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Lesson in Her Tests


Rachel stresses a point during a CEFE (Competency based Economy through Formation of Entrepreneurship) training conducted by NCSMED



Everyone knows those inspirational posters that you see in doctor's offices, schools and libraries encouraging you to be curious, to challenge yourself to do better and achieve greater things in life. There are so many aspects that constitute education and remarkably, studies have revealed that 80 per cent of learning is informal, outside of the classroom. This means curiosity, passion and self-education are key to determining a person's education and lifelong success.

This statement is true for entrepreneur Rachel Beryl Temo who established her embroidery business merely by watching her late grandmother master the art of making patchwork bedspread along with its matching pillow casings.

The beginning...

"Growing up with my grandmother is something I regard as a blessing because I learnt more from her than I did through school. She was my mentor who taught me that anything is possible if you're passionate and willing to learn through self- education and self-reliance," said Rachel.

"Living with my grandmother was thought-provoking and as an inquisitive little girl, I wanted to know what she knew and I quickly grasped her embroidery skills just by watching her work. It truly was fascinating but at the same time educational for me. I have no special talents but I am only passionately curious."

According to the soft-spoken mother of three, her grandmother learnt the skill from wives of missionary who had back in the days taught local women to master the art of embroidery.

"We iTaukei have our mats and masi, while the Europeans have their quilt and custom-made cushion and pillow cases which are often used as gifts for auspicious occasions like weddings. Upon seeing these decorative custom made patchworks, the local women were enthralled and were curious to know how it was done. The missionary wives thereafter conducted lessons for the women, my grandmother being one of them," Rachel said proudly.

Hereafter, a young and curious Rachel would stay up for hours studying her grandmother do her handiwork. Being a fast learner, Rachel amazingly mastered it to perfection.

The struggle is real...

The Lakeba lady had dropped out of high school without any definite plan for her career. After two failed marriages Rachel was determined to make use of the skill she'd learnt from her grandmother for her family's livelihood.

"After divorcing my first husband, I had to struggle to provide for my children and grandkids. I started to look for avenues to help me provide for my kids' needs and wants and basically to make ends meet. I was however adamant that things were going to be better and there was something better at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Reminiscing on grandma's work had triggered a light bulb in my head," said Rachel.

That ray of hope manifested in what is now Eretulai's Embroidery.

A business is born...

With high hopes of building a better future, Rachel decided to make use of what she had learnt from her grandmother.

"I started my business solely on funds I collected from selling lovo packs and homemade bean with tamarind. Through this I was able to start Eretulai's Embroidery."

Eretulai's Embroidery has been in operation for around 15 years now specialising in screen printing on beachwear accessorised with its matching footwear, embellished quilts or lacadrau are available in different sizes, cushion and pillow covers, as well as buffet runners.

"I did a survey and found out that just a handful of iTaukei women still practise lacadrau and patchwork embroidery. I know what an underprivileged woman's life could be and I was adamant to make a difference in someone else's life.

"What little self- esteem I had then motivated me to do in-depth research on appliqué patchwork as well as embroidery stitches. This of course just supplements what I had initially learnt from my grandmother."

Since Eretulai Embroidery's inception, Rachel has formed three women's club and conducts training particularly targeting underprivileged single mothers.

These classes, according to Rachel, give the women the opportunity to expand their knowledge and to be able to earn a decent living from it.

"I am trying my best to reach out to underprivileged and grassroots women to be self- motivated enabling them to boost their self- esteem and to be able to provide for their respective families.

"I am capable of self- educating myself, self- disciplined, self- motivated, loyal and honest, and I like dealing with different problems. It stimulates my intelligence. I take pride in a job well done and accomplishment is my greatest reward," said Rachel.

Eretulai's Embroidery has been a sustainable source of livelihood and income for the single mother and her family. Rachel is able to support her priority — ensuring her children had a proper education up to university level.

"Through this business I am able to send one of my sons to New Zealand while the second had enrolled at university to further his education in engineering studies. My children's future is my priority and I am able to provide for them through this business," stressed Rachel as her eyes shone with hope.

Word of the wise...

Outspoken and knowledgeable, the Nukunuku native's policy is to learn, teach and share. This is precisely what she is doing, practising what she preaches.

"Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can — there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did. A goal is not always meant to be reached but it often serves simply as something to aim at.

"Imagination is a force that can actually manifest a reality if you are determined. It often puzzles me to think about the difference between school and life. In school you're taught a lesson then given a test but in life you're given a test that teaches you a lesson. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status."

The 47-year-old said starting a business was not hard but with perseverance and determination, one could achieve greater things.

"As an entrepreneur, you can bet that each day will be filled with new opportunities to challenge yourself, be creative and learn something new. The great thing about owning a small business is I rarely experience the same day twice. That's the beauty of being an entrepreneur."

Rachel Beryl Temo is an epitome of perseverance and striving to achieve excellence, which ultimately leads to success. She's proven that education is not often the determining factor in successfully running a business. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.



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