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.
SBN Member profile: Bluespur Consulting Ltd by Ivamere Nataro
Published in Samoa Observer 26/12/2018
Established in July 2018, Bluespur Consulting Ltd exists to cater to the needs of the Pacific people in New Zealand by providing a platform where their voices can be heard.
Owned by two Samoans, Zeprina Fale and Marie Young, the business engages the emergent voice of the Pacific communities with organisations such as the local and central governments, non-government organisations and the private sector.
“We do this by creating spaces where people feel comfortable for their voices to be heard,” said Ms. Young.
“This can look like hosting talanoa sessions with church congregations, conducting street interviews, or doing online engagement for our connected younger generation.
“Both of us are fluent Samoan speakers, and we also work with a network of community leaders, influencers, interpreters and translators from our various Pacific cultures. People respond differently when you engage with them in their native language. You get to the heart of the truth, and that’s essential for future decision making.”
The idea of establishing the business emerged in the middle of a coffee group session where the two ladies were sharing about outrageous faith and courage.
“We saw a societal need and a gap in the market. The Pasifika population in New Zealand is on a fast growth track, and this has a big impact on our communities and also on New Zealand as a whole. It’s really important that our many cultures learn to live well together,” Ms. Young said.
“Zeprina and I found that we had complementary skills and experiences and we both had outrageous faith in God to say ‘Let’s do this’.”
Ms. Young said their business is rooted deeply in their community, serving in their church family (LifeChurch West Auckland in Avondale) and also in community groups such as Feed the Streets.
"We see Bluespur Consulting as an extension of our service to God and our people,” she said.
“We take the consultation to the community, (in the spaces that people are comfortable with) we speak their language, we ensure diverse representation of views and we close the conversation loop.
“In the past, our people have not been engaged effectively, which means that our people’s values and cultural practices would not be represented in the design and development of a growing diverse New Zealand. We aim to change that.”
Ms. Young said at times it is challenging to get organisations to realise the true and authentic community voice that leads to sustainable community solutions.
“They (Pacific community) value what we stand for, what we do, and how we do it. It’s more personal because we go to the people where they are - whether that’s churches, sports groups or even the TAB. People know we really want to understand what they really want to say.”
Ms. Young added come the New Year, they plan to level up, diversify their client base and do more work on a regional and global level.
“On the voluntary front, we’re looking forward to participating in a missions trip to West Papua, where LifeChurch has a sister church.
“We are also looking forward to deepening our relationship with the communities we serve. This includes working with schools providing pastoral care, supplementing the great work our teachers and community workers are doing.”
By Liz Ah Hi
The opening day of the Samoa Business Network Business Trip, showcased the power of small and medium enterprises in expanding their horizons and mobilising each other to create positive community development, supporting a strong and vibrant economy.
The official welcome was given by the acting Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr Talalelei Tuitama who praised the initiative and the potential for employment generation as a desired
Tuitama clarified that as a net importing country, it is important to encourage local production and to be aware of the key trading partners in the regional and global setting.
The acting New Zealand High Commissioner, His Excellency Nick Hurley in his opening remarks urged local businesses to draw on the opportunities available to them by Samoans across the globe.
The SBN New Zealand Chair, Laura Keil Hall acknowledged the vital role micro, small and medium businesses play in a healthy economy.
Referring to the SBN Business awards held earlier in September, Keil-Hall reminded those present of the importance in acknowledging the resilience, perseverance, creativity and ingenuity of Samoan businesses owners here in Samoa and across the globe.
“We all appreciate the fundamental role small businesses play in supporting a vibrant and strong economy. In New Zealand, small medium enterprises represent 97% of all enterprises.”
“Here in Samoa the figure is 88.27% which reaffirms a few things for many of us. One is the vital role of SME to our ongoing economic development. Secondly is the need for our peoples to work together to celebrate and support Samoan entrepreneurial excellence.“
The emphasis on having strong relationships between government and the private sector were highlighted in the first session of the Business Mission.
Representatives from MCIL and MFAT came to the table with presentations focussed on government policies that enable investment environments that are conducive to business and trade.
The role of the diaspora as a key market and area for growth was also recognised and robust discussions took place regarding the challenges for micro and small businesses around the costs of production.
The ongoing conversation regarding the proposed distribution centre based in Auckland for Samoan businesses to store their products was under the spotlight as the solution to those challenges.
The potential of the Tui Samoa Cable was widely discussed and what it meant for businesses present in providing reliable and efficient access to businesses wishing to promote/sell their products.
Co-founder of WE Accounting and Business Services, Eli Tagi shared their vision for growing authentic businesses and explicitly stated their company’s intentions of setting up business in Samoa with an eye on forming partnerships and participating in community development.
The SBN Business Trip event closed on Thursday with a dinner event at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
On Friday, members of the New Zealand business delegation had one on one business meetings with stakeholders and local business leaders which were facilitated by the Samoa Business Network.
Published in Samoa Observer
By Ivamere Nataro, 23 November 2018
Reconnecting Samoan women leaders to their core values and culture was the focus of a one-day Indigenous Women in Leadership workshop.
Organised by the RISE2025 team, the event was held at the Taumeasina Island Resort.
RISE2025 was led by its founder, Maori businesswoman Rachel Petero and facilitated by Apulu Tu’u’u Mary Kalala Autagavaia.
The workshop focused on three key areas: setting up for success, understanding the value of values, and planning for success.
“Culture is from God,” said Apulu.
“Being Samoan and not being apologetic about it means finding that space in business and in leadership to bring our culture into it.
Remembering the strong women in our lineage, who were the paramount leaders of Samoa, was the first step towards framing leadership through an indigenous lens that is unique to Samoan culture.
“One of things that our colonial experience has done is that it has made us not remember the things that we ought to remember, and to remember women like Nafanua,” she said.
“We have to remember the Salamasinas, we have to remember the Lupefofoaivaoeses. We have to remember Nafanua, who collected the power but then also re-distributed the power. Think about your mothers, think about your grandmothers.”
President and C.E.O. of Samoa Stationery and Books, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, delivered a speech about honour and faith based leadership.
For Tofilau, being the sole shareholder and director of a company is not for the faint hearted, as she had to step up and not be wavered from her core principles and values, despite the challenges.
In this respect, Tofilau told the gathering of five leadership principles she applies to her life and work as well as the common pitfalls that leaders should avoid.
“The famous American football coach Vince Lombardi once said that ‘Leaders are made, they are not born’. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
Tofilau said she is unapologetic about her faith-based leadership, which places God at the top followed by her uncompromised view that true leadership begins by honouring authority.
“Another reason you need to honour authority is so that when you are ready to be a full-fledged leader; you will then receive all God’s blessings. Why? Because God saw that you honoured his appointed leader.”
The workshop concluded with presentations of certificates for the women who participated followed by a dinner featuring guest speaker from United Nations Women, Papalii Mele Mauala.
The workshop was held in partnership with the Samoa Business Network.
Samoa Business Network Inc.
Connecting, Sharing, Celebrating & Promoting Samoan Businesses, Entrepreneurs & Professionals.
Copyright © 2018 Samoa Business Network Inc., All rights reserved.
Copyright statement: The content and design of this website is protected by New Zealand Crown copyright.