Running a clothing business is much more meaningful when you have your twin sister by your side.
Twins Ropina Nuumaalii and Ropeta Leatitagaloa, 37, are the founders of Twins Pacific Designs, specialising in island-designed clothing and servicing a growing Pacific community in the Melbourne region.
Ropeta started out making clothes for friends and families in Samoa, working from their home village of Fagali’i. Years later they eventually migrated and settled in Melbourne with their young families.
Ropina learnt to sew after watching her self-taught twin create clothes for many years. She decided to learn the ropes and take on a formal sewing course in Melbourne.
Ropina admits that it was their lack of confidence that set them back from officially starting their own company which they only launched this year. And with Melbourne Pacific seamstresses being in short supply, the timing felt right.
“We felt like we weren’t good enough before and people would tell us that too,” she laughs.
But a call from Miss Samoa Melbourne organisers asking them if they would be keen on sponsoring a full wardrobe for the current Miss Samoa Melbourne, Lanuola Price, to wear at the Miss Samoa pageant a couple of months back, helped boost their confidence.
“It was the first time we had ever been part of the Miss Samoa pageant. We never got this opportunity back in Samoa.”
Running around frantically backstage at the pageant which was held on the big island of Savai’i this year, was an adrenaline rush for them and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The twins bubbly personalities is immediately infectious, making their customers come back for more. Working together also means that they are able to produce quality garments efficiently.
Some Samoans would agree that setting up a new business or idea will naturally attract negative nancy’s or trolls. And that when it comes to the Samoan community especially, this negativity can sometimes be on another level.
The twins describe a strange phone call they received from an anonymous Samoan-speaking person recently who threatened to dob them into the police, accusing the twins of not having an officially registered licence to operate a business in Australia. The voice on the other end then hung up.
They giggle, not wanting to make assumptions or jump to conclusions, but say that the phone call left them a little baffled and reminded them of the naysayers.
“Never let people dampen your spirits and always follow your heart.”
Follow Twins Pacific Designs on Facebook and support Samoan Businesses!