goals you set in life — go for it”.