Q & A with Heather Vakaosooso
Q & A with Student Designer Heather Marama
Heather Marama Vakaosooso is one Fiji’s most recognised faces in the fashion industry in Fiji. Heather applied to the Wearing Fiji Project mentorship program with a strong design and textile application.
Heather studied graphic design in screen printing and signage at FNU and is a young mum making the transition from the runway to fashion design.
We sat down with her for a Q & A about her journey and what her debut collection is inspired by.
1.How old are you and what do you currently do?
I am 31 years old, I am a sales assistant at the Z'N Boutique and a free-lance graphics designer.
2.Where did you go to school? (Tertiary/Primary/Secondary)?
Primary: Namaka Public School
Secondary: Swami Vivekananda College
Tertiary: FNU Certificate IV Graphics Design in Screen Printing and Signage
3. Why did you apply to the mentorship program?
I heard about the mentorship from a friend of mine who had pushed me to apply as well saying how it is a great opportunity to help me jump start my fashion designing career and to release my first collection and get my name out there. That's why I applied.
4. As a model of the industry, how will this help you with your debut collection and label?
As a fashion model, I have an advantage in creating my debut collection and label. I have an eye for fashion and know what looks good on people.
I can use my experience in the industry to create pieces that are both stylish and functional. I can also use my connections in the industry to help promote my collection and label.
However, creating a fashion collection requires more than just an eye for fashion. It requires creativity, marketing, trends, deadlines, and many other factors. A collection is a set of pieces of clothing and/or accessories that have some relationship with each other. This relationship is usually centered on the chosen theme, which in turn is related to the consumer’s style and the image of a particular brand or a designer.
For me to create a successful debut collection and label, I need to learn more about the processes involved in creating a fashion collection and I can always seek advice from other designers or industry professionals.
5. As a mum what are some things that you think have influenced your fashion journey?
As a mother, there are many things that can influence one’s fashion journey. Some of these things include the need for comfort and practicality when taking care of children, the desire to look good and feel confident and comfortable while juggling multiple responsibilities, and the influence of other mothers or fashion icons who inspire us.
Additionally, as children grow up and become more independent, mothers may find themselves with more time and energy to focus on their own style choices.
6. Tell us about your label. What does it mean?
Meaning: It's my given name and it is also a flower. I went with Heather because the heather flower’s meaning goes as far back as Celtic and pre-Celtic times. But, it has always had a few straightforward meanings including:
But in the Victorian meanings:
-Purple equals beauty or worthy of admiration
-White equals luck/protection or fulfillment of a dream 7. What is the name of your collection and what is the story behind it?
Collection Name: Lase (Coral)
I chose Lase because it's becoming extinct, they are dying out due to climate change and so I want to showcase that through my collection. My color palettes reflect the vibrancy of the coral to the end stages of its life because of the rise in temperature in our sea.
The different stages of a coral's life vary from it being so healthy and colorful to just a bleached color which means it's either dead or in its final stages which we see in our coral reefs today.
I chose the corals because my sister and daughter are just so fascinated about the corals and the major role that they play. I would really love to see the underwater world myself but due to medical reasons I can't so I always look forward to my sister's underwater videos and photos and stories. Just hearing her excitement and different experiences in her dive in different locations is the closest I can get to seeing and experiencing it.
I’m glad that my sister documents her dives so we can show my daughter what the reef looks like.
Also I chose Lase because the native Americans believe that the coral is a symbol of protection and it teaches us the importance of family and community. It also reminds us to enjoy life and have fun.
The coral is also a powerful symbol of strength, courage, and determination. It helps us to overcome challenges and obstacles in our lives. The coral is also a reminder to stay positive and never give up on our dreams. The coral is also associated with the element of water. It is said to represent emotions and feelings. The coral is also a symbol of fertility and abundance.
8. You are into week 11 now of the mentorship program, tell us 3 key things you've learnt and how do you think that has shaped your collection?
3 key things...
1. Is to know my target market.
So for me, working at the boutique I have seen how most plus size people struggle to find any ready made garments for them and I have seen that majority of the plus size people actually come to the boutique and only to walk out empty handed because they cant find any ready made pieces like how most of the small sizes have no trouble finding.
Unless they place a custom order but it will take days for the production and most of them don’t have the time to wait around for that.
2. The style and practicality of the outfits.
Making sure that the clothes I make are very comfortable and it suits their everyday style. I can make an outfit where it can be worn during the day and also at night. All they have to do is accessorize it in a way that it fits the event that they are going to.
3. Collection must have a story, a flow to it.
Making sure that you are telling a story to your customers through your pieces and having them relate and connect to it as well.
9. Where do you see your fashion label/journey in 3 years time?
Hopefully outsourcing some of my ready made pieces to the resorts boutiques and overseas and also doing swimwear for our pacific women.
10. Name your local and international fashion designer that influences you and why?
Local: Samson Lee Fiji, because I have seen and worked with him to actually see how he would plan and execute his next line just as how he had visioned it and it's always on point. His pieces are so simple yet elegant and it suits our type of climate and pacific vibe and not forgetting his marketing techniques as well.
International: Michael Kors, because his success in fashion design stems from the fact that his designs were basically simple and well-tailored clothing designs, but also, Michael Kors is very well known for his charm and his winning sales techniques. My favorite so far is his spring collection for this year.
The Wearing Fiji Project fashion show is on the 7th of October at the HFC Stadium and tickets are on sale at Ticketmaxfiji.com