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How Zelda Turned Her Hobby Into A Business

How Zelda Turned Her Hobby Into A Business
A model wearing Zelda Thomas Paige’s designs
September 09
15:00 2017

Growing up, the women in Zelda Thomas Paige’s life influenced her greatly.

Her mother, grandmother and almost all her aunts sewed. Stitching fabric, thread and other materials together came as natu­rally to her as playing with a toy.

Now with 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, and with milestone achievements like organising the Fiji Red Cross Designer Awards from 1996 to 2002, the designer’s rise to fame has been noth­ing short of meteoric.

Even more admirably, Ms Paige or Zelda as she is known, today tries to mix fashion and entertainment to raise money for the needy.

Fiji Sun spoke to Zelda in an attempt to understand the approach behind her col­ourful career.

Here are the excerpts.


Give us a brief description of yourself?

I have been in the fashion industry, organ­ising fashion shows, for over 25 years.

I had a boutique at the then Tradewinds Hotel where we held numerous fashion shows every week.

Then I joined Tappoos as head of their fashion department for a few years, before I took a break from the whole fashion in­dustry and started again in 2011.

I currently co-ordinate Style Fiji, with my colleague Marlene Vuniwaqa.

Style Fiji is held in Denarau every year. This year Style Fiji is on December 2, at the Sofitel Resort and Spa Grand Ballroom, and is in aid of Cure Kids Fiji.

“We use fashion and entertainment to raise the necessary funds to assist health services in Fiji.

“Working with designers’ year in year out jolted my natural flare for fashion, so Zilda Collection was born.

“It started off as a hobby. Now it’s time to make my hobby pay for itself as a business.

Did you go to school to study designing?

No I didn’t. Designing has always been a natural part of my life.

Tell us a little bit about the work you’ve done with ‘House of Designs Fiji.’

House of Designs Fiji is the name of the Boutique in Nadi which I created with Far­az Ali.

The outlet was designed to House of De­signers in Fiji and stations were set up within the boutique where local designers could showcase their latest innovations.

Due to the heavy road works in Matintar, directly outside the boutique, House of Design is temporarily closed and is cur­rently opened in Suva under the name of RFX boutique in Palm Court, Queensland Arcade Building and is owned and run by Faraz Ali.

What do you think sets you apart from other designers?

I don’t look at designers in Fiji as competi­tion or to set myself apart.

I believe in team work. A lot of us need to work together to make a difference in the fashion industry in Fiji.

It has been a long road. But stick to your guns. I’ve noticed a change in consumer habits. Women, as well as men, are very supportive of the local designers here in Fiji which is fantastic.

They buy Fijian made and designed first!

What type of clothing do you specialise in, and who are your target customers?

Lounge, resort and evening wear. I would prefer to appeal to all women. There is something for everyone.

How long have you been established for and who are your main market distributors in Fiji and abroad?

As a business, Zilda Collection is five-years-old. I supply boutiques with Morgan­rose, Exotica and Zilda.

The Collection can be found at Samson Lee Fiji boutique in Suva on Butt Street.

You can also find Zilda Collection at Pine­apple Boutique at the Sheraton Fiji Resort and on Port Denarau at the Marina. For ex­ports, personal orders come in from time to time.

Do you only design, or do you sew as well?

I can do both. I also outsource production to seamstresses, tailors and to the smaller

cottage industry factories.

Where do you operate from?

There hasn’t been a need to have a location when most things are outsourced. I am however found most days at the Samson Lee Fiji Boutique in Suva.

There are three designers in-house: Samson Lee, of course, Naina and myself. We offer a one-on-one service to our customers. Everything in the boutique is made in Fiji.

How have you used social media to promote your brand?

Social media is definitely the greatest help. You can tar­get a few thousand people over a few days to promote your brand.

Make sure you have great pictures and use local models or known faces in Fiji to promote your brand. It’s a good place to start.

What have been some of the challenges that you’ve faced in the fashion industry in Fiji?

Fabrics. It is hard to get good quality fabrics in Fiji; tai­lors and seamstresses.

Good quality ones are hard to come by. So once you’ve found a few, create a great relationship with them. Nurture it.

They are an extremely valuable commodity and are cru­cial to your quality of work and reputation in the market as a designer.

What is the long-term plan in designing for you?

It’s to increase supplying outlets within Fiji and to even­tually export during the summer months in respect to the overseas calendar, where my collections are considered ex­clusive and of good quality.

Who do you attribute your success to and who is your greatest inspiration?

My family and friends and other Fiji designers.

What is your advice to other upcoming designers and those wanting to join the fashion industry especially here in Fiji?

It’s not all glamorous. You have to do the hard-yards. Don’t give up. Get up. Keep getting up. Concentrate on quality, the quantity will come.

Your workmanship is a reflection of you, and you are your brand. Turn your garment inside out and have a look. Your quality control to finishing is mandatory

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