Island News

Shanti turns to handicraft

Written By : NANDIKA CHAND . There is always an up and down in business but the main thing for business people is not to loose hope and faith. Businesses
06 Sep 2008 12:00

image Written By : NANDIKA CHAND . There is always an up and down in business but the main thing for business people is not to loose hope and faith.
Businesses do well when there are many sales or when profits are made.
Handicraft business is seasonal because it mainly depends on tourists as it is counted in the tourism industry.
There are many handicraft dealers and operators in Fiji as Fiji is regarded as one of the best tourism destinations in the world.
Shanti George,48, of Malolo Nadi has been in the handicraft business for the past 15-years.
Shanti says she has been through some tough times and is always happy when her business is thriving.
She said when the times are difficult the foremost thing was not to loss hope and faith when the business is not doing so well.
“Before getting into handicraft business, I was managing and running my own restaurant,” Shanti said.
“It was great experience as I learnt to cook some new dishes and also made a lot of new friends,” she said.
“The restaurant was in Nadi town and it was doing well and I got to make profits now and then,” she said.
“I decided to change from restaurant to handicraft because of no manpower and some new restaurants also opened up in town and my business became quite slow,” she said.
“My shop rent also increased and I was not able to make profit anymore and it was very difficult for me,” she said.
“One day as I was walking around in town I saw some handicraft dealers selling handicrafts,” she added.
Shanti said the handicrafts caught her attention and she decided to start her very own handicraft business.
She said she discussed with her family about going into a new trade and they agreed with her plans and now I have my very own stall in the Nadi Handicraft Market.
“Through handicraft business, I learnt that all kinds and types of businesses have their ups and downs,” Shanti said.
“There is no such business which only makes profits. All businesses have their profits and losses and this depends on the public,” she said.
“I love being in handicraft business because I get to meet and greet people of different countries, race and religion,” she said.
“I feel obliged to meet the tourists and be of service to them as my business depends on them,” she said.
“I sell things like weaved bags, mats, grass skirts to necklaces, bracelets, earrings to souvenirs,” she said.
“I buy these stock on wholesale from the creator and designer of the goods and am able to make the profit,” she said.
Shanti said the designers themselves do not get enough time to sell their products as they are busy creating more of their products.
She said it was a good thing that she is able to buy them from the designer at a good price and sell them.
“My customers are largely tourists and they are always awestruck when they see goods in my stall,” Shanti said.
“I like it when the tourists find time from their busy schedule to have a small chat with us,” she said.
“Some even give us their addresses and tell us to visit them when we are in their country,” she said.
“Currently it is the peak season in the tourism industry and we have been making sales and also profits as a lot of tourists are coming in,” she said.
“Last year business was slow because there were not many tourists around,” she said.
“We used to sit in our stall whole day waiting for customers and it was too difficult for us,” she said.
Now in a day we are able to make good sales as the customers start coming from the morning,” she added.
Shanti said the small handicraft businesses were competing with big namely departmental stores such as Jacks, Prouds, Tappoo and Nad’s Handicraft.
She said the big stores had their branches in resorts and hotels where as the small handicraft businesses had only one.
“We are happy that there are tourists who prefer to come to our stalls to have a look around and buy the products,” Shanti said.
“Business does not only mean to make money. It also means good customer service and communication,” she said.
“It is difficult to communicate in the tourist’s tongue when he or she does not speak English but we are able to manage anyway,” she said.
“People who have migrated to overseas countries also come to our stalls when they are here to visit their relatives and friends,” she said.
“It is good to catch up on relatives and friends who also play a role in spreading the word of our business,” she added.
Shanti said apart from running her business she likes to spend her time with her family.
She said she has three children with two sons settled in overseas and one daughter working in Fiji.
“I like to meet new people which I get to do through running my business, I also like to do sewing and cooking,” Shanti said.
“When at home, I like to do some gardening and clean my compound as I find it very relaxing,” she said.
“I am very grateful to my family, who has been very supportive and understanding,” she said.
“I would not have been engaged in business if I did not have the support of my family,” she added.
Shanti said there were not many women involved in business as they did not want to try their hands on new things.
She said women have proven to be good business people and they should not be scared to come out of their houses and try their hands at starting up a business in a which ever field or trade they liked.
“There are a lot of women who were good at sewing or cooking but do not want to or like to start their own tailoring and catering business,” she said.
Shanti said one will not get the experience or feeling without trying their hands on it first.

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