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African Fashion Making Inroads in Fiji

African Fashion Making Inroads in Fiji
People model clothes created by Pendeza.
October 07
18:12 2017

A purveyor of African styled clothing and art in Fiji, Mere Naitaka’s inspired foray into the local fashion arena has an encouraging feel about it.

Ms Nataika left the country for the African continent, where she received the bulk of her formal education, after her parents were posted there for work.

She operates out of a boutique in Harvest Plaza, Kinoya dealing in a line that’s relatively foreign to Fijian shores.

However, after only a year of business, her company Pendeza – meaning beautiful in Swahili, which is a language spoken in eastern and south-eastern Africa – have already had their designs presented at the Fiji Fashion Week.

Fiji Sun Leisure caught up with Ms Naitaka to get a brief introduction to her plans to make it big in Fiji.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

One on one with Mere Naitaka

Can you tell us briefly about yourself?

I am 23-years-old. I am from Nasau, Dama, Bua with maternal links to Natauloa, Nairai, Lomaiviti.

I am the second of six children. I was born and raised in Fiji before I moved to Africa at the age of nine.

I am a recent graduate from Monash University, South Africa where I attained my Bachelors in Business Science, double majoring in Marketing and Business Management.

My parents have also ventured into business upon returning from Africa.

How did your love for designing and fashion start?

My love for designing began after I witnessed the boldness of African men and women, together with their rich culture, and the way they take pride in their culture; this played a major role in my love for fashion.

What inspired your company’s name Pendeza?

Pendeza’ meaning beautiful or elegant in Swahili, was the name my family and I had chosen, as our objective is to ensure that our customers always look beautiful, elegant and unique.

What sets you apart from other designers?

I think every designer is extremely talented and has executed some extraordinary work.

Although, I haven’t been as exposed as them, what might set us apart is that we are promoting African culture and tradition through our fabrics and accessories.

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

We are trading under Nasoqo Investment Limited, our family-owned company, and we have been established for a little over a year now.

Do you only design and someone else does the sewing?

Yes, we have two tailors at the moment who are doing an incredible job.

Altogether we have four staff members that include the two tailors and two sales assistant who have contributed immensely in the successful running of this boutique.

Outline some of the challenges you’ve faced in the local fashion industry.

One of our major challenges was to teach customers on the textures of our fabrics, most especially when dealing with wax cotton.

Have you been part of any fashion shows?

Having only been established for little over a year, we were able to be a part of the Fiji Fashion Week this year, collaborating with the IAmLabel brand, run by an aspiring student designer.

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

I recently moved back to Fiji in April and I’m still getting a feel of the environment; meeting new people, and dealing with different consumer tastes and perspectives.

Designing in the long-run is most definitely a possibility.

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

As the saying ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, my family together with our hard-working team have contributed immensely to the success of the company.

The greatest inspiration being my parents for their hard-work, unwavering love and support.

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

My advice to other aspiring designers like myself is that always make use of any opportunity that you may come across.

Remember that nothing is impossible with God.

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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