Stories & articles of our work & our people
Mailelani (from the heavens) is a fitting name for founders Kitiona & Sylvie Salanoa’s organic skincare products which have now become a household name in Samoa.
The husband and wife duo didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they dreamt up the idea almost 20 years ago.
“We didn’t know how to make a soap to begin with and we were also not very business minded,” says Sylvie.
“Everything we have achieved has been through trial and error and we learnt everything from scratch. It took two years for Kitiona to come up with the perfect soap recipe back in the year 2000 and in 2006 we had a full body care range.”
The love story behind the Mailelani products she says began with two people from opposite ends of the world who have a common love for God and for the people of Samoa.
Kitiona, 59 is from the villages of Fasito’o Tai & Falefa and Sylvie, 52 is from Nyon, Switzerland & Nusco, Italy. They currently live in Papauta, Samoa where they run the Mailelani factory and gift shop.
Their goal was to make Samoa known to the world by creating a high quality product using locally sourced ingredients. By doing so, they would also be contributing to the Samoan economy and providing jobs for Samoans.
“It is only by faith, long days and nights of trial and error and a lot of prayer that we are where we are now. Mailelani means ‘from heaven’ and we can honestly say that this business is truly here because of God’s purpose for us.”
The Salanoa’s say like any business, they have had their fair share of challenges particularly when it came to convincing locals about their products and the benefits of using Samoa natural ingredients. They credit their coconut oil farmers who make their products work and are the backbone of the company.
“Samoans can be a tough crowd sometimes, and Samoa-made products can sometimes be frowned upon or looked down on. But now Mailelani is available in most major supermarkets around the island and all the leading gift shops and hotels.”
The feedback from customers is also heartwarming.
“Customers tell us that our soap has helped them with their eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin and that feedback really kept us moving forward to try and offer the best natural body care product.
“It goes to show that if you are passionate about a business you are starting up, don’t let anything bring you down. It's not an easy road and there will be days where you want to pack up everything and call quits, but if you know it in your heart that this is what you are here for, don’t let anything bring you down. Always pray and always ask for help.”
MAILELANI - SAMOA
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