South Beach surf shop located alongside Fave Designs in Avarua, is the the brain-child of Ana File-Heather and is designed to help support local designs.
File-Heather and her husband Damian both wanted to update the space in their building that previously housed a small coffee bar and the idea of creating a small surf shop came almost immediately.
With the printing business operating out of Fave Designs, File-Heather was already in contact with Laylo creator Temanava Macquarie (Terito) and talks began to bring her designs into the new space.
Macquaire said she was proud to be part of the new initiative, showcasing Cook Islands women in business.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase what we can do as Cook Islands women. It was also perfect timing for me as it coincided with my move to New Zealand and it means that Laylo has a great new home for my local customers.”
With both Laylo and Liliko’I both being primarily available online, Ana said having both in South Beach was important to both brands.
“I know both girls spoke to me about being keen to have the brands housed in the shop as having them online can be quite time-consuming, but it also opens their brands up to different consumers,” Macquaire said.
“We have already had tourists come in and buy products from each of the brands. Some are not your typical tourist who is wanting to take home your usual Rarotongan souvenir of a pareu. They want something more unique and different to showcase their time here in the Cook Islands.”
Having her brand remain home-grown and locally supported, is important to Macquarie.
“I am a big believer in supporting local. Even though I have moved to New Zealand, Laylo Rarotonga will continue to be made and sold here. I have plans for a separate operation in New Zealand, but that will be the same, (stocking clothing) made in New Zealand so I am supporting local across both countries.”
The third local brand in the store is Liliko’i Bikini’s by Reihana Wiki-Koteka.
As a mentor for the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, File-Heather said the best advice she could give to young budding designers is to do the research.
“Those who are thinking about starting a brand and being a designer, I would say look around and see what is missing in the market place. Look for where you can fill a gap instead of creating something that is already there, be different”.
File-Heather is now looking for a jewellery brand to potentially join the girls at South Beach, to continue to showcase Cook Islands talent.