A young Samoan Fashion Designer says she doesn’t see her physical limitations as a reason to limit her dreams.
Tia Semi, 20 from Perth was born deaf, with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other intellectual disabilities.
Her mother Gina Semi, was told by doctors at the time that Tia would most likely be in a bed for the rest of her life.
Two decades later and Tia is living life to the full and enjoying her newfound love for fashion designing.
“Tia has always loved anything that has island patterns on it,” says Gina.
“Her father and brothers have Samoan designs tattooed on them and Tia loves looking at the art and draws inspiration from it for her work.”
Since Tia completed high school two years ago, a chapter that Gina says was also challenging, she then became uncertain of what her daughter could do next.
Gina turned to community support workers and other mentors who all came together to form a plan that helped Tia to recognise her likes and strengths; it was there where they discovered that Tia had a love for fashion design and even modelling.
Tia started printing and designing clothes in early 2017 and in February this year, she launched her very first runway show for her new clothing label ‘Funk & Soul’.
Shortly after her launch, Tia was invited to showcase her line at another event alongside WA based Penina dance group and then on to Independence Day celebrations in June.
Her Samoan family are from Fasito’o Uta (Grandfather, Silulu family), Saleilua, Falealili and Satitoa, Aleipata (Grandmother’s Leilua and Te’o families).
Gina says her daughter has always felt a strong connection to her Samoan side. The family visited Samoa for the first time in 2009 and she remembers an excited Tia gushing ‘Samoa, my Samoa’ as they landed. They look forward to visiting Samoa again next year especially since Tia’s grandfather has started a new family plantation in the village of Tiavea.
But until then Tia will be busy showcasing her designs at gigs like Eco Fashion Week Australia in November and the International Day of ‘People with Disability’ celebrations in December.
And next year, she says she has her sights set on featuring at the big Pacific Runway shows in Sydney – to prove that even people with disabilities can still reach for the stars.
Follow Tia on instagram @funknsoul97