Samoan couple overcomes adversity to launch shop

A Samoan couple successfully launched a new gift shop in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday despite the premises being broken into days before its scheduled opening. 

Samoan couple, Sialei Pandorah Aloalii and John Aloalii, opened the shop, Johlei, in Cranbourne West on Saturday.

They had originally planned to launch the shop the Saturday before but the shop was broken into just days before the opening. 

Ms. Aloaliii told the Samoa Observer that although the incident had shaken up the couple it ultimately had only deepened their resolve. 

“The incident that happened last week brought so much mixed emotions but surely it didn’t discourage us,” she said. 

“We were amazed [by] the support from our community and even our family [and] friends from around the world.

“We knew we weren’t alone in this journey and for that we are grateful. We are much stronger than we were a few weeks back.”

Ms. Aloalii said that life-changing experiences were a means of finding purpose in life. 

The couple struggled with time management in the lead up to the shop’s opening as they both worked full-time but were working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Despite their plans for Joheli starting to unravel, Ms. Aloalii said that opening Johlei had brought out the best in the couple and drawn on their best talents. 

“Through our life changing experiences, we knew there was something greater when we [discovered our…] purpose in life,” Ms Aloalii said. 

“We found our strengths and we started working from there. In all honesty, time was somehow hard to find, [but] we had the vision and the idea [and] we both worked full time.”

She noted that the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent much of the Australian state of Victoria into lockdown, gave the couple extra time while they worked from home. 

“We were inspired by so many successful people but our parents are practical living testimonies of how precious the Grace of Jesus is,” she said. 

“We’ve seen their [sweat] and tears night and day; we were often reminded not to give up on our dreams. 

“Johlei was established to bring forth the very best in us and to make use of God’s given gifts to bless those around us.”

The store stocks a variety of Polynesian accessories such as jewelry, clothing and shoes. They are also looking at expanding their business.

“Some of what we supplied were designed by our own designers,”  Ms. Aloalii said. 

“Our team is looking into bringing new surprises early next year. 

“Our vision is to open outlets in shopping malls and expand [our] product line online from jewelry to fashion, home hardware [and more].”

Ms Aloalii hopes that one day, Johlei will be brought home to Samoa and provide job opportunities for the families of the people of Samoa. 

“We can never thank God enough for his favour upon our small family business especially with bringing people to us,” she said 

“To our young people, discover yourself, find out what makes you stand out from the crowd, and work [on] your talents. You will be wiser with where your dreams and vision can take you.

“[Samoans are] one of the most well-educated [and] qualified people in the Pacific but we are too comfortable with where we are.

Ms. Aloalii is the daughter of Tiliilagi Faalanu Mulipola and Auapa’au Aloitafua Mulipola from the villages of Samatau Falelatai and Salua Manono while her husband John is from the villages of Luatuanuu and Salani Falealili.

She attended St Mary’s College before completing a Certificate of Commerce from the National University of Samoa in 2008 before furthering her studies in New Zealand. She later moved to Melbourne, Australia where she met her husband who has a background in commercial finance and has more than ten years of experience in Commonwealth Bank of Australia.  

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