Women can achieve anything

Raijeli Takayawa with Rosie Emberson Semisi. Picture: SUPPLIED

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many local businesses to their knees. Those who lost their jobs found time to relax and spend time with their families. Others used it as an opportunity to challenge themselves.

Raijeli Takayawa decided to start up a home based fabric painting business.

Originally from Muana-i-cake village in Fulaga, Lau, the mother of five, with maternal links to Qalikarua village, Matuku in Lau, says she’s firm believer that when empowered, ‘women can achieve anything’. With that in mind, she used her creative juices and artistic skills to move on.

She hopes to someday display her handiwork in a boutique shop, which a women’s group she is part of plans to open. She was first introduced to the world of fashion when a friend invited her to the Fiji Fashion Week launched on April 30 at the Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH).

“A friend of mine invited me to accompany her to that fashion show. That’s when I started to take interest in fashion and design,” Ms Takayawa said.

“Then I saw Rosie Emberson Semisi looking for participants on her Facebook page, so I called her and she registered me.

“I joined in May for two weeks training at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).”

Local fashion designer Ms Semisi is the facilitator of the textile art training program where Ms Takayawa learnt the art of textile painting. After completing her two-week training program she immediately got to work and started her own fabric painting business.

Raijeli Takayawa’s storyboard, a canvas that talks about her journey. Picture: SUPPLIED

“I went looking around for funding but I was unable to get any.

“But I had the support of my family who supported me financially. Her art collection is called the 7 Angels, motivated by her five children, one daughter-in-law and a grandson, characters who inspired her storyboard. A storyboard, is a tale relating an artist’s journey depicted in art form. This story is used as a stencil for printing on a piece of garment. “My storyboard is about my journey and the struggles I faced in that journey.

“Now I can stand on my own two feet and support my family. The storyboard indicates also that my children are all linked to some other parts of Fiji, especially my grandson.”

“And I’m so happy that I met up with Ms Semisi and learned from her. Ms Takayawa said she first began with sarong printing because it was easy but later delved into children’s clothing.

“I started off with the sarong because it really sells out fast.

“Then we moved to kids clothing just two weeks ago, it’s very casual and comes in pairs – like a short and a shirt, sulu vakataga and a shirt et cetera.” She said women should empower each other to start their businesses.

“I started off with nothing but I’ve always been a firm believer that by empowering each other we can achieve a lot.

“I am living proof that we can start a business, with any amount. Even with $2, $5 or $50, you can make it big.”

Ms Takayawa hopes to take part in the Fiji Fashion Week in the near future.

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