SUGA’s Kourtni Ann Leofa, 26 and Jasmine Faapito, 27 had attended many business networking events in Brisbane but felt there was still a need for a unique network to cater to a growing number of Pacific Island business owners in the area.
The friends brainstormed and initially created a Facebook Group named Polynesian Women in Business. But they soon changed the title to something more fitting and this month Boss Society was born – with a successful launch to mark the occasion.
Co-founder Kourtni-Ann, who launched her own skincare business Manaia Skincare three years ago and more recently has co-written her first Polynesian Mythology novel, says it’s really important for entrepreneurs, particularly Pacific Islanders to have a space where they can exchange contacts and share their stories and experiences.
“Most of the events we’d been to are all female focused or male focused. And we’re are all about equality so we wanted to break down that exclusiveness and erase that ‘segregration’ too,” she says.
“While our audience is predominantly PI, we also want to open it to males and females from other walks of life.”
Kourtni knows all too well about the challenges one can face when starting business.
“We want to hear about other people’s struggles because we can totally relate! The biggest one that gives me anxiety is the fact that you have staff that depend on you for a wage. So you have no choice but to succeed. How will you pay them let alone yourself? They too have families and bills and sometimes the pressure can be overwhelming. So I think the best way to overcome these challenges is to reach out to other business owners.”
Her older sister Xanetia was a key guest speaker at the launch. Xanetia, a boss herself who enjoys a successful modelling career which she built on her own largely through instagram, is now a social media influencer with over 100,000 followers.
Kourtni says although she believes there is a gap in the market for Pacific products, she really wants to push Pacific business owners to market their products and services to ‘mainstream’ consumers.
“You know when you scroll through social media and especially Instagram, you see all these fashion sites by amazing entrepreneurs both here and overseas. You turn on the radio and you hear latino music like despacito and think, ‘wow that should be our people up there’.
“I think we as a culture need to broaden our perspectives. How nice would it be to hear our music played at the hottest clubs in LA or Rihanna wearing our fashion. If your branding or marketing isn’t appealing to mainstream, how are they going to take notice of you? Boss Society are so passionate about seeing our people take it to the top and beyond.”
Budding Entrepreneurs and Business owners can join the Boss Society page on Facebook.