How I Changed My LIFE


mailife - - Fashion - By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos IVA ROKOVESA

DRUGS, al­co­hol and such things as­so­ci­ated with teenage delin­quency were once part of Crys­tal Soqeta’s life. Then came low self-es­teem and de­pres­sion. But this new Maori fash­ion de­signer was able to pick her­self up and turn her life around. The 34 year old told her story in a me­dia con­fer­ence for Fiji Fash­ion Week. “I left school in fourth form be­cause of financial rea­sons. I thought I was an adult and I grew up re­ally fast. When I was 15 years old I moved out of home be­cause I wanted in­de­pen­dence, but this is when my life started to go down­hill,” Crys­tal said. “I am the el­dest in the fam­ily with three younger broth­ers and two sis­ters who looked up to me. Un­for­tu­nately I didn’t set a good ex­am­ple for them,” she said. “I was in­volved in all sorts of things – drugs, al­co­hol you name it. Seven years of my life was wasted un­til I met my hus­band when I was 22 years old,” she said. Crys­tal is mar­ried to Nemia Soqeta, a Fi­jian rugby union player from Malolo in Ya­sawa. Nemia was named in Fiji’s squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and cur­rently plays for Biar­ritz, a French pro­fes­sional rugby union. The cou­ple have three chil­dren: Mos­ese Ratu Soqeta, 8, Li­tia Ratu Soqeta, 6 and Nemia Ratu Soqeta (Ju­nior) who is three. Hav­ing a Scot­tish and Maori fa­ther Peter Mc Pher­son and a mixed blood of Ger­man, Scot­tish and Maori mother Geral­dine, Crys­tal now has her life fo­cused on every­thing Fi­jian be­cause her hus­band Nemia has been her life­line. “I am an open book and I ad­mit I didn’t like my past but I can­not change that. I am how­ever grate­ful to my hus­band for be­ing there for me when at times I was hard to live with and sup­port­ing me through my hard times,” Crys­tal said. Crys­tal suf­fers from de­pres­sion and said meet­ing her hus­band and hav­ing her chil­dren saved her life. A hands on mum, Crys­tal has lived in Ja­pan and is now in France, fol­low­ing her hus­band’s rugby ca­reer. “They have been my in­spi­ra­tion, be­cause of them I am able to deal with my prob­lems,” she said. At times be­ing a stay-at-home mum and a rugby player’s wife took its toll on Crys­tal as she didn’t like the fact that she felt use­less at home do­ing noth­ing. “I had a low self-es­teem be­cause my past kept haunt­ing me, but I have been able to leave the past be­hind and fo­cus on what is ahead.” With her hus­band’s en­cour­age­ment, pur­su­ing her dream of be­com­ing a de­signer has be­come a re­al­ity. “Ever since I was 10 years old I have al­ways been scrib­bling and sketch­ing pat­terns and de­signs. To be able to bring my de­signs to life and show them here dur­ing Fiji Fash­ion Week is truly a dream come true,” she said. Crys­tal’s col­lec­tion has pieces made from poly scuba net and neo­prene (polyester and syn­thetic rub­ber ma­te­ri­als) she bought from Italy and France and some from fab­rics she brought from the United King­dom and United States. Her

col­lec­tion fo­cuses mainly on fit­ness and health in styles that peo­ple of any shape and size can wear. Her col­lec­tion show­cased at Fiji Fash­ion Week was called Ko-ia which in Maori means ‘She is’. “It ba­si­cally means for me that I can be who­ever I want to be in life,” she said. Af­ter show­ing her de­signs in Fiji, Crys­tal said she will try to break into the fash­ion scene at home and hopes to en­ter the New Zealand Fash­ion Week. Crys­tal loves the street and hip style of fash­ion and it ap­pealed to her be­cause at one stage in her life her at­tire evolved around that style. “Look­ing back to those days, I can hon­estly say I wasn’t happy with the way I looked or dressed be­cause it de­picted the sort of life­style I was into at the time.” Her favourite de­signer is T.Mu­gler from Paris in France as Crys­tal finds her de­signs ap­peal­ing. Dur­ing Fiji Fash­ion Week, Crys­tal had her eyes glued to Rachael Fair­fax col­lec­tion and was blown away by it. “I must say I re­ally loved Rachel Fair­fax col­lec­tion dur­ing the show. She is a great de­signer.” But Crys­tal reck­ons she is no la­bel basher as she is some­one who tends to like what­ever that meets her eyes. “I am one per­son who tends to like what I see,” she said. It is amaz­ing how Crys­tal has come in leaps and bounds to main­tain a sense of calm with every­thing she has gone through in life and en­sur­ing show­cas­ing her col­lec­tion on the Fiji Fash­ion run­away was a suc­cess. “It took a lot of faith and courage to be able to de­sign and come up with my col­lec­tion and again I have my hus­band to thank for it – I am in­debted to him to how far how I have come and achiev­ing my dreams.” Crys­tal didn’t lack any sup­port dur­ing the Fiji Fash­ion Week. She had her en­tourage – her hus­band and three chil­dren from France, her younger sis­ter Sha­nia Blaze whom she has not seen for the past five years and her par­ents who trav­elled all the way from NZ to see her de­but at Fiji Fash­ion Week. Look­ing back on her life’s jour­ney so far, Crys­tal said she felt she had come a long way. “I made a lot of mis­takes along the way but am glad I got up and kept try­ing.”

Crys­tal with hus­band Nemia Soqeta and their chil­dren

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