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Fiji’s Spice Queens

- 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.
Childhood friends - Linley Ramsay an Francesca Brice.
 ??  ?? Fiji Spice Queen products.
Fiji Spice Queen products.

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