I didn’t start this beauty shop by myself.
I started it alongside my two older sisters (Lima & Lole) on the 25th of December, 2018. We started what we do without the thought of actually making it an official business. It was only dad that worked at the time by doing construction work and in his free time, he would go to the bush and do agricultural work, which was our only income at home. Our mother is a stay-at-home mum; she does daily chores and weaves mats when she can.
My oldest sister ‘Lima’ then started working at the Chinese shop to help out with dad. Then the second oldest ‘Lole’ started doing braids, lashes, hairdos for events, etc. but it wasn’t that professional because we didn’t have the full equipment’s for our work at the time. Then one day, we saw someone here in Tonga posting beauty equipment’s that we needed for sale on the online market. That’s when we thought, ‘this is our chance’. We thought about it and how it could help our parents with paying our bills. We came up with the name ‘Victoria Leger’s Beauty’ because the eldest sister Lima, had her baby girl named Victoria and to our thought at the time, she’s the first to have a baby out of us three sisters and she was precious to us, so we dedicated our little beauty shop to her.
My sisters saw how good income we would make out of the idea of doing nails, extension lashes, hair and make-up so they had a chat about it with our parents by letting them know about the business plan of running our own little business and they agreed to it. We didn’t have any funds at the beginning of our business but we managed even though we were not so experienced in the type of work that we offered. We then decided to practice through using our nieces and nephews hairs to practice doing hairdos, even doing our mums nails for practice purposes and even us, sisters, we practised through doing extension lashes on each other for us to be more experienced with doing what we were about to offer before we opened our beauty shop. We didn’t have the option of taking courses of this as it is not available here in Tonga so this is how we learned.
Doing business at the time when my sisters were here was comfortable for me because they were always around to help out but then we started to get separated. First, the oldest 'Lima' left for Australia and she got stuck there till now due to borders being closed, then the second oldest ‘Lole’ migrated to New Zealand earlier this year to reunite with her little family. Sometimes I feel the need for someone to help out with work at home but that’s okay because I always try my best to satisfy my customers’ needs and wants alone. Also, a benefit of me working alone is that I have control over what I'm doing, but at the same time I can’t afford to employ someone else.
Also, I have experienced challenges along the way while doing business as a youth. It is when negative comments come from people, especially on social media. Every time we get these negative comments, we didn't let them get to us; we kept working and just let people talk while we do our best with what we do. Somehow here on our little island, when someone starts to do something for themselves, people will always have something negative to say.
However, my main motivation or my driving force to what I do is my parents. I do what I do because I want to help them out with the bills and other small expenses at home. Doing business is good money and ever since Covid-19 occurred, dads’ construction work started to hinder and mum on the other hand is not working, and doing what I do is a way for me to lend a helping hand. I am still studying at the moment but I also like to work at the same time to help cover the costs of my school fees.
Seeing customers happy and satisfied with what they need is vital for me. For instance, every time a customer requests what they want, I always try my best to meet what they require and for me that’s all that matters because without them I wouldn’t get any income.
It makes me happy to see youth nowadays starting to create their own business with the purpose of helping out at home, and they tend to be creative and innovative at the same time with what they do. I feel glad for them. I want to encourage anyone that is thinking of starting up a business that there will always be negative comments that will come towards you as an entrepreneur, and that will become one of your challenges for you to face, but don't let it get to you. Just ignore the negativity and leave it to the side and just focus upon what you are doing. If you love what you do, if that's your dream, fight for it.
One key element that I will say for a successful business is to always put in a little money to your business bank account so that when stock runs out, you have money on the side to purchase more so that you can keep going.
However, I am doing what I do today but at the same time I am studying Tourism Management at Tonga Institute of Higher Education (TIHE), and somehow I feel like the business is keeping me here in Tonga. I say this because, in the near future, I want to go for further studies. Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be a flight attendant and that’s the main reason why I’m taking tourism courses at the moment. But since the business is keeping me here in Tonga, I’ll wait till the day one of my sisters’ return back home and she can continue to run the business while I go for further studies.