Hey there, I am Sharon and I’m Umi and welcome to the Round Table. This is a space dedicated to the women of the pacific who are trying to figure out life just like we are and we are going to ask questions that you’ve always wanted to ask to a new guest every episode and lift the vail on unspoken topics. We talk about everything from personal image and relationship to everything in between. Come and join us. Ale yumi Storian. This project is made possible with the support of We Rise Coalition and PACMAS.
On this episode of the Round Table we will be focussing on the journey of a female anderoponote base here in Port Vila. We will also be discussing the different kinds of products that she produces from seaweed and getting some insight on how she runs her business. Also we’ll be touching on how she puts her passion into the work that she does. So her name is Alice Arthy and she is from North Efate and is a self made business woman who figures out how to make seaweed oil by using natural organic products. She will be joining us to share all about her experiences and enlighten us on her journey about how it all started. Thank you so much for joining us Alice.
So Alice I know that most people did not address you by your first name but they do know you as the seaweed lady. Why do they call you the seaweed lady?
So I learn about 110 Metabola medicinal sea plants in the Pacific. So once I found out that the sea vegetables have this medicinal benefits in them. I was like woah this is a great opportunity to did something out of them.
So you became the seaweed lady. The lady who made everything from seaweed. So when did you decide that you wanted to start your own business or like to have your own business?
When I was a little girl by the age of 8, I heard a professor saying during the independence celebration that independence means self-reliance. I was thinking to myself that that’s me. In the future I will do something for myself instead of somebody being my boss. I want to be my own boss. So after 3 years like 1998, 1999 to 2000 after I did the seaweed research I decided to do my own business. But I’ve been working in many non-government organisations contacting workshops with women, communities but then I decided that’s it, I have to do my own business and then I started in 2001 until today.
Umi – How nspire are you.
What was your mentality like when you first started your business?
It was like a big go.
Was it scary?
It was interesting and challenging but to say like well it’s like going in a race. I just have to go no matter what. I just have to take it.
Umi – Keep going, Just keep going.
Can you share with us an experience that you feel has helped your business grow. Something that happens that pushes your business.
It’s a big thing that I see uhm help me push my business is my children’s dad left and it is a big challenge. But I just cannot depend on him like I have to move.
Umi – I guess becoming a single parent pushes you to grow your business.
From back then until today what motivates you to keep on going like every day. What keeps you pushing for your business. What keeps you going?
When I give my product to some people that like it, like a patient that they send them out from the hospital and they come back with the result that they were healed, that really motivates me like wow and it pushes me to continue to.
Umi – So you know it motivates you seeing your product to actually doing something for people.
Umi – That’s really nice. I actually used your seaweed oil. I love it, oh my god it is wonderful. You have like Melanesian or Polynesian hair thick hair that this oil does wonders on it.
Sharon – I have also used the product as well and I have seen a lot of good changes with my hair. Like when I wake up in the morning and my hair goes really dry but then I use it after taking my shower. It just keeps the moisture there and it makes it look nice and curls.
So moving on, what is one of the biggest challenges that you face over the years with your business and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge that I really face is transport. Sometimes I wait to put my orders in and I don’t have the transport. Then it delays my orders. I also found out that if I have a truck I need to drive myself because I have my own truck and then somebody drives my truck and does not use it the way I want. I found out that if you have a business it’s good to drive but you have to drive your own truck.
Umi – Uh so you were talking about transportation and even if you have a driver then don’t. You know you need a reliable driver.
Sharon – To stay consistent with time and like management and all of that.
Um – That’s something I notice about a lot of people who are making products and selling it but it’s the delivery part that they struggle with.
So I wanna ask like why did you choose seaweed oil as a product for hair and skin and like what kind of seaweed?
Oh, there’s a lot of seaweed and the one that is good for the hair is called hydro clarktise because it has a lot of gel. When I boil that it comes out itself and produces its gel. And there’s another one called equina. That’s the two seaweed that I used for gel. Oil is another seaweed.
Umi – So there’s many different kinds and you used one for each product.
Do you only use three different types of seaweed or do you use other types of seaweed to produce your product?
I use other types of seaweed because I not only made two products but the seaweed cleansing Tonic I used a sea plant called Classaleria and the energy tonic the sea plant that I use is called Cassyum and tupurneria. So I use different sea plants. They have their own benefits. So I used different seaweed from different products.
Umi – That’s really interesting.
What are the health benefits of seaweed?
The interesting health benefits of seaweed is very interesting because how the seaweed lives is very interesting. Seaweed they live in the sea but it’s interesting because they live on the soil even though they live in the sea but they feed on soil. So when the rain or the river wash the soil into the sea the sea vegetables eat the soil. So all the vitamins and minerals you can think of they can all be in seaweed. So if there is some soil that is dirty or it’s not or maybe poison when it goes down to the sea the salt sterilises that. It kills all the rabbis in the soil before the seaweed eats.
Umi & Sharon – It is very interesting.
All the vitamins and the mineral, like we say the vitamin and mineral but if we break them down into iron and iodine all these that are in the soil they are all in the seaweed because seaweed feeds on the soil.
Umi – oh this is new information for me.
Sharon – This is how you know it’s actually benefiting you.
Umi – And this is how you know she knows her stuff. This is the original seaweed lady.
Sharon – Okay interesting.
So what other kinds of product do you make using seaweed, like I know you do the gel and the oil and the tonic all that. Is there any other product that you make like using seaweed? Can you list all the products that you made using seaweed?
I do cleansing tonic.
And what’s that?
It cleanse the system in our body. It does treatment to our body. I t cleanse the body and then it maintain any infection in kidney, livre whatever. It maintain that and then it maintains our white cells the soldier of the body they multiply and alert. When any disease comes to attack you your body fight back. So that’s cleansing Tonic. Energy Tonic its the one that got a lot of iodine. Now when people lacks iodine that’s when they have diorrie swollen breast. That’s when people lack iodine but with energy tonic when drink that it goes to the blood it prevents people not to have swollen breast. You know because the bloods get that. +
Sharon – This is very interesting.
Umi – I have heard of something interesting for so long.
And oil the seaweed oil it’s good for the skin, it’s good for after shave. You know after people shave, they put it on.
Umi – Natural after shave.
It is good for skin rashes and any skin diseases like ringworm and white spot.
oh does it work on white spots?
Umi – Interesting.
Because it’s salty and it has lemon inside of it.
Umi – That’s really interesting because I know so many people who got white spots and they buy medicine from the Pharmacy and they use it and it never goes away. I’ll be sure to recommend this to them now.
Sharon – Definitely
The seaweed oil, sometimes a lot of people stress but after you shower and put this on you just feel like you don’t want to know about anybody. You feel so happy about yourself. Cause you know when people stress, that’s when they have high blood pressure. But when you feel good about yourself, then that’s healing.
Umi – So it prevents things like migrants and headaches and stuff.
It helps make your hair grow and shine.
Sharon – Oh yes, I can definitely say something about that. I’ve seen my hair grow for a few weeks just using seaweed oil and I would definitely like to recommend it to anyone who is trying to grow their hair. I am talking about Melanesian type hair. If you do wanna grow it out please use the seaweed oil it does wonders.
So who are these products for? All the products that you made, who is it for and how do you find your clients? How did you advertise or promote your products? Or is it just word of mouth?
No, there’s a lot of mouths.
Umi & Sharon – That’s how it’s done here in Vanuatu especially in the Pacific.
I think one of the pacific ways is word of mouth. Sometimes people from Radio Vanuatu invite me to interview for the mama solwota and that’s how a lot of people here heard about that and they do their orders. One of the products I am making is seaweed salad and I always have a lot of orders on that like yeah and because it is very healthy and also seaweed Asah, cooking seaweed with vegetables and chilly. A lot of people love it because it’s good for the heart. You know when sometimes people feel very weak, you need to eat something a little bit chilly because it wakes up the heart.
Sharon – Well I know Umi loves chilly stuff. So she’s probably going to love that.
Umi – Most likely I will.
I most important thing that I found in seaweed is you cannot waste anything In seaweed because after I boil the seaweed like I extract that and the waste ones I fill it up in bags and I mixed them up with some kitchen stuff and I do compost so anything wasted they are always everything to be used.
Umi – Its kind of like Coconut like you know coconut tree you can use every part of it for something. Very very interesting.
Is there any more that you do other than that?
I also do body scrub. After I cook the seaweed oil the lemon that left in the pot. The lemon and the sea weed and then I pack it in to container for 500 it depends on how big is the container. And people come and buy that. Before you have your shower you have to use it like body scrub. You scrub your body with that, and then you stay for about half an hour then you can have a cool shower.
Okay so what are the benefits of using body Scrap?
It makes your skin smooth and prevents you from any skin disease like ringworm or white spot.
Umi – I knew you did all that but I did not know about the scrap. I want to try.
Sharon – I don’t see a lot of locals producing scraps and stuff like that especially from seaweed.
Umi – I know they use sugar and honey and all those things but I never heard one from seaweed that is very interesting.
With the seaweed one I think it’s more natural and organic. Maybe sometimes I’m gonna pass by and drop one container.
Umi – oh my god we will definitely love to try.
With your product do you make them yourself like all the manual labour. The boiling of it and getting it, so you do it yourself or do you have some help?
I trained my children to be in this business and my big daughter is on her way. Now she has her own family and she has her own business. And my son is with me and the other daughter and they help me.
Oh okay and you did this all at your house?
Yeah they help me but like every fortnight I paid them like they have been employed.
Umi – So it’s like a little family business. That’s nice.
Sharon – It’s a good thing that you teach your children how to do it so they can see you know the struggle and effort you put into a product like.
Umi – But it is also like passing on valuable knowledge. Like for me growing up here Alice, I have never heard of anything being done with seaweed until I met you. It’s so interesting to me. I am so passionate about it, I wanna go read about it.
Yeah, something that I am very proud of myself because I think what’s really made me my dream is because I was saying one day I wanna be self-reliant. I want to be self-reliance and teach my kids to be self-reliance and I also contacted workshops that teach other young people to be self-reliance. I also contacted workshops that teach other young people to be self-reliance in some other skills. Because with the seaweed like I registered it as my family business. So I register it as Vanuatu ocean product and I don’t teach this to others but I teach other things like youths to do their own business like sewing, weaving, cooking.
Umi – That’s really good, like we need more antropinos in Vanuatu because there’s so much, honestly like hearing now about this, so much you can do here. There’s so much, you just have to go for it you have to find out like you know what can I do? Men this is really inspiring. For those who are listening so sorry we did not mention her product, Alice’s label is Vanuatu Ocean product. We will let you know where on facebook you can find Alice later on in this episode.
Sharon – Okay so I wanted to add on what Umi has mentioned about having more entrepreneurs here. I think having a person like you lets say like a role model or you know somebody like we can learn from somebody who’s actually gone through this experience. I feel like especially for young people like we should like to open up to these things. Go to workshops you know or learn how to be a self-reliance person you know. And especially with local products. In Vanuatu we have a lot of natural resources that we can use , so I think it’s encouraging or maybe something you know uplift lots of young people to be self-reliance.
So yeah Alice what advice would you give to a young woman that is currently starting up a business or thinking about starting.
I would advise that person to be strong and just start off with whatever that she has or he has. Once that person starts off then that’s the step that will lead you. For example if a woman says oh maybe I just started to sew, I’m scared and very shy to go and sell my clothes that I sew. Then that’s bad if she feels like she cannot do it but once she starts by taking the dress and giving it to somebody and saying okay wear this dress and advertise it for me. And then people will see that dress and start to come and say oh wao where to get this? And then the business will just go on. That’s one way but that person has to start it somewhere.
Umi – So basically what you say is go for it.
Sharon – You’ll know it until you try eh.
And Alice what are the top three things young females entropionise should never do and what three things that they should do? Just start up a business like you said in sewing or using local natural products and what are three top things that young female entropionise should never do and what are the three things that they should do?
I think I should say before a young girl that if she doesn’t work she should really care for herself like if she doesn’t work she shouldn’t have a baby.
Could you explain that?
Today a lot of young girls know they need diapers for the baby or milk but she doesn’t have money to pay for all this. So it’s not good to have a baby when you don’t work because you need to support the baby but how are you gonna support the baby? You don’t work, she doesn’t work.
What I see in societies today like women put more effort on the baby than their day. That’s what I see in the community. It doesn’t means that I say something that its gonna hurt the youngfalas but I think that’s the reality because it’s good you have to make one small business so that when you have a baby its gonna support you to look after the baby because the baby that you gonna look after is gonna be somebody in the future. So that’s how I see that no women just aren’t gonna have babies like that and they took it to somebody to look after. You know they cannot support the baby because they don’t work. What I think the young girls should do is they should attend a lot of training like vocational training to learn different skills to build them so they can start their own business. So they just don’t have to think about themselves but they have to say like oh yeah I can do it I can go about it and be strong and just move on. Another thing is I think the women should not think that oh I cannot do it, I can’t do that you know.
Sharon – I don’t think this will work. I’m not confident enough.
Umi – Sometimes they also feel like the pressure is too hard for them. So they just wanna run away from it.
We all go through challenges in life. Sometimes the separation between the parents really affects the children. Young people, that’s the challenge we’ll get. Take the challenge and say well that’s them I can make it better. I can do something different and move on. Once you take the challenge and move with it, oh you will be somewhere. You will be very popular with your business and I tell you I have been through that and I know that once you go through the challenge you will always be somebody in the future.
Umi & Sharon – That doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
oh that’s so inspiring Alice. So just before we close it up we would just want to ask you like for our listeners obviously we can just contact you but for our listeners who would be interested in buying your product, where can they get it or how can they contact you?
We have a table down at the handicrafts down at the seawall. My daughter is staying there, she is selling all the products and I just do the delivery. So people can just contact me on the phone and then I just go and do the delivery.
So you do the delivery as well?
Awesome, great! So just before we close all this up, please guys check us out on facebook, Instagram and Tiktok at Sista Vanuatu as well as on our website Sista.com.vu. Also by following our website you can listen to more of the Round Table Podcasts that are already there including the upcoming episode. This is Sharon and I’m Umi from the Round Table ALE lukim yu!