At work
At work
Laufa’i at work

It is simply not enough to be young and gorgeous, you’ve got to be ambitious too. Born and raised in the capital of American Samoa, Pago girl, Laufa’i Fanene, best known as “Rayne”, has paved quite the colourful path for herself. She is best known for her small business, that she currently operates from home, “Cupcake Kisses by Rayne”.

Rayne’s passion for cupcakes started when her nephews were in elementary school and she would always bake goodies for them to take to class parties or school bake sales. Though she received many great compliments on her baked goods, she never professionally pursued the feedback she received.

After high school, she worked at her sisters’ jewellery shop and clothing store. In September 2009, a terrible tsunami hit the shores of American Samoa, bringing devastation to the entire island and destroyed her sisters’ shops. She was then left unemployed and was forced to look for a job elsewhere. She applied to various government agencies and private sector companies, yet never received the opportunity she was hoping for. After waiting around for what felt like forever for a phone call or an interview, she decided take things into her own hands and change her own circumstances.After evaluating her situation at the time, she decided to take a leap of faith and apply for a business license with the American Samoa Department of Commerce. Baking cupcakes was no longer a hobby now, but a way of life. With little startup funds and limited resources, she utilized the things that she could use, at no cost, to boost her business. This free, major resource was Social Networking. Facebook became more than a way to communicate with families and friends, it was now a way to advertise and promote her products online.

DSC02496We all know the saying, that pictures speak a thousand words and that’s what attracted many people to Cupcakes Kisses. Her creative cupcake designs portrayed through her business Facebook page caught the attention of many people, not only in American Samoa, but abroad. Rayne eventually started her own website and began accepting orders online using PayPal, to secure the payments.

Customers started ordering for birthdays, weddings and just because occasions. Today, Cupcake Kisses is overwhelmed with orders from customers on and off-island that Rayne has set out to look for an actual Brick & Mortar location so she can better serve all her valued customers.

During my sit down interview with the amazing Rayne, I met the “manpower” behind her amazing cupcake business, her brother Charlie and nieces Puka and Jazzy. Her family is her biggest support system and her biggest motivator is her mother, High Chief Fanene Kava. Her mother is the drive behind her business, the one who constantly pushes her to do better and pushes her to do her best in all that she does. She was recently a recipient of the American Samoa Small Business Development Centre Commemorative Award, a $5,000 grant presented by Bank of Hawaii for Business expansion and creation. Earlier in the year, she was granted the Young Business Person of the Year Award by the Chamber of Commerce and Business & Professional Women of American Samoa.

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Rayne’s cupcakes are as sweet as her vibrant personality. When she isn’t in an apron baking, she helps out her church’s Sunday school group and spends time with her family. She is now the appointed secretary for the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce. Her idea of a fun evening is a glass of wine with good company and relaxing on her patio enjoying the beautiful view of Pago Bay. Rayne is also known for her stylish wardrobe and natural ability to act. She has been featured in various local music videos, the most recent one being Joshua Wellington’s Need You. She is happily taken and her significant other resides in the United States.

I asked how she handles the long distance relationship on top of what she already has going for her. Rayne confidently expresses that they keep the flame going by communicating. When someone means so much, distance isn’t a factor anymore. Through her relationship, she has become an excellent communicator and it has helped her in her professional life.

I went home that night with two-dozen boxes of mouth watering cupcakes. My family totally demolished both boxes within the hour. My Dad who is such a food critic, had nothing but positive things to say about Rayne’s homemade cupcakes. Rayne’s story is truly an inspiration to myself and I’m sure, to many others. Not only does she provide a quality product and service to her customers, she is genuine and sincere in all that she does. She is a great role model and her story has the ability to empower young women in the Pacific and around the world.

– Tamara Ledoux

 

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