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When you meet Fashion Stylist Nora Swann, the first thing that will capture your attention is what she is wearing. Not because of her quirky outfits and daring fashion sense - but because she pulls it off so well!
The 39-year-old founder of her own self-titled styling company ‘Nora Swann’ is a finalist in this year’s SBN SUGA Business woman of the year category. She is also a finalist in the Excellence in Innovation category.
The funky fashionista, whose villages in Samoa are Saleilua Falealili and Vaipuna Apia, started her entrepreneurial journey in 2011 after beating 4000 other entries and winning the Cleo Magazine New Zealand nationwide competition to become a Fashion Stylist.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to start my own business as a stylist,” says Nora. “And seeing as I had a bit of an eye for fashion, I thought I'd give it a try.”
Seven years later, Nora styles a mix of clientele from customers who are going through new beginnings such as a new job or weight change to hosting fashion shows and style campaigns at some of Auckland’s biggest shopping malls.
Her role as director of New Zealand’s only Pacific Fashion Runway Showcase, The Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, is one of many credentials on her long list of accomplishments, enhancing her profile as one of Auckland’s go-to fashion stylists.
Away from the glitz and glam of fashion shows, Nora says her favourite part of her job is giving back to her local community. She is often booked by charitable trust organisations, government departments and high schools to run her ‘Dressed in Confidence’ wellness workshops that help empower and build self-esteem for young women, especially young Pasifika.
Whilst it may seem common for Pasifika parents to push their children towards university study in order to ‘get a good job’, Nora believes we shouldn’t ignore the importance of having a decent wardrobe as this can influence career advancement just as much.
“Girls in school give me big hugs at the end of my ‘Dressed in Confidence’ sessions and it gets quite emotional too.”
One school social worker praised Nora’s innovative workshops.
“Our girls got to share their ideas and speak to a group, something that some of them struggled with prior to ‘Dressed in Confidence’. I cannot wait to get this initiative back into my schools.”
Like any other entrepreneur, Nora says her journey hasn’t been easy. A lawsuit four years ago had discouraged her and almost put her off fashion forever.
“I was being taken to court by an Italian international fashion giant house who has 3000 plus stores worldwide for intellectual property,” she explains.
“They then prolonged the case for 18 months trying to exhaust me of funds to cover my court fees. I won the case in the end! It was a real David and Goliath victory.”
And just like David, Nora emphasises the importance of overcoming challenges and pursuing your passion even when it seems unattainable.
“It’s important to embrace our 'Pacific-ness' too as this is an asset and strength of ours. It’s who we are.
“Chase that dream with determination, focus and perseverance and surround yourself with like-minded people who support you and who support each other.”
NORA SWANN - NEW ZEALAND
Phone: +64 21 295 7891
Finalist profiles made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:
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