It has been said that twins, whether identical or fraternal, experience life in tandem. Perhaps that stems from being together from birth and developing at key stages together.
This rings true for fraternal twins Miriama Vulavou Penjueli and Lai Vulavou Fong from Cautata village in Tailevu whose love for fashion is one of their common bonds.
The sisters co-own Suite 199, a fashion, lingerie and Avon cosmetics boutique located along Victoria Parade in Suva.
“Our passion for fashionable clothing is the reason we decided to invest in this business. We’ve always been fashion inclined growing up. When my sister had her daughter, we realised the difficulty of finding fashionable children’s wear so we decided that there was a market for this,” Miriama said.
The sisters opened their business in 2003 retailing only children’s clothing and trading as Junior Zone however by 2006 they decided to branch out to women’s lingerie as the return from children’s clothing was not profitable.
“We decided to make the shift to women’s clothing in 2008 as this is always a big market. We also relocated to our current location on Victoria Parade from Gordon Street. This is more convenient and good for business as it is on the main street where everyone can see.”
“When we started, both our husbands were working so we didn’t need the money but rather, we did this to fulfill our desires in fashion and to share that with our customers. However, the move to our current location has been really positive as our business has really grown and financial returns improved.”
Miriama, who manages the shop in Suva, attended Latter Day Saints Technical College in Suva and like her sister, learned the business hands on without any training of formal business.
“Starting a business and maintaining it is really common sense and takes a lot of discipline. You have to be inspired by it so that it drives you to achieve your business ambitions because you cannot wake up overnight and decide to start a new business. You need to know what the market demands and understand what consumers want.”
As a 100% locally owned business, Suite 199 provides the latest trends in clothing, shoes and accessories. They also stock a wide range of lingerie including sports bras, strapless bras and cotton briefs. In addition, they also have a wide range of Avon beauty products from make-up and pampering products.
Suite 199 imports majority of its items from Australia and around 30% is produced locally by designers and fashion enthusiasts.
“We try to be upbeat with the latest fashion from Australia and even Fiji. Being up to date with the latest fashion is being relevant as our customers are aware of what is latest in the market. The crux of being in business is to know what the customer wants and going out of your way to avail these for them.”
Suite 199 will be part of the FDB Market this Saturday 14th June at the FDB car park on Victoria Parade in Suva. The market day is an initiative by the bank to provide an additional avenue for its agriculture, small & medium enterprises and corporate clients to market, promote and sell their products.
Similarly, this provides bank clients the opportunity to build business relations with one another.
“We see the market day as an avenue where our clients can further progress. Our agro-producers get to meet with those that process agro-produce for export or local consumption and perhaps find ways in which they can assist one another,” FDB General Manager Relationship and Sales Mr. Tevita Madigibuli said.
“We look at the whole business life cycle of our clients and try to find avenues that can boost them to the next level and the market day is one of those opportunities.”
The Market Day opens this Saturday from 6am to 1pm.