U.S.P. graduate hits strap with her 'thousand miles journey'
For 25-year-old entrepreneur Jessica Christie Ah Tong, her life now makes her favourite quote “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” feel so real.
She is the owner of the business called J.A.D.S. which is the acronym for Jessica's Arts and Designs Samoa with the crown on her business logo symbolising ‘Our Mother Mary’ as her queen.
Hailing from the seaside village of Luatuanuu on the north coast of Upolu, her business focuses on crafting, creating art as well as designing.
Ms Ah Tong graduated from the University of South Pacific in Suva with a Bachelor of Commerce double major in human resource and public administration management.
But for now her focus is on her life as an entrepreneur and she admits in an interview with the Samoa Observer that the journey wasn’t easy.
"I started with nothing and had to save little by little every time to buy the equipment and resources that I needed to start my business,” she said.
“My major challenge was not having enough capital to start but I had to start somewhere.
And funnily enough owning a business was never part of her plans and was something that just happened.
"The idea of starting JADS or having my own business wasn't something I had envisioned at a young age,” she added.
“It just happened in God's perfect timing, I went through a lot of challenges but the Lord saved me and assured me that I have a purpose in life that I need to fulfill.”
And operating during a COVID-19 pandemic also brought forth its challenges including the delay in getting supplies, which Ms Ah Tong said led to her improvising with whatever resources were locally available in Samoa.
It also meant she had to learn to use her resources wisely whilst being efficient.
As a startup business, one of the other challenges that she faced was establishing her brand and finding customers, though social media enabled her to get over that hurdle.
"I am grateful for social media, that is where I market my business and engage my customers.
“Majority of my customers are from social media, I also have Samoans living overseas who order for their families here in Samoa.”
Despite the economic challenges last year, the business continues to get good feedback from customers, which Ms Ah Tong says has now become her driving force to become more creative for her customers’ benefit.
She is keen on expanding her business and hopes she can move in that direction with more product offerings for her customers.
And while it may all sound like more hard work, she hopes her journey can inspire young Samoans to believe in themselves as they can achieve anything they want to do in life, though one should continue to work hard and let God be at the centre.