ROSHNI Devi’s life story is a tale of how humility, passion, and hard work can reap rewards for those prepared to go the distance. In her more than 18 years as a tailor, Mrs Devi’s journey has not been as glamorous and colourful as the outfits she puts together.
Just like the pieces of a garment under construction that sometimes do not fit together, she has hit road bumps and humps along the way.
However, by staying the path, Mrs Devi said she had seen her hard work being translated into a comfortable life for her family. The long tiring hours of detailed intricate sewing has enabled Mrs Devi to transform her family’s life from poverty to what she described as “an improved standard of living”.
While many tailors today are the result of extensive training and a background in the sewing industry, her story is very different. “I only reached class eight, after that I helped my parents on our farm and dropped out of school.”
She said after she got married, she had to look for other career options as farming was not a viable option for her and her new family. With little knowledge of sewing Mrs Devi joined a garment factory and with passion and a fierce determination to learn, she slowly but steadily learnt the art of being a tailor.
Fast-forward 18 years, she is now one of the most trusted tailors at the Suva Flea Market with a wealth of experience and the ability to meet the needs of customers even on short notice.
Ms Devi said with all the experience she has garnered over the years, she can sew a sulujaba in under an hour while a shirt would take her about 30 minutes. The self-made woman said working at the garment factory was a good learning ground but constantly being under the watch of supervisors was stressful. She said running her flea market business was the best because she did not had to answer to anyone.
“There’s nothing like being your own boss, not only do I manage things by myself, but I also take home more money compared to when I was working for someone else.”
While there were many benefits to being an entrepreneur, Mrs Devi said it wasn’t without its share of challenges. She said the responsibility of owning a business could sometimes be stressful. However, she said her secret “is to take every day as it comes” and not overthink nor stress about the next day as “tomorrow’s problems are for tomorrow”.
She said during busy periods she would had to work overtime and take her work home so that she could finish all her orders on time and ensure all her customers were satisfied.
“It’s all about planning and priorities, I try and do everything I can to meet my customers expectations because that is a good reflection on me.
“I have to do their orders well, on time and ensure it is not too expensive in order to keep my customers happy and coming back.”
When asked what was the secret to balancing her business and family life, she simply said, “I do it because I can”. She admitted there were days she wanted to throw in the towel and give up, but when that happened, she would immediately think of the impact on her family.
“If I give up then we might have to go back to the way things were – and it was not good. “Right now I am able to meet my family’s needs and wants and that makes me and everyone else happy.”
Mrs Devi said women played a very important role in their family, community and society as a whole. She said they were responsible for ensuring many significant life events – from having a family, hosting gatherings, to birthing and nurturing a child and managing a household – and every woman should be proud of their contribution to Fiji.
When asked if she looked up to anyone for inspiration and motivation she replied with a smile “me, myself”.
Mrs Devi said there were endless opportunities for men and women to succeed in life and all it took was hard work and sacrifice to achieve success.