How U.S. programme helped Eveni

Meet the woman behind Eveni’s international success. 

Lisa Vaai has been part of the company since 2010, and now she is responsible for the designs, creativity and marketing side of Eveni. 

She said her skills and knowledge were further developed when she completed tertiary education under the United States South Pacific (U.S.S.P.) scholarship. 

Studying under the American system, Lisa was taught to embrace and learn about other subjects, including language and not just commerce, which was her focus. 

“I think with the American system, what we get to learn is connecting with other people; you boost your confidence level,” she said of how the scholarship has contributed to her work.

“For my line of work, I do the designs and the creativity side of Eveni, and I am also trying to sell products to the export market, so you always have to deal with different ethnicity, example the Japanese market."

“We don’t talk to Japanese, but when you are exposed to East-West centre in Hawaii, there are so many ethnicities there, and when you put in New York, again there are other many ethnicities there. So you are able to adapt fast and that’s really helped me with my current work because I deal with business from different areas, Asia mainly.”

Lisa was part of the programme 17 years ago, and recently went to Fiji to reconnect with fellow alumni on how best they can contribute to each other’s work. 

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“Part of the scholarship they also take you to Washington DC, so you get six weeks internship at Washington DC, and you live in the international students’ house which is at the center of Washington DC. It’s like a first real job. I didn’t complete my scholarship at Honolulu, Hawaii because I asked them if I could complete it in New York.”

Lisa said she faces challenge when it comes to marketing their wear, especially being a woman. 

“Most people think that fashion is just ladies, but it’s actually men who own the factories, industries, they are the ones who have to do the discussions, there are women but they are not the decision makers. So it is quite tough, especially dealing with Asian cultures, women are not seen as decision makers,” she said. 

“My inspiration is really through my travels. I see something and then I try to adapt and make it into a Samoan design. My recent trip was to India, and they have so many beautiful fabrics and all the colours as well. As well as Japan, we will be doing a Japanese-Samoan print next year.”

Lisa said Eveni is always working towards improving their products to meet their customer’s demand. 

“It’s good to have Samoan products being sold outside Samoa not just to Samoa but to other ethnicities, so hopefully we will keep working and making sure the design is very good as well as the value of the products. 

“We know our customers and we just target whatever we see. So they give us feedbacks and we just keep adjusting our products to make sure it fits them. We don’t do custom made.”

Lisa reiterated the importance of Samoans taking up the opportunity to study in the United States under the U.S.S.P. 

“People want to be close to their family in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, but there’s actually you get opened up to even more opportunities when you go through the US system. There are more connections that will help you in your future career.”

Lisa said they will be recruiting people who are applying for the scholarship and identify good candidates. 

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