A long time family business

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this case Bir Anand chose to follow in the footsteps of his father — and continue a long-time family business selling handicraft products.

As a child, Mr Anand, 34, said he watched his father, a talented jeweller for more than 40 years and shared his dreams. He spent a lot of time at his father’s handicraft stall at the Suva Handicraft Centre learning basic handicraft skills.

Now he operates the stall commonly known as Nicks.

Mr Anand said he got his talents from his father, now retired.

He took over the family business in 2012 and instilled in himself the same passion of turning ordinary seashells into attractive jewellery.

“My dad began this business in the 1980s and I’d accompany him learning the skills of trade and the art of making jewellery,” he said.

“I started off by polishing the necklace until I learnt how to make the jewellery on my own without dad’s guidance.”

“I wasn’t a bright student during my school days but I was very good with my hands especially in making handiworks.”

Mr Anand said he sold a range of jewellery made from local seashells ordered a week in advance from clients who sell seashells in the market.

“Making a necklace is not easy it’s something that needs your undivided attention.

“For me personally if I make a necklace it would roughly take me about two to three hours just to make one — it all depends on the pattern and the shells used.”

He said gone were the days when the cost of living was quite cheap and his income from the handicraft stall was sufficient for the family but they had to struggle just like other businesspeople.

The inclusion of other handicraft items such as neatly crafted wall decorations, woven hand-baskets and traditional artefacts purchased from local wood carvers kept his business competitive.

Mr Anand said the handicraft business saw more tourists before but now things had changed.

He said there had been a lot of changes over the past decade or so and now there were more local people who were interested in buying handicraft items from the stalls.

Mr Anand said there had been a drastic drop in business over the years because now there were people and businesses selling handicraft items all over the country.

On a busy day he said he could serve about two to four people if not he sells nothing at all.

Despite the challenges he faced he said he remained positive.

He encouraged the people to make use of their talents and put them to good use.

“My advice to young kids is to use your eyes, see things and use your talent because nothing is difficult in this world unless you try,” he said.

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