A hobby turns in to thriving family business
A small side business that began in 2004, operating on the fringes of the normal hustle and bustle of family life, has grown in to a thriving livelihood for the family of Anita Poutoa.
Nani's Creations have operated out of the Savalalo Flea Market for 17 years, and are currently located at Shop Number 8 in the central shopping hub in Apia.
Anita's daughter, Junita Poutoa Vasa, told the Samoa Observer that her mother started small in order to support the family.
“Nani’s Creations is a family business, it is named after my little sister pet’s name Nani which means Glory in Hawaiian," said Junita.
"Learning how to sew was one of my mother’s goals to help earn money to put food on our table and send us to school
"It was our mother’s hobby to sew together with the help of my dad who did the elei, later on in 2004 they turned it into a small business.”
The fledgling venture remained small at the time as profits earned by Mrs. Poutoa went directly towards school feels, daily expenses, church contributions and family matters.
Junita said it was a struggle to maintain over the years.
“From 2014 to 2016 our educational levels grew higher and fees got more expensive, we struggled to keep our small business.
"I recall one of our Pastors telling my mother that her success was in her hands, and that God will hold her hand through it all.
"My mother held on to that prophetic word and by 2017 her business grew tremendously.”
Advice from Junita's brother, urging her mother to commit and take a big risk in order to expand and grow, lead to a decision that would change their lives.
“My brother Biblo who was 18 at the time, forced our mother to take the risk of investing all our family had then into expanding the business. And she took that risk.
"It was a huge step for our family.”
In 2018, Junita returned from China and saw the possibilities to expand Nani’s Creations, as their elei was in high demand.
“This was when I saw my part to be able to help our family’s business. I started a business page on Facebook and this was when we saw more open doors for our small business.
"My mother was our only seamstress until 2019, this was when we started recruiting seamstresses to help her because she could no longer keep up with the orders we were getting.”
Junita’s brothers, Biblo and Chris, were their only elei team with the help of their father Junior, and her husband Leti when her brothers were tied up with assignments.
Now, Nani's Creations employs three seamstresses and three elei printers, added on to their original team.
The business have established resellers in Tuvalu, Tokelau, New Zealand, Australia and the United States of America. The family is looking to expand into other Pacific nations.
Junita admitted that it was a tough journey for their mother who tried to keep Nani’s Creations together.
“As this was her side job, she would wake up at 5 am every morning to sew our orders, before she heads out for her actual job. Then when she gets off work at 5 pm, starts sewing again when she gets home.
"This become her routine until we were able to afford extra hands to help out. Nani’s Creations is now our main income and it has lifted the [standard of living] of our family tremendously.
"We owe it all to our mother, she and our father grew up in a tough environment. We got everything we have now the easy way because of our parents.”
The business' sales dropped last year when the pandemic struck, but they are recovering slowly.
Nani’s Creations birthed Maua Passion, another side venture offering scrunchies, gift boxes, ie lavalava and wreaths. This is Biblo Poutoa and his partner Gina Lemisio’s contribution to their business.
Nani’s Creation specialise in handmade elei material, clothing and ensembles for adults and children.
Junita expressed her gratitude to Nani's Creations customer and resellers for their support and honest feedback. She acknowledged the growth of their business was due to customer support.
“We have another line of goods dropping soon and we are opening a new shop soon,” she added.