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Kamenio Keeps Culture Of Weaving Alive

Akenata Kamenio has no regrets that she did not go onto further studies. At 33, the Yasawa lass found that keeping her culture alive can be just as rewarding as
03 May 2015 10:02
Kamenio Keeps Culture Of Weaving Alive
Akeneta Kamenio: “I was right. What I learnt was to change the way you carry out your business. And I believe that’s what the corporate world is driven by-the change for the better.” Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

Akenata Kamenio has no regrets that she did not go onto further studies.

At 33, the Yasawa lass found that keeping her culture alive can be just as rewarding as a professional career.

She specialises in weaving iTaukei-designed handbags and accessories.

Ms Kamenio was among vendors who filled the corridors of Downtown Boulevard yesterday during the Westpac Day Market in partnership with the Fiji National Provident Fund.

“I didn’t want to continue tertiary education after high school. I wanted to know the art of weaving. I learnt this through my mother. She played a pivotal role in the path I chose.”

They operate separate stalls at the Suva City Council Market’s handicraft section.

“I operate my own business and so does she. But our products are similar.”

But for the past 15 years the former Saint Joseph Secondary School student has not only been doing magic on pandanus leaves. It wasn’t all that smooth-sailing.

Crisis

At one point she decided to look for employment in the corporate world when she was in what could be said as a midlife crisis.

“I thought working for someone would be easier as I wouldn’t be making so much errors. Starting out on your own is only part of it, but actually making it involves lot of trial and errors.”

That eventually lead her to apply at a fast-food chain restaurant.

“But after some time, I realised I wasn’t meeting my financial goals. I could be earning on average $300 a week yet I was only getting $100 at the restaurant.

“I felt that maybe the first time I wasn’t doing it right. I needed a new perspective on the way I was running my small business.

She resigned and started all over again.

“I was right. What I learnt was to change the way you carry out your business. And I believe that’s what the corporate world is driven by-the change for the better.”

And change she did. Ms Kamenio, the single mom to three-year-old Luisa takes advantage of expositions such as Westpac Fiji’s Day and Night Market, the ROC Market on the third Sunday each month.

She does office calls and deliveries at least five times a month.

And her business has been growing. Ms Kamenio’s is also into accessories and jewellery-making out of pearls and shells she sources from a local seller. Additionally, she sells virgin coconut oil.

“I may have a small business but I wouldn’t have exchanged it for any career. I urge locals to start their own business. You can be your own boss and work at your own business. But work hard at it.

“When you do, you can employ local people and you can keep the money in Fiji.

“You may not get it right once. But if you try the second time, learn from your mistake and do it better.”

With plans to open a shop in the capital in future, for Ms Kamenio takes pleasure crafting her magic on pandanus leaves and pearls.

And since her daughter was born, she too has become her strength to do better in the handicraft business.

Feedback:  ranobab@fijisun.com.fj

 



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