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Tahiti visit inspires clothing label

Monday March 19, 2018 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
Talissa Koteka and Alanna Smith the duo behind the locally made surf label, Vatea Co. 18031605 Talissa Koteka and Alanna Smith the duo behind the locally made surf label, Vatea Co. 18031605

When local girls Talissa Koteka and Alanna Smith travelled to Tahiti in 2016, the idea to create a Cook-Island based clothing label was born.

The girls saw there was a gap in the local surf wear market and began the process of launching their own clothing company, Vatea Co.

“We both like travelling. We were in Tahiti one trip and we realised how many local Tahitian labels there were”, Talissa said.

“We were thinking there is Hinano which is a Tahitian label that they sell here at CITC, but what about Cook Islands brands? There are no surf or lifestyle clothing labels here.”

Having decided to go ahead, as with any new business the first matter to attend to was deciding on a name for the business.

Talissa said they both wanted their label name linked to the Cook Islands.

“We went through a couple of things, but decided we ultimately wanted a Cook Island Maori word so that it can be tied back to the Cook Islands, but we also didn’t want to limit it to just Rarotonga”.

Alanna said they researched Cook Islands history books before deciding on “Vatea”.

“Vatea is a mythological creature, half man, half fish, who was the father of Tangaroa who was of course the god of the sea. We wanted to tie the brand to the ocean and have an adventure feel to it.”

The self-proclaimed water babies, said they also wanted the name and their label to reflect their lifestyles, their values and who they are.

Tattoo artist Luther Berg was responsible for the logo design.

“We gave him a brief and he came back with options for us. In the end we narrowed it down to six or seven. We both picked the same thing, so it was meant to be,” Talissa said.

The pair met through mutual friends before studying together at Otago University. Talissa completed a commerce and law degree while Alanna received a Bachelor of Applied Sciences majoring in Environmental Management.

They say they work well-together as a team.

“She is the yin to my yang,” Alanna said.

Talissa says both have different strengths that they bring to the company, helping them to achieve success.

“I still have super proud moments when I see someone wearing Vatea, like wow we did that, Talissa said.

The main challenge the girls face is balancing their full-time careers alongside Vatea Co.

“We both have full-time jobs and are focusing on our careers, and Alanna is Miss Cook Islands. Sometimes we have to pencil in time for Vatea on the side,” Talissa said.

Plans are in place for the duo to launch a winter collection later this year and they may also open a store together.

“We have always wanted a store shop which is half chill zone, coffee shop sort of feel and selling the product as well, Raro really doesn’t have anything like that,” Alanna said.

“We are quite happy with how things are at the moment, but if it got to that point that we could have full-time staff to man a store, we would definitely look into doing it

The girls say they are grateful for the support they have received from the beginning from their parents, families and good friends.

Vatea Co clothing and hats are available online through their company’s Facebook page.