Stephanie Maessen Westerlund has a huge pair of shoes to fill or plainly put the passionate fashion designer has a legacy to sustain and preserve.
As the Chief Executive of Dolly, Stephanie has taken over the business from her mother who founded Dolly 23 years ago.
But even though retired, her mother must be self-assured that her legacy will remain very much alive taking into account her daughter’s academic credentials and experience in the industry.
Before returning home, Stephanie did not take any short cuts and travelled the elongated road to graduate from the Auckland University of Technology with a double major in Fashion Designing and Business Management all the while working part-time in retail to gain customer servce skills.
Her hands on experience include three years on the job employment experience with a New Zealand apparel manufacturing company and another year working with a New Zealand wedding dress designer.
She moved home in 2012 and today its business as usual for the Savalalo based Dolly.
“While many may see fashion designing as an art, the reality is, our passion is also a career and we are putting our energy into providing quality products, professionalism as well as great customer service.
“Dolly is putting more emphasis into wedding wear because the availablility of quality wedding wear is very low and we see that there is a clear gap in the market. “Even if you order online, there is still high risk of spending money and not getting exactly what you had in mind.
“That’s where Dolly comes in – Samoa now has experienced taylors that can make bespoke garments to your exact specifications.”
Selected to be one of the five fashion houses to outfit Miss Samoa Priscilla Finally Olano during the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant at the end month, Dolly’s thinking tank is ecstatic.
“Awesome,” is her initial reaction.
“Samoa’s designs and prints are already celebrated and on trend.”
On that note, Stephanie is urging her comrades to capitalise on the opportunity by taking advantage of the social media to connect to the world.
“Capitalise on the moment now to market the calibre of Samoa’s designing genius on social media.
“I am grateful to the Samoa Events Corporation, (SEI) for choosing Dolly to be a part of the Miss Samoa and Miss Pacific Island’s Pageants.”
“One of the key objectives for Miss Samoa is to showcase the creativity and talents of our local fashion designers,” added SEI’s Coordinator, Laeimau Oketevi Tanuvasa Savea.
“It is on that platform that SEI has selected five fashion houses to dress Miss Samoa 2016 during the Miss Pacific Islands pageant week.
“With fashion has a glaring part of the global scene, SEI is adamant that one of our Miss Samoa’s roles should be to help boost and profile our fashion houses.
“With the Miss Pacific Islands hosted by Samoa this month, which ironically also marks its 30th anniversary this year and where it all began by the way, this will be the perfect media exposure globally for Samoa’s very own.
“The ultimate target is to enhance the profile of not just the five selected fashion houses but Samoa as a country with fashion designers galore.
“And most importantly, SEI agrees entirely with Stephanie that profiling our fashion designing genius is for the greater good of our country.”