A women’s handicraft association from Santo’s offshore island of Malo is looking forward to exporting local hats and headwear for the third time since last year.

Formed in the western part of the island, the Bosahe Sector One Women’s Handicraft Association (BSOWHA) aims to create local products for local and international markets.

The idea to form the association came after a training conducted by the Australian Government funded Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Centre on Santo on the importance of starting small businesses.

A local trainer, Linda Natuoivi, was hired by TVET to train the local women on the basics of hats and basket weaving.

The mamas did not hesitate to put their trainings into practice.

A Sydney-based headwear specialist and renowned hat maker, Rossie Boylan, has shown great interest after seeing advertisements online and was keen to see samples.

“We were keen to indulge her when we heard of her plans to visit.

“We made the best hats and waited for her,” said the president of BSOWHA, Elsie Moli.

Boylan was impressed and showed them some extra pointers helping them translate their ancient weaving traditions into the contemporary fashion industry.

Through her guidance they were able to create commercially relevant products and to improve business acumen for local and international sales.

The first market was 17 braided hats which Boylan took home and sent to Hills Hat, a hat manufacturer in Wellington, New Zealand.

A Japanese headwear enterprise was also interested and is now an importer of the BSOWHA products. The second load was sent early this year with a total of 25 woven braids. READ MORE