Fiji’s Spice Queens

mailife - - Contents - By MELA KATONIVUALIKU

FOR child­hood friends Francesca Brice and Lin­ley Ram­say, fall­ing in love with Fiji has led them to es­tab­lish a busi­ness as Fiji’s only cer­ti­fied cru­elty-free skin­care pro­duc­tion com­pany. They fell in love with Fiji be­cause vi­sions from their child­hood while grow­ing up a block away from each other in a small town near Welling­ton were so sim­i­lar to what they see in Fiji vil­lages. “We both grew up bare­foot in sum­mer, swim­ming at the beach, climb­ing trees and lov­ing to ride horses when our par­ents weren’t look­ing,” Brice said. Brice is 60 years old, ten days older than Lin­ley, but they well re­mem­ber their lives as youngsters. “Look­ing back, it was a pretty idyl­lic child­hood and I re­mem­ber it es­pe­cially when I drive through a vil­lage in Fiji and see chil­dren laugh­ing, kick­ing a ball and hav­ing pure and sim­ple fun. That was us!” “I wanted to be in­volved in Fiji, to have a rea­son to spend more time and con­nect with the life and cul­ture here.“I am nat­u­rally an en­tre­pre­neur and a trav­eler at heart so when a friend here en­cour­aged me to think about cre­at­ing Body­care as a com­pli­ment to the per­fumes I was (and still am) mak­ing at the time, I felt a light­bulb switch on.“I set about look­ing for a part­ner who would share the en­thu­si­asm. I didn’t have to look far. I asked Lin­ley and she im­me­di­ately said yes – we are both very spon­ta­neous as you may gather.” The com­pany name, Fiji Spice Queen, was sug­gested to them by an ed­i­tor friend. “I couldn’t think of the el­e­ments to use so I kept the name on hold as I re­ally loved it. Then when the idea came for the Skin­care range there was no ques­tion – this name was per­fect

and the leg­end of the Fiji Spice Queen (FSQ) was born.” Ram­say ex­plains that FSQ is de­rived from a fic­tional queen with its own leg­end. “The leg­end has it that cen­turies ago FSQ’s an­ces­tors jour­neyed the oceans seek­ing their wildest dreams. Nav­i­gat­ing reck­less worlds, her great­est grand­mother held fast to one sa­cred urn. Upon dis­cov­er­ing the trop­i­cal is­lands of Fiji, the rit­u­als of the FSQ evolved. A re­ju­ve­nat­ing fu­sion be­tween Fiji’s na­ture and the an­cient plants and spices so cher­ished within her great­est grand­mother’s urn.” The busi­ness pair said their busi­ness is grow­ing ev­ery month: “We al­ways ex­pected it to grow and we al­ways an­tic­i­pate suc­cess – we knew there was a space for our ideas and style.” “In all truth, it is fan­tas­tic when we have re­peat or­ders from our in­ter­net cus­tomers – that’s a real in­di­ca­tion that it is work­ing. Our cus­tomers are af­ter all what mo­ti­vate and in­spires us and when they are happy, we are happy.” Growth in their busi­ness has met with its fair share of chal­lenges. “Cy­clone Win­ston was a big­gie as it was for all in Fiji. Our raw in­gre­di­ents were in short sup­ply and we re­ally had to scram­ble, but we have made it through. Op­er­at­ing sys­tems in Fiji can be a bit slow due to in­fra­struc­ture but we know th­ese things will change in time,” Brice said. The two live in New Zealand but travel to Fiji ev­ery month to over­see op­er­a­tions at their Lautoka fac­tory and say there are times when they must “put on our think­ing caps quickly”. Over­com­ing chal­lenges Francesca and Lin­ley have had to put on their think­ing caps quickly. “For­tu­nately, we are both quick thinkers and have learnt to be re­silient as well, and that helps. Pos­i­tive think­ing is an­other way to deal with what might seem in­sur­mount­able dif­fi­cul­ties as we be­lieve ev­ery­thing is achiev­able with fo­cus and good strate­gic plan­ning. We also be­lieve in sur­round­ing our­selves with great peo­ple.”. FSQ range in­cludes Fi­jian made hy­drat­ing body and hair oils, body lo­tions, fair trade raw sugar scrubs and co­conut based soaps. Or­ganic co­conut oil, re­gen­er­at­ing wild­crafted dilo oil, noni juice, moringa, av­o­cado and macadamia nut oils, are the care­fully se­lected nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents. Cer­ti­fied cru­elty free, ve­gan and eco wise, FSQ draws her in­spi­ra­tion from the bounty of Fiji and her nat­u­ral heal­ing won­ders, Brice and Ram­say said. Ten years from now they hope to be a global brand with strong so­cial en­ter­prise projects as an in­te­gral part of what they are. The pair are pas­sion­ate about the en­vi­ron­ment in Fiji and feel con­cern for the fu­ture of the frag­ile marine en­vi­ron­ment, and would like to sup­port more ini­tia­tives in this area. What to do about plas­tic? How to col­lab­o­rate with projects in th­ese fields? They are also pas­sion­ate about gen­der equal­ity and women’s is­sues and they would like to make Fiji feel very proud of her Spice Queen.

Child­hood friends - Lin­ley Ram­say an Francesca Brice.

Fiji Spice Queen prod­ucts.

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