Stories & articles of our work & our people
SBN Member profile: Danika Cooper Jewellery by Ivamere Nataro
Published in Samoa Observer 25/01/2019
A bracelet and ring for a 20 centimeter wrist and finger size that is five times larger than a regular man’s ring sizing gave birth to Danika Cooper Jewellery in 2017.
Faced with a dilemma of “one size does not fit all”, couple Tumua Pili Tuifao and Danika Briar Mei-Bou Cooper ventured into establishing their own jewellery shop that would cater for everyone.
Fast forward 18 months later, what started out as a hobby for the couple became a demand and they now supply predominantly unique Tahitian black pearls to clients all around the globe.
“It soon came to our attention through comments by friends and family that we were not alone, and soon we were making commissioned pieces,” Danika said of the early stages of their business.
It’s not all about the dollars for the couple, as they aim to create adornments that empowered their customers, especially when their diverse range of low, mid and fine jewellery lines and styles are influenced by the Pacific and Polynesian cultures.
“The positive feedback we get from our clients is beyond what we could have ever expected. They often send us lovely messages thanking us, or describing how excited they were when they received their jewellery.
“We also get sent photos of them wearing their pieces, or they tag us on social media. These are what really make our day. It’s so nice to know you have a part in making your customers look and feel great.”
The couple knows that making sacrifices often leads to success, especially when it comes down to financing a business.
“Yes that cutting out some of the travel, and making sacrifices when it came to ‘do we really need those shoes’ and ‘what extra jobs can we pick up to fund the initial set up’; but what really was the biggest investment, was their time,” Danika said.
“We have spent hours researching, setting up a workshop space and acquiring the right equipment and materials, attending classes and workshops, taking online courses and tapping into the knowledge of others around us.”
Because of their passion for creativity and their love for all things Pasifika, including networking with the right people, the couple has been able to overcome daily hurdles that are associated with most new businesses.
“After joining the Samoan Business Network in late 2018, the team has been successful in securing retail stockists, as well as joining WE Accounting in their Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development Accelerator Programme that focuses on assisting businesses in their startup phase and work on how they can overhaul challenges that arise."
Despite these challenges, the couple said they have been amazed with the level of support and growth of the business in the short they have been operating.
“If anyone said to us 18 months ago this is where we would be, we would have thought they were mad, never in our wildest dreams thought would we be here now doing what we love and getting recognition for doing it.”
While plans are in the pipeline to open a retail store in Samoa, the couple hopes to have their stock in a retail store in Samoa by next month.
“Currently Danika Cooper Jewellery operates from Auckland, New Zealand, with an online store and via the social media channels Facebook and Instagram. We have one retail stockist in Auckland, and are currently in the conversation with one in Apia.”
For 2019, the couple hopes to expand their range to include a men’s line of mid and fine jewellery, and have stockists in a couple of major cities in New Zealand and Australia.
The couple were both born and raised in New Zealand with Tumua having Samoan heritage. His mother is from Siumu and Tanugamanono, Apolu and father from Samata-i-Tai and Samata i Tai and Fogatuli, Savaii.
Danika is of Chinese and European heritage and spent time living in the Cook Islands where she acquired a fascination with black pearls.
Their online store can be found on www.danikacooperjewellery.com and Facebook - Danika Cooper Jewellery, Instagram - @danikacooperjewellery
SBN Member profile: KokoTala by Ivamere Nataro
Published in Samoa Observer 21/01/2019
In this digital world, keeping updated and connected to the changes occurring around us is essential.
A start-up technology company, KokoTala, plans to do just that with their new Tālā App that helps with financial literacy.
KokoTala is on a mission to change people’s spending habits and normalise financial behaviour such as budgeting, saving, spending, investing and talking about money either as an individual, family or tribe through this free technology solution.
Established in July 2018, KokoTala has made it easy for everyone to access the app from any location, but the primary target market is the Pacific and Maori people of all ages.
“We believe that financial well-being is a shared responsibility between individuals, families and communities. The Tālā App will help build financial literacy and capability, increase individual and family savings, networth and ease debt – and in doing so, transform lives,” Founder, Ruth Malo said of why the business was established.
“The Tālā App will be designed with Pacific culture in mind and it will be forever free. We will never sell your data - period. It will be available in English, Samoan, Tongan and Māori with other Pacific languages added at a later stage. Users will have the ability to share their information and chat with others.”
Ruth said they invested their own money in setting up the business and also their time, with a modest funding from the Ministry of Social Development’s Building Financial Capability Fund in New Zealand.
“We have engaged with everyone from potential users, Pasifika and Māori groups and communities, Government and a whole heap of other people and organisations. Feedback has been overwhelming positive with some saying that the app is long overdue for our people.”
Ruth hopes to launch the app early 2019 including in Samoa and Australia.
She acknowledged that challenges she encounters are to do with future funding or investment to scale the business.
“We’re excited to be starting out on a journey with the community to change spending habits and connect and save with family and friends anywhere in the world. The Tālā App is a simple-to-use, easy-to-understand key to improving and enhancing our financial story.”
Sign up on their website www.kokotala.com to be notified of the launch date.
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