“If a woman has the power to create life, she also has the power to create the life she wants.”
In this month’s Sista Gat Style, we celebrate Irene Abbock Lai at JoJo Vanuatu’s boutique at Paradise Cove. Nestled by the sea with a garden devoted to Greek goddesses, the stunning waterfront residence is an ideal place to celebrate Irene as she carries her child into the world.
“A pregnant woman is on a sacred journey. As she carries life, she is nestled between the spiritual and earthly realm and must be honored and protected.”
#DivineIrene #AelanGoddess #WorkingMama #SacredJourney
Irene Abbock Lai
28 Years Old
Where are you from?
What do you aspire to do in the future?
I yearn for a lot of things in life. Like most people, I hope and dream to earn a good living, but above all my heart is with vulnerable people who are in a difficult place. I understand what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position. If there is one thing I truly wish to accomplish, it is something that’s value that cannot be measured by money. I feel that my soul’s mission is to work with Sista and other organizations that provide support and a safe space for the most vulnerable people in our society.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What is even spare time?! Haha ! There is no spare time when you are a single mother! I have a 24-hour job as a mother and a 44-hour per week job that provides me a living. Should the universe ever grant me spare time, my mind and body hungers for sleep – that is all I could honestly ever ask for!
What do you study?
I have studied IT and Accounts at the University of the South Pacific but I never graduated as I fell pregnant with my eldest at the age of 23. I then later found myself in the working industry only to be able to financially support my children.
How would you describe your lifestyle?
My current lifestyle is now very much grounded. Like the ying and the yang, I believe I have moved passed the phase of my night partying life and I am now reconnecting to nurturing my body, mind and soul through self-healing and meditation and maybe enjoy a shell of kava when I wish to socialize with people.
Where do you buy your clothes from?
After having kids, it has been a while since I last shopped for myself really. Every now and then I like to share and exchange clothes with my family and friends. However for special occasions such as this SGS maternity shoot, which I am grateful and honored to be featured in, I have my dresses custom made by Anna Issachar and painted by dearest father Mathew Abbock. I am also wearing a unique, one of a kind dress by JoJo Vanuatu.
Who influences your style?
As I have grown from a teenager to a woman, I have been inspired by powerful women in media and in my personal life that have influenced my style. It’s a mix of cultural pieces and western clothing.
What beauty products do you use?
I use alot of Fiji coconut oil for my skin and if I am feeling fancy, I will wear mascara. I can admit I have no idea on how to apply a full facial makeup but I am blessed to have a dear friend, JHA, who is an amazing talented makeup artist that dolls me up every now and then.
Any fashion advice?
Like time – fashion waits for no one! You either blend in with the trend or you don’t. But one thing I can personally guarantee that does not change is the colour we choose to wear each and every day – colour can represent our mood, our significance and our dignity! Your colour preference is your fashion keeper, love yourself and radiate your existence in this uniform world!
Hair and makeup by JHA
Clothing by Anna Issachar, JoJo Vanuatu and Mathew Abbock
Henna belly by Aroma Essence
Photography by Starlight Photography
JoJo Vanuatu Fashion Label
The JoJo Vanuatu Fashion Label was launched in 2008. The owner JoJo is a citizen of Vanuatu and studied Design and Couture Techniques in Paris. Over the past decade, JoJo has taught silk dyeing techniques to international Fashion Design students in Paris and promoted Vanuatu abroad through her Vanuatu inspired fashion collections that have been available in St Tropez and the Greek Island of Mykonos.
Some of the highlights that JoJo has enjoyed over the past 10 years from being part of the Fashion industry include meeting repeat visitors to Vanuatu who have returned to purchase unique, one of a kind fashion, being able to tell people about Vanuatu through her collections in Mykonos and France and working backstage at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion week dressing models for Designers Georges Hobeika and Elie Saab.
“I’m very fortunate to call Vanuatu my home, and I am inspired every day by the people and landscape of this country. I convey that inspiration though the colours I create on hand dyed silk, which are based on the Vanuatu landscape, and portray the colours of the coral reef, jungle and volcanoes. I’m very interested in colour therapy which is how the vibration of different colours can affect our health and wellbeing.” said JoJo.
Prior to living in Vanuatu and studying design, JoJo was a TAFE College Principal, University lecturer and Director of Education at a large Sydney Teaching Hospital. Apart from Fashion, JoJo devotes a lot of time to her other passion which is assisting Vanuatu children from outer islands who are born with a cleft palate or club foot.
The studio and boutique is currently located at Paradise Cove with plans to relocate closer to town soon.
“I am enthusiastic about the future for Vanuatu. I think that relocating to a larger business premises will create new opportunities for growth, development and diversification.”
Visit the boutique at Paradise Cove (via Pango) , open on Wednesday 2-5 and Saturday 10-3 or call 5993003 to make a booking outside of these times. The boutique offers a wide range of garments, catering to all sizes and budgets. You can also view the stunning waterfront residence on First National’s website, as the property is for sale.
This article was originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post July edition Life & Style magazine