I am Danitta Lilly, founder of JO'LI Elei which started in May 2015 at the tender age of 17. I have always been a very proud and passionate Pacific woman & love my Samoan heritage. Starting this small business was such an exciting venture as it would be a way to commemorate my Samoan roots as well as share these motifs, patterns, prints and colours of the Pacific with the world. My Mama Lessie, we would spend lots of time together and she would teach me how to mix paint, use the printing boards, paint and use the stencils. She always had a creative flair and love for elei, textiles, handicrafts and fashion. She supported JO'LI from its very early stages. Whilst planning and building JO'LI in its early stages, I also had the amazing support of my mother Fuimaono & God-mother Inez. They were apart of every order, photoshoot, plan and pitched into every crazy idea there was.
I opened it from my home and was a project that started in my room with the amazing support of my family. I would have my cousin Vincent drive everywhere with me, my Uncle making a workshop table and have my Uncles, aunties, friends and cousins support me from near and afar. Starting with the production of hand printed elei fabrics at first.
In 2016, we had to expand to creating custom made clothing with our hand printed elei fabrics. There are many businesses and services who provide Pacific/Polynesian fabrics and clothing but we wanted to be different in catering to all generations and genders, sizes and styles. We also saw the need to create niche markets to serve our people and community. A way to express our love of art, fashion, colours and culture. During this time our entire home had been taken over for JO'LI Elei.
From 2016-2018, we had been a part of many community events, such as Samoa Day Showcase, we showcased the art of Elei and how the traditional method style of printing, in present time used for modern Pacific fashion, textiles, products and clothing. In 2017, we were apart of the Samoa Sinnet Fashion Show held at the Taumeasina Island Resort and also participated in the Pacific Runway Fashion Show at the Marquee. In 2018, we participated in the Pacific Runway at the Carriageworks. These were great experiences to showcase our work and collections.
We have served many amazing people along the way. Creating for formals and proms, engagements and weddings, anniversaries and birthday celebrations and many special occasions. It has been such an honour to be a part of special celebrations and parts of our customers lives. It is a blessing to serve others and that is what we strive for. There have been many learning curves, obstacles and experiences along the way.
Now we are in 2020. Operating for 5 years now and what a journey it has been. I now run the business full-time with my Fiance Derek Ah Chong. We now share a business and child together. We both are very proud Samoans and hold the same love for all things art, creative, Pacific and fashion.
Our woman man team are behind the production, correspondence, marketing, images, postage and handling, packaging and so much more.
Running a small business is hard work but is definitely worth it when we see how happy our clients are with their custom Elei products.
Thank you for choosing support small businesses and Pacific owned business.
Light & Love,
Danitta Lilly and Derek