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11 November 2022

Seizing opportunities and daring to dream big

Monday 11 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Seizing opportunities and daring to dream big
The Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) and the Cook Islands Business & Professional Women Association celebrated the International Women’s Day with inspiring stories from, left, Teiti Nia - chief engineer at Te Aponga Uira, and businesswomen Tatiana Burns and Mona Taio. BCI/24031001

A young Cook Islands entrepreneur, overcame challenges to build a successful fitness business that empowers women and celebrates Cook Islands culture.

The Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) and the Cook Islands Business and Professional Women Association celebrated the International Women’s Day last Friday with a special breakfast boosted by great company and inspirational speeches at The Islander Hotel.

Businesswomen Tatiana Burn and Mona Taio, and Te Aponga Uira chief engineer Teiti Nia, who is paving the way for women in the engineering field, all shared their personal journeys with the audience.

Expert cultural artist and entrepreneur, 28-year-old Taio is the founder of Tamure Fitness and is passionate about health and wellbeing, providing a platform for women to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by getting into shape with fun dance classes.

From a young age, she was exposed to “entrepreneurship”, seeing and learning through the endeavours of her grandfather, Tapi Taio of Taio Shipping, and her father Josiah Taio, who have both successfully built businesses of their own.

“Witnessing their dedication and motivation ignited within me the aspiration to chart my own course as my own boss,” said Taio.

She began her education at Avatea Primary School followed by Tereora College.

Soon after Taio joined the workforce where she says she found her footing in marketing and trade.

“Working for Government provided me with invaluable opportunities to hone my skills, undergo training, and broaden my horizons. It was during this period that I realised my potential as a leader and innovator in the business world as a young Cook Islander.”

Reflecting on her past employment experiences she said: “I realised that I often felt undervalued and constrained by the demands of others.”

“This realisation fuelled a fundamental shift in my mindset – I no longer desired to be confined to the structure of a 9 to 5 job.

“I yearned for the freedom to pursue ventures that resonated with my own passions and values.”

Driven by the urge to learn more and discover new experiences, Taio did just that.

In 2022, she embarked on her very own entrepreneurial journey launching MStyles – a clothing business catering to stylish women seeking unique and accessible fashion.

With a sharp eye for fashion and selecting trendy apparel, MStyles quickly gained traction within the local community.

Recognising the potential in the local market for the supply of helmets since government legislated the compulsory use of helmets on Rarotonga, she took the opportunity in local trade and expanded her business portfolio to include German helmets – also known as “The helmet plug Raro”.

Capitalising on the demand for quality headgear, she quickly positioned her brand as a trusted supplier for the youth.

In 2019, she founded Tamure Fitness, a goal close to her heart that finally came to fruition.

“My ultimate goal was clear: to empower our community to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) while providing a sanctuary for women to enjoy ura, dedicating one hour of their day to themselves,” she said.

“NCDs have become a looming threat to our well-being. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are claiming lives and diminishing quality of life.

“Tamure Fitness emerged as a beacon of hope, offering not just a workout regime, but a holistic approach to health and happiness.”

Over the past three years, Tamure Fitness has welcomed thousands of women to their ura sessions.

“Women come to us sharing their dreams of shedding pounds, gaining confidence and reclaiming their sense of self-worth.

“And through our challenges, our classes, and our unwavering support, they’ve achieved that and much more.

“Together, we’ve celebrated victories, overcome obstacles, and forged bonds that go beyond the walls of our dance club.”

The positive impact of Tamure Fitness now extends far beyond the local community. Taio said as the stories of the transformation of women spread around the globe, a demand began to emerge – a demand for Tamure to break free from the confines of present physical space and reach those living overseas.

Understanding and embracing the prospects of growing her fitness programme, Taio set about establishing her own website for Tamure Fitness – a platform that caters for the vibrant community of ura fitness enthusiasts all over the world.

In early January this year, Tamure Fitness’s online presence became a reality, marking the dawn of a new chapter in their journey.

“The response to our inaugural video was nothing short of phenomenal, resonating with viewers from across the globe - from New Zealand to Australia, from the United States to Japan and Mexico,” she said. “Our content captured the hearts and minds of fitness enthusiasts far and wide and it also showcases our beautiful culture, language and our beautiful island.”

Tamure Fitness has a substantial following of 46,000 on Facebook and 9,000 on Instagram. Taio and the instructors deliver invigorating ura classes to these followers.

Seizing the opportunity, Taio and her team implemented a payment portal, providing their audience with a seamless way to directly support the platform. This innovative feature allows for direct transactions, breaking new ground in facilitating payments and fostering a stronger connection with the Tamure Fitness community.

“As we continue to develop and expand our content offerings, I am inspired by the potential of Tamure Fitness to empower individuals on their fitness journey all over the world.

“I have so many big plans for the online space… but I just need time to sit and relook at my goals and what I want from them.”

Her ultimate goal is financial freedom – “when I can orchestrate my various business ventures from the comfort of my own home with no constraints, it allows me the flexibility to prioritise family while pursuing my passion for business.”

Taio said her achievements have come with its challenges.

“My own life experience has been a testament to the trials and tribulations that come with taking risks.

“But I thrive on challenges. I take the opportunity to push through adversity and emerge stronger on the other side.”

Taio firmly believes that life is meant to be lived to its fullest.

“For me that means embracing uncertainty, seizing opportunities, and daring to dream big.

“After all, you’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you’re willing to try.”