Entrepreneur – Repeka uses her hands to survive

Repeka’s massage therapy has kept her afl oat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: SUPPLIED

SHE saw a potential career during her time as a hotel worker and grasped the opportunity to learn the skill of massage therapy.

Originally from Tilivalevu in Nadroga, Repeka Bainivalu started as a massage therapist at the local resort where she worked a full-time job.

When she was not massaging, she’d carry out her usual work around guiding tourists or helping out in other sections.

At the time she was staying in Sanasana before she later moved to Lovu in Lautoka.

One day it dawned on her to take up professional classes to master the skill – and start her own business.

The idea developed from a simple intuition, she understood how crucial massage therapy was to the tourism industry and thought about starting her own business.

Bainivalu signed up for classes at the the Fiji National University to learn more about providing professional service particularly in the tourism industry.

The 37-year-old mother of four developed her skills further at the university and combined her experience and knowledge to perfect her work.

“After I received my certificate I started work at Lomani Island Resort between 2012 and 2015 as a massage therapist.

“From Lomani Resort I realised there was a huge demand for massage therapy especially business people recommending the therapy as a form of relaxation from a busy day.

Bainivalu opened her own massage centre at the Natadola beach and named it Repeka Relax Beach Massage.

It was a dream come true, however, she said the road was challenging at times.

“I started my own massage centre in 2015 and it was going well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. It affected my business particularly when hotels closed and travelling restriction were put in place — I too closed down as a result. One of the toughest times in my life,” she said.

Bainivalu said she managed to stay afloat and support her family while business was closed but then decided to start all over again as things got tougher.

“I decided to rent a bed from Grooming Lounge in Lautoka to start all over again and continue my passion.

“I rented a one bedroom space in January this year, catering for one customer at a time. Conditions were not as I had expected but I had no choice, I started bringing in customers some of whom were my old clients.”

Bainivalu says she is confident in her work and boasts to be on top of her game when it comes to massage therapy.

“I’m sticking to my skill and the feedback from my customers is great. I do full body massage and the works, some even come to me with back pain and so forth.

“There are techniques one should know about massage therapy such as deep tissue massage, massage for relaxation and combination massages.

“I know what customers want and it is easy for me to satisfy them because I’ve been in the business long enough. I choose customers wisely especially those who treat me with respect while I’m doing my work,” she said.

Bainivalu says the combination massage is a half deep tissue and half relaxation therapy and one needed to know the different therapies and techniques in order to deliver the right remedy.

She said customers from Suva also call for her service and she is thinking of extending her business to the Capital City when the time is right.

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