It was my childhood dream to create my own label and call it “Kanumez”, a name inspired by my sister and also comes from her namesake, Ana Kanume. However, a career in the creative industry was never on the books for me. My father was my biggest inspiration in life and I always wanted to grow up and be just like him. So I "tried" to follow in his footsteps of becoming an engineer and specializing in his field - Telecommunication.
We moved to NZ from Fiji in 2006 where I continued my studies in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at AUT. I worked a part time job in IT while studying to help make ends meet for my family, so after graduating in 2009, I continued to further my career in IT and started working in different roles with different companies over the years. Things seemed great at the time until one day, I thought there must be more to life than just working my 9 to 5. My dad suggested that my husband and I attend a free business course run by Pacific Business Trust. It was there that the idea of running my own business sparked again and my love for fashion was re-ignited. I didn't know what to specialize in, I just knew I wanted to do something different and unique, something that had never been done before, so I started to pray about it.
My prayer was answered through a movie I had watched. An idea came to mind when I saw "Xena Warrior Princess". In the movie, she wears a gladiator type dress where the panels of her dress resemble our Tongan waist garment, also known as the "kiekie". I thought how awesome it would be to modernize our own traditional kiekies by making it with modern materials and changing the game. With no formal training except a community sewing class, online research and endless YouTube videos, I began experimenting with fabrics and embellishments in my spare time.
Two years later, I knew it was time to do something about my dream when my family and I had encountered a difficult situation. Despite the struggle, I knew it was an opportunity (rather than a problem) that God had placed in my life to start Kanumez. All we had were a few kiekie samples, an iPhone and a few willing family members and friends to model them. We launched Kanumez with our very first promotional video in October 2016 on Facebook and the rest was history.
Over the years, we have continued expanding our range, held our own fashion show as well as showcased in Pacific Runway (Australia). Our kiekies have been worn by celebrities such as Dinah Jane and actress Luciane Buchanan, as well as Tongan Royalty, movie producers, singers and news reporters. We have also been featured on numerous media platforms, news outlets and magazines as well as TV shows such as Fresh and Pacific Music Awards.
In 2019, after decorating many family events including my grandmother's 90th and my son’s 1st birthday, we added event styling and decor to our services. From hens nights and wedding celebrations to birthdays and graduation events, we have styled small to large events and have enjoyed bringing a special Kanumez touch to each one.
Kanumez is a small family owned business run by my mother, my sister and I. Our mission is simple – to do our best with the gifts we have for God's glory. We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for Him.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. We hope you find inspiration to follow your own dreams too!
Ofa moe lotu,