BY JOY OFASIA
JUSTINA Radclyffe’s background profession was a physiotherapist. But after she realised her passion in life is fashion, she decided to pursue a business entrepreneurship career in the Solomon Islands emerging fashion industry.
In 2014 Justina founded the Association Solomon Islands in Creative Fashion (ASICF) – a non- profit organization in the country, with the priority objective to support the growth of local talent and encourage creativity as well as entrepreneurship in the local fashion industry.
“I was an active member of Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA), and I later realised that I can create a Business Association to exposure and promote the so many potential and talented women as designers and tailors in the country so that can make a difference in their lives.
“I’m sure the country is full of such talents and I can only imagine, if natural talent is harnessed with formal training, just how incredible the outcome will be. I want to be very supportive of local talents and initiatives such as this because they are directly related to the promotion of the Solomon Islands Made brand – because to purchase a local Made product would help to create jobs and promote growth in the economy and society,” Justin exclusively told Solomon Women.
The first three years, she started her business from home and was supported financially by his husband since then till now. Within those three years, she tried to look for a proper space to move into her new office.
She held trainings for the members who are mostly home- based business owners giving those ideas and the opportunity to explore their passion into fashion as designers.
“It was quite a challenge for the association when working from home and doing all administrations from home. It was from the fundraisings through the fashion week shows held annually, that the Association managed to find a space and finally moved out and had a proper office.
“Being strict with the money that’s how we ended up very successful.
“Fashion week held annually in Honiara organised by the association is to fundraise money and mainly to promote our local fashion designers collections to another level. With all the designers collections there are criteria’s that they have to follow which are equivalent to the overseas criteria,” Justina said.
“A biggest acknowledgement and gratitude to all our main sponsors, they are our back bone without them we cannot have gone this far,” Justina acknowledged.
Now as one of the many achievements to the country’s fashion industry, three designers have been selected to participate to showcase their garments in the upcoming London Pacific fashion week next year. To the industry, this is another achievement and shows that we are improving a lot.
According to Justina, she really wanted to create a space and a platform to mentor and train young aspiring fashion designers and models in the country, where they can present fashion without any ‘notions of Western fashion’ being attached to it.
“Taking for example, in school not all students are good in all subjects, some are good and creative with their mind with using their hands. This is where the fashion comes in and we have so many hidden talented young people who are passionate in fashion who can come in and bring the fashion industry to the next level.
“Fashion industry is a billion dollar business, to be a fashion designer you do not have to be an ‘A’ student, but it is the talent and desire toward fashion that drives you to be in this field,” Justina said.
With her experience in the fashion industry for many years, Justina wanted the fashion industry in the Solomon Islands to grow on further to a next level.
“Our aim now is to build a fashion industry and textile school to build the fashion industry level up and to give opportunity and access to students who passionate fashion. Instead of going overseas to study fashion, they can be able to access it here in the country,” she said.
Justina said that this will give the opportunity to designers who have family who cannot study abroad but to access the education in country.
“Fashion is very important, because it gives a person confidence, taking for example, what you wear is your identity and it gives a person good and relaxed feeling and impacts your wellbeing. When dressed beautifully in a fashion you like it gives you a sense of pride,” Justina said.
Justina also train and mentor models equivalent to overseas model criteria and with this Solomon Island models perform real well in the international fashion shows.
“For our young generation who has the passion in fashion…it is important to see the designers who are now going forward as an example and to be inspired by them. This is a money making talent so go for it.
“We also wish for the government to recognise the importance of fashion in the country and help bring up the industry with us.
“It is very important for our designers to advertise themselves on social media promoting themselves because this how people will get know about your work and what you create this is how they will reach out to you,” she said.