14 March, 2006

Fijian crafted materials - A good business for Akanisi Smith

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. Fijian crafted materials always have a unique look. With the modern era advancing, a wide range of choices are available for consumers in the likes of jewellery, albums, cars, mirrors, clothing and many more. Akanisi Smith is a designer of such crafts and runs her business under the name of Unik Craft. She designs wedding and birthday attire, flowers, vases, mobile hangings, mirrors, wall hangings and even dolls. All her work is made from traditional materials such as masi (tapa), magimagi (coconut sinet), vau, seeds and shells. At first, Akanisi started off with making flowers and then expanded slowly to other craft. Her biggest order for flowers was for the opening of the Sheraton hotels in Nadi where some were taken to be exhibited and sold. Orders for flowers also came from Wakaya Island Resort, Jack's Handicrafts and the Fiji Museum. Akanisi says that most of her orders are for flowers or mobile hangings and come from the Western Division because of the tourist market. She also makes about 4 wedding attires a year with an equivalent order for birthday attire. For flowers, she uses masi and voivoi (pandanus leaves) to make the flower and a short stalk to go with it. For the vulo mobile hanging, she uses sasa (the stalk of coconut leaves), vaivai seeds for the eyes, apart from the vulo (another part of the coconut tree). Akanisi also makes mirrors in her spare time in between orders. While most of her orders were from hotels, her flowers made an appearance at the 2003 South Pacific Games in Suva. Akanisi operates her business from home and says moving to Suva this year has made running her business much easier. She hopes to open up her own shop next year and export some of her crafts as well as she expands. Akanisi is now gearing up for the Pacific Arts Festival to be held later this year in Suva.

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