The transformation of Eveni Carruthers is easily Samoa’s most successful business story of the year.
The transition from a few years ago when the store at Savalalo was mainly a uniform outlet and a few other products to the modern store it has become today – with branches overseas – has been amazing to watch.
Indeed, Eveni has become much more than just your ordinary store. They not only have succeeded in selling their fashion line in Samoa, but they have also succeeded in taking and exposing their brand internationally so that Eveni is everywhere you look today.
Even big name stars are wearing Eveni. From the All Blacks to movie stars to local elitists, Eveni has got them all covered.
But to get to where the company is at today has not been easy.
Heather Va’ai, Eveni’s Marketing Coordinator, said it has taken years to plan and a lot of hard work to pull it off.
But the key is in the company’s ability “to adapt to changes in the business conditions and also to a large extent, an element of luck.”
“We are proud of our story and we try and share our unique colourful history through our branded products and even in the decor at the main store on Beach Road Apia,” Ms. Vaai says.
“Designing and creating our own branded products came out of a necessity to make ourselves different from the competition.”
“We could no longer operate as usual and buy and sell products like everyone else. To survive in today’s world with more and more international competition entering the market, we had to create and offer our own branded products at competitive pricing not only for the local market, but also globally, for exports.”
It has been a learning curve all along.
“We went through trial and error, worked to develop the range of new elei products and brands which now make up the latest, new looks of the Eveni Carruthers as the Elei Company.”
“However, the global fashion business is very high risk and takes a long time to develop. We will keep a close eye on the markets and make another major move if, and when needed.”
The company’s decision to branch into different brands has also been an eye opener.
“We have developed the following brands - EveniPacific - our modern take on traditional elei formal wear, KokoPacific a premium resort and contemporary elei wear, EveniSport - Athleisure and urban street wear, EveniKIDS- our clothing and accessories line for children and GarlandsPacific - our range of home decor and furnishings. All our brands are sold in our physical and online stores alongside our authorized international brands - Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and Puma.”
All in all, Ms. Va’ai says history and the Pacific culture plays a vital part in the success of Eveni.
“The main themes of the Eveni Carruthers branded collections are inspired not only by history of the Eveni Carruthers family and business, but also by the Pacific cultural experience of our present fourth generation management team.”
“We are very proud of our culture which we will continue to reflect in our work as we take the branded products globally to whoever appreciates and connects to them.”
And what contributes to the success of their brand being exposed internationally?
“Our team tries to be creative. At the same time, we keep an eye on what the market needs and the financing and supply chain arrangements to deliver the product to the market at the right price and right time.”
“We believe our customers have become highly informed. They want top quality fashion products to be affordable and we price our branded products accordingly.”
“This needs a lot of reading, thinking and planning. You need to put in the work. Our team strives to know our product inside out and our targeted customers.”
“We try to prepare ourselves as much as we can - by studying the industry, the trends and potential competition – and then go for it!”
“We spend a lot of time and money on traditional and social media advertising and promotion of the branded products which have exposed our branded products globally.”
“We are also thankful that there is currently a strong resurgence of creative fashion in Samoa and the Pacific which has made it easier for a Samoan or Pacific fashion business like Eveni Carruthers to share and feed off creating products for the global market.”
Following the exposure of their new brand and collection internationally, Eveni have been fortunate to have a number of top personalities outside of Samoa wearing their products.
One of them is the actress of the Moana Disney Movie, Auli’i Cravalho and also Jojo To’omata of Te Vaka wore a shirt from Eveni at the Premiere of the Moana Movie.
“We are very fortunate to have her (Auli’i) dressed in our own branded clothing,” said Hether.
“We have also been very lucky and blessed that a number of top personalities from heads of governments, sports personalities and now film stars have worn our branded products.”
“However, this creates more pressure on us to maintain and further improve on our fashion designs.”
So what’s next for Eveni?
“We have to keep working on our creativity to bring out more new products and designs tailored to our market. This will involve not only our in-house design team but also collaborations with some of the up and coming designers in Samoa and other neighbouring Pacific countries.”
“Following our recent exhibitions in local and international Fashion Shows in September 2016, we are happy to see that our latest EveniPacific Manuia Collection made up of men’s and boy’s shirts as well as the introduction of the new corporate wear of puletasi tops & blouses for women, girl’s puletasi sets and dresses have been well received.”
The I.H.Carruthers trading empire was set up by integrating a network of trading stations throughout Samoa, which were serviced by inter-island schooners.
During the 1950s and up to the early 1970s I.H Carruthers had practically a trading station in every village in Upolu, Manono and Savaii when the company was one of the main merchants trading in cocoa and copra for export.
Maintaining a close connection of the company to the village communities and supporting their social and cultural activities is rooted in the long association of the company with village communities since the 1950s.
Over the years I.H.Carruthers has adopted “Eveni Carruthers” as its main store brand and has become one of the leading retailers of fabrics, uniforms, sporting goods and Polynesian inspired apparel. The blending of Polynesian and Samoan motifs under the following brands which are inspired by the expanded family history of the Carruthers family in Samoa.