President of Ni Vanuatu Arts and Craft Association, Josephine Peter says her members have started to network with the islands to bring in their products for sale in Port Vila.

They recently displayed a table filled with freshly made products from the islands of Tanna, Ambrym, Pentecost Ambae as well as mama residents in Port Vila, to prove what they have on offer.

The president says they are confident of attracting different types of products from all islands in the country to sell to visitors. “Once we are comfortable, our next objective is to set up in all six Provinces to strengthen our network”, he says.

Both the Ni Vanuatu Arts and Craft Association and Bulvanua Art and Handicraft Cooperative Society are registered separately with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission.

Since both have their respective constitutions under which to operate, President Josephine Peter says in her opinion it would be a challenge for the two entities to work as one since they each have their own legal guidelines to operate by.

Marketing Manager for the mamas association Nasuven Enares who is of Tannese and Ambaean origin says, she is working to market the products with the mamas’ business outlets at Port Vila market.

Once the venture has developed to a comfortable level, she is going to market their products in Australia and New Zealand before going international.

While helping the mamas, Enares says it is a “big learning curve” for her as a South Sea Islander. “I am trying to get the mamas to diversify with the styles that they have”, she says.

“On the table are new styles from Pentecost and from Ambae. That is a hand bag and I have not seen a hand bag woven here in Vanuatu yet. I am having made one hundred hats as we are heading into the summer now. The brims are going to be wide and I am getting the producers to weave little holes in the top so air can flow through”, she explains.

Also she is advising the producers to weave special hand bags for computers and cameras so she is diversifying with bags as well.

While the mamas association also uses paint to beautify their products, the Marketing Manager encourages them to use natural colours which blend well in the tropical environment. “I am telling the women, let’s go for the natural colours as much as we possibly can as paint is not good for the environment”, she adds.

Asked how it feels coming home and helping ni Vanuatu mamas to market their products, she says, “It’s exciting…” then pauses before apologising for getting emotional.

She believes that as a South Sea Islander with her upbringing in a western society, she has the ability of both worlds to become the bridge for ni Vanuatu mamas.