Aunt and Neice Duo Inez (left) and Danita 'Lilly'
Aunt and Neice Duo Inez (left) and Danita ‘Lilly run their home-based business JO’LI

As many companies downsize and outsource work to other countries and with internet telecommuting being both convenient and productive than ever, more and more SUGA entrepreneurs are discovering the benefits of running businesses from homes.

But the idea of spending more time with family and friends and ‘being your own boss’ doesn’t come as easily as some may think.

In order to really reap substantial benefits, you must be very passionate and self-disciplined in your business especially in the start up years – the kind of passion and discipline that is instilled in family members SUGA’s Danitta ‘Lilly’ Nio-Fretton, 18 and Inez Gosche, 32 also known as JO’LI, an elei print and design home business based in Fairfield, Sydney.

The super creative Aunt and neice duo were inspired and influenced at an early age.  Lilly’s father studied art at Victoria University in Wellington and the SUGA’s describe him as the Jack of all trades.

“He can build, paint, fix almost anything. He is very much into his textiles and just loves art,” says Lilly. “He always made me paint and draw with him. I realised very young that ‘wow’, I could make a career out of art.”

joli 2
JO’LI at work in their ‘office’

Her stylish nana, Tuilaepa Ulugia Josephine Stanley-Petaia (Inez’s mother) is the ‘matriarch’ of JO’LI but it is Lilly and Inez who actively run the business.

The JO’LI name is a combination of their great grandparents John Stanley (Jo) and Lilly Grey (Li) and of course Tuilaepa Ulugia ‘Jo’sephine.  They wanted a name that would represent and honour four generations of the Stanley/Grey lineage and history. Lilly explains that although their business is relatively new, Elei has been practiced for more than 20 years in her family.

It was Tuilaepa Ulugia that introduced them to the traditional practice of Elei.

“She (Tuilaepa Ulugia) used to elei all her materials and create outfits for every occasion she went to such as weddings, church and social outings.

“Everything from her sei and pearl necklaces to her earrings and bangles were really hard to find in Australia because everything she wore was from Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Aotearoa, Cook Islands, you name it.”

Taking note of those hard-to-find accessories would help define JO’LI’s uniqueness later on. As frequent travellers, they made sure to collect as many items from the islands as they could seeing as there weren’t many on Australian shores.  They would also scope out garments, fashion trends, handicrafts and materials that the Pacific had to offer.

Customers are loving JO’LI’s products

“Every time we saw a material, we would think of multiple ways we could converse, alter and play with colours.”

After officially registering the business this year, the SUGA entrepreneurs, whose favourite Pasifika designers include Lepou, Tav and Bayvick Designs, work very hard out of their ‘office’ in their backyard.

“We are a tight-knit family and the best thing about having a big Samoan aiga is that they too play a great role for instance ‘Papa’ creating our workshop, uncle making stencils and our sisters helping elei and cousins with deliveries.”

And just like any other start-up business, the girls know first hand about the challenges that come along with it.

“The hardest part in starting a business is capital.  We had to save as much as possible to raise enough to purchase a few materials and equipment and basically get the vision off the ground.  We also had to get over that fear of business failure.”

Project Pasifika Passion

Then there’s the promotional material.  JO’LI recently did a photo shoot called ‘Project Pasifika Passion.’

“It was an all-women’s project, from the crew to hair, make-up, photographers and the models. The name Pasifika Passion represented the uniting of all Pasifika women to support, celebrate and amplify the beauty of the Pacific through the arts of Elei and Fashion as one.”

The ladies make sure to continuously upskill their business knowledge.  With online studying becoming more popular, Lilly studies Small Business management through Open Colleges and Inez has completed business courses at TAFE.

They believe that there is a lot of potential for Pasifika designs in the global market because designers can make their designs relevant and modernise them to suit today’s fashon and trends.

8“Our materials can be used to create any outfit for any occasion. Take the Indian Sari – as beautiful as it is, not everyone is comfortable in them but our Pasifika designed materials are not only eye-catching and different, they can be made into any style outfit you desire.”

And their advice to other SUGA Entrepreneurs starting up business?

“A major issue, I see with women these days is the rivalry and competition – not every person with the same goal and purpose as you is seen as a ‘competitor.’ It’s really important to help others, help you – that is the true essence of Empowerment. With God anything is possible.”



Personal Freedom – As long as you have personal drive, discipline and time-management skills you may have what it takes to run a business from home.  No more spending hours in traffic, no bosses, no dress code, no set work-schedule and no office faikakalas!

Tax Advantages – There are advantages to having your home and office under one roof. You can deduct some of your home’s operating and depreciation expenses and declare it as a business expense.  This can be insurance or utilities ie. Phone and power.

Save Money – Once your business is up and running, you’ll notice you save money on gas and food.  Preparing a feed at home is more cost-effective. You might even be too busy to eat!

Less Stress – Juggling demands of work and family when you know you can stay home to care for a sick child and generally set your own schedule. And better yet, no more ringing work sick and putting on that ‘sick’ voice lol. (Hey we’ve all done it!)

Increased productivity – Because you’ll no longer have to budget time and energy for commuting and attending boring meetings in the office, you should have a lot more time and energy to make your business a success! Spice up your own meetings at home with your team too.  You can laugh poly-styles, louder than any corporate meeting you’ve ever been to!

To order, contact JO’LI on Facebook or visit their website!


  1. Hi there how humbling that you at Jo li have shared your passion for business I am looking at starting a home business, and hearing about your journey is so inspirational, I thank the lord for his strength he gives us all, God bless and you for inspiring others to step forward.


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