Beach Please Fiji Aspires To Inspire People

What started out as a hobby became a source of in­come for self taught art­ist Almanda Datt and her family. Based out of Suva in Pacific Har­bour, Beach Please is
12 Jan 2019 10:06
Beach Please Fiji Aspires To Inspire People
Beach Please Fiji was part of the Sampson Lee Botique Project

What started out as a hobby became a source of in­come for self taught art­ist Almanda Datt and her family.

Based out of Suva in Pacific Har­bour, Beach Please is a joint ven­ture between Alamanda, although everyone calls her Mandy and her sister Lynette.

“We have two other sisters, Jean­ette and Stephanie, who often col­laborate and lend us their skills and talent when we need a few ex­tra hands.

“They come along with us to practically every market, and we all take turns with face painting and engaging with customers. It is very much a family operation at the moment.

“I’m a self taught artist, although I did learn the basics of calligra­phy and hand lettering via a free webinar hosted by another mum who like me, runs a lettering busi­ness from home.

“What started out as a hobby became a source of income when my friends started placing orders for paintings for their homes, and then in 2010 my youngest son Ri­ley was born, and it was clear from the start that he had special needs and I would not be able to get a full time job for a long time.

“He has since been diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and I count myself extremely for­tunate to have a skill that allows me to earn money from home, as he is partly home schooled and still slowly easing into full time school.

Lynette is a graphic designer, and in her spare time she does a bit of photography, and some special ef­fects makeup.

“Her work, is fantastic, but only ever in demand for Halloween etc.

“We encouraged her to apply to work on the films they were re­cently shooting in Fiji, but she was working with the elections office at the time and didn’t have the time in the lead-up to the last election.

“Two years ago, we felt like there was a gap in the market at the time for personalised, thoughtful gifts, I had separated from my husband, and with Riley needing round the clock care, it was a no brainer to go ahead and launch BeachPlease.

Our work is mostly made to or­der, we paint on paper, canvas, and more recently, masi.

I love the idea of modern artwork on a traditional medium, and I think there’s a real appreciation for it, as we sold out within the hour when we debuted our masi art at the Corona Christmas mar­ket last year.

It takes us about a week to create and deliver an order, although we do encourage customers to give us three weeks so we can fit them in between other orders already on the go.

The other thing we do that’s quite popular is wedding signage, from welcome signs to seating charts and menus.

I think that’s kind of the whole feel of our business, because there are four of us, every now and then one of us will come up with an idea and the rest of us will say, “why not?”.

“Last Valentines day we did just that when my baker sister Steph­anie and I collaborated on hand painted sugar cookies, which proved to be quite popular.

“I’ll have to see if I can convince her to do it again this year, as she’s pregnant with twins at the mo­ment.”

She said long term they were thinking about the possibility of opening a one-stop shop for kids parties.

“Between Steph and I we have six sons, so us four sisters have had lots of practice organising birth­day parties, and we usually do all the baking, decorating, photog­raphy and face painting etc our­selves.

“We’ve had people approach us and ask if we could do the same for their parties, and even got invited to do face and body painting at the uprising music festival, so there’s obviously a market for it, and we enjoy doing it, so once again, why not? “

Juggling business and personal time

Juggling business and personal time is not so much an issue for me as I’m at home most of the time.

“In the early days I used to stay up at night and work but now that Riley is older he understands that I’m working, although every now and then he comes to announce bedtime and order me to “pack up my colours” lol.

“I also have very supportive par­ents who are very hands on with Riley, so that allows me to run around for supplies, deliveries etc.

“Lynette has a much harder time as she travels from Pacific Har­bour to work in Suva, but we make it work with the help of Steph and Jeanette “I think the hardest part about having your own business is that you can’t work “whenever you want”.

“It seems like the dream to escape from the 9-5 until you realise that you can’t punch in and out Mon­day to Friday. Sometimes you’ve got to pull all nighters and work through weekends and holidays to get things done.”

She noted one of the difficulties being in a creative field was hav­ing your work imitated.

“Hours upon hours of work go into creating a design and it’s dis­heartening when it gets stolen or copied,” she said.

“Imitation is the foundation of learning, and we all draw inspi­ration from other artists and de­signers, but I’m a strong believer in giving credit where it’s due and making something your own.

“I like to think that the “heart” of what we do can’t be duplicated though, so I try not to let it get to me.

“As for others thinking about starting up, I’d say go for it, but plan for the long haul. I’ve learned that starting up is unpredictable, and overnight success is not al­ways realistic.

“I’m still learning to manage my time and resources better, learn­ing to swallow my pride and ask for help when I need it. It’s all a learning curve but don’t lose sight of the big picture.”


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