Craftsman's Fugalei stall a lifeline for his family
You are likely to see Poi Mareko if you stop by the florist section of the flea market at Fugalei any time during the week.
This 31-year-old father of four from Vaitele-fou has been a regular at the flea market since he was 15, and learnt the ropes of being a craftsman and a seller from his father to eventually take over the family stall.
“My whole life was in Taufusi and I’ve always observed what my father did and at about age 15 my father started teaching me the ins and outs of the flea market,” he said in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
Mr Mareko’s fascination with art started when he drew a picture of a cowboy riding a horse, and gradually over the years developed a passion for anything and everything that was art and craft.
He also delved into tattooing which ultimately took him to countries like Fiji, American Samoa and Australia.
“After that I started playing around with tattoo machines and I’ve been tattooing in some countries like Fiji, Pago and Australia ,” he said.
But they say a son’s greatest gift to his Samoan father is to return home to take care of him. And that is exactly what Mr. Mareko did.
“At the moment it’s my responsibility to look after our family and like any other Samoan, our parents are always the priority.”
The income that his family generates from sales made at their stall at Fugalei is what keeps them going and puts food on the table.
Mr. Mareko’s latest project is canvas painting, which he admits is difficult due to the process involved, and requires a lot of concentration.
And his efforts have not gone unnoticed as he was recently commissioned by a Papua New Guinean couple to do some canvas painting.
“I have a customer a couple from PNG and the lady was really shocked when she came to pick up her order and she saw that the drawing I made was exactly the same photo she gave me.”
Mr. Mareko does a lot of his artwork projects at home at Vaitele-Fou where he lives with his parents, wife and children.
Despite the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic, he is not throwing in the towel, especially for a local entrepreneur who used to rely on tourists and visitors to make money.
He is determined to continue to give his best and says he relies on God to give him strength and advice.
“The Lord knows the situation my family is in in terms of trying to develop our family,” he said.
“I can do a lot of things, I can even sit down and decorate an ietoga. I can also do some carving and some other new things that are self-taught.”
And in this day and age, technology can be harnessed to add value to your business, which is why Mr. Mareko has embraced social media and set up a Facebook page for his business.
He believes using Facebook will enable him to overcome some of the challenges his business is currently facing due to COVID-19.
“I have sort of moved towards an online platform for our flea market because of this COVID-19 pandemic,” Poi added.
“I use my account to promote and advertise our flea market and I have quite a lot of friends who help spread the word.
“It’s really our luck if we make a sale a day but we thank the Lord for His help during these difficult times.”
You can find his Facebook page of the same name marketing many of his artistic products.