Kiribati women’s fashion businesses inspire and thrive

Tuimata Baoti and Arinateiti Baia. Their success has inspired other Kiribati women.

A splash of colour from Arina Sewing
A splash of colour from Arina Sewing

Stylish and elegant clothing from Tui Fashion.
Stylish and elegant clothing from Tui Fashion.

by Alisha McLennan
Communications student

Two Warkworth Kiribati women, who harnessed their love of sewing to start businesses from their homes, are now selling island-style clothing throughout New Zealand.

And their success has inspired other women in Warkworth’s substantial Kiribati community to do the same.   

Arinateti Baia and Tuimata Baoti create and sell tibutas (a traditional woman’s blouse), shirts, dresses and children’s clothing. Once made, the clothes are picked up or posted to customers. Both women have buyers from as far away as Hamilton and Wellington, as well as locally. Arina Sewing is Arinateiti’s first business, but she has been sewing since she was 15.  

“I can make three dresses a day, or five men’s T-shirts a day sometimes, when I’m not busy with my kids,” she says.

Arinateti had already been doing some sewing to help members of her community. With the support of Mahu Vision Trust, which assists migrants to settle in New Zealand, she was able to turn that skill into a business and advertise it on the Mahu Pacific Facebook page. Inspired by Arinateti’s example, Tuimata recently started Tui Fashion.

Earlier this year, she established her own Facebook page, which has made her even busier.  “I enjoy sewing, being creative and helping my family,” she says.

Their main customers are from the Kirabati community, but their products are available to anyone.

Info: Tui Fashion on Facebook or phone Arinateti on 021 1541 7850.

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