People | With Fiji at heart

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Designer Tracey Ann Farrington with her awards at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Saturday night. Picture: ATU RASEA

For as long as Tracey Ann Farrington can remember, fashion has been her calling.

She lives it, eats it, breathes it – her words – and you can gauge her love for fashion when she speaks.

Her effervescent personality shines through.

But it hasn’t all been a cakewalk for Ms Farrington.

She was one of the many business owners who was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite all the adversities, she managed to survive the pandemic, emerging from the hardships with a newfound vision and passion for her work.

Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed, but she didn’t think much of her rebranding and entrepreneurial prowess and carried on with her work.

Imagine her surprise when she walked away with five awards at the recent National Fashion Awards.

It certainly was a night to remember for the designer, who started off in Bondi, Australia, and now deems herself a proud Votualevu resident.

“Here’s the truth, I left school when I was very young,” she said.

“I wasn’t so incredibly scholastic. And so, my mum said to me, okay, you’re really good at designing.

“Let’s take you out of school and put you into fashion design school, which is what she did.

“So, I went to the School of Fashion in Sydney. I studied for three years, full time every day. And I learned how to patent make hats, construct garments, all sorts of fashion aspects.”

Once she had the basics pegged down, she began to travel, and her journeys took her to Spain, where she lived for three years.

She returned to Australia in the 1980s and started her first business at 22.

“I’ve actually never ever been employed by anybody.

“I always run my own businesses. And so, I manufactured in Australia, and my company grew.

“It was the Bondi beach bag company, and in 1997, Australia changed the import duties, so we needed to go offshore and manufacture.

“My factory was closed and I went into liquidation, along with many other Australian companies because we couldn’t compete against cheap Chinese imports.

“As much as we tried to promote Australian made, it didn’t work.”

These challenges helped to shape and help her choose the next step in her life.

She chose Fiji.

COVID, she said, was a big life changer for everybody.

And at a time when so many people were out of work, they started a new initiative known as VotCity Market, where those unemployed could come together and sell their wares.

“After COVID, we started to carve our niche again as tourism opened. And so obviously fashion is my passion. I live for it. I eat it. I breathe it. It’s my every day.

“My business started from zero at the COVID turning time, and I’ve gotten some the most beautiful people work with me.

“I’m so humbled and grateful to my team.

“I’d like to recognise them as part of the growth.

“Everything that we do and all of these awards that we’ve received tonight, I dedicate to my team because it’s not a solo band and I’m so grateful for them.”

Now that Fiji is her home, Ms Farrington said she had exciting plans coming up.

She now plans to open a boutique at Plantation Island Resort, which would be called Beach Shack by Tracey Ann Farrington.

She said this would open soon and they were extremely proud of this new chapter.

“We’ve called it Beach Shack because it’s a bit diverse, away from the Tracey Ann Farrington core brand, which is exclusive resort wear, high end luxury brand.

“We understand the demographic of Plantation and so this is a business opportunity, so here I am designing and creating specific products for the demographic of Plantation Island and understanding that it is a family resort.

“It is a three to four star resort and we need to plan the product according to the demographic of those clients.

“It’s a really ch

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