This August we celebrate the lovely Mayleen Bani at Poppys on the Lagoon.
Living her life through Christ, Mayleen is passionate about setting up a clothes boutique in the future to fund a project for underprivileged children in order to give them an opportunity to experience life in a different way. She is open to sharing her skills to anyone who wants to learn.
#SistaGatStyle #Designer&Model #PurposeAndPrayer #GelPentecostMaewo #AelanQueen
Mayleen is a hardworking young woman originally from Maewo and Pentecost Island, currently working as the Returns and Debt Officer at the department of Customs and Inland Revenue.
She has been designing and making her family’s clothes since 2018. As the only income earner, Mayleen embarked on this endeavor out of necessity as having their clothes sewed by tailors was expensive.
Where are you from?
I am part Maewo and Pentecost. My dad is from Maewo and mum is from Pentecost.
Tell us about your family?
I have two sisters and one brother. I’m the second in the family but the eldest daughter. So, like they say the eldest daughter is always the second mother in the family. I work and I look after my siblings and my parents.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to learn new things. During my free time I love to sing and dance with the youths and the Sunday School Kids and also enjoy a night out with them. I grew up in a Christian home, both of my parents are pastors so I basically grew up in a church, it’s a second home to me. I love to play sports, I play netball, and I do athletics, mainly 100M spring. Growing up, I was just involved in just about everything.
What do you do?
I finished year 13 at Malapoa College and continued in 2016 with my foundation courses and a few courses in 100 level at the University of the South Pacific in 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete my studies due to financial issues. I was going to do Economics and Accounting but major in economy and management. My dad was sick at that time and he couldn’t afford studies so I had to leave school early and look after him and my mum including my younger siblings. At that time my eldest brother was selected for a scholarship in PNG, so he had to go and I stayed in order to work to provide for our family. In 2017 I started to play sports. I was part of the 2017 national Netball squad Mini games. In 20I8 I started working at the department of Customs and Inland Revenue in the Inland division under the section of Return and Debt. It has been 5 years now with my position as the Return and Debt Officer. I love my job, it is challenging at times but it is also beneficial. I learn new things every day and I attended workshops at Live and Learn including, World Vision just to get some experience.
What do you aspire to do in the future?
I love to help people and use fashion as an entry point to help others in any way possible. I would like to own a fashion clothing shop someday. The profits raised from this fashion entrepreneurship will be towards funding for orphanages. I grew up with little resources and given my situation I still want to share with kids that have absolutely nothing. It really hurts to see kids that are unable to go to school, don’t have enough footwear or other basic necessities. I want to have a place set up purposely for kids to give them an opportunity to experience life in a different way. Just to give them a second chance or a life that any other average kid has.
What is a quote that you live by?
A life of purpose can only be fulfilled when we put God first and make him the center of our lives. So let go and let God. This quote is supported with a bible verse in Philipians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.
How would you describe your style?
I like to dress in a way that is modest. Maybe because I grew up in a Christian home so my mum is really old-fashioned. She has taught me to be mindful of what I wear in public places such as church or school. Therefore, I like to dress up modestly. It comes with the idea of knowing myself in Christ. Whatever I wear I choose to ensure that I am presentable, respectful to the community and try to set an example for the kids. I love fashion and using it to celebrate my upbringing and faith. . Fashion makes me feel confident. When I see the dresses that I sew it makes me feel good. It encourages me and fills me with confidence to face my challenges, that encourages me and I am proud of myself and my achievements.
Who influences your style?
My mum was my main influencer. Although she doesn’t know much about modern fashion,I try to turn that old school fashion into something that has a little bit of old and new trendy style. I just added a little bit of flavor to it to make it look simple and yet elegant.
What beauty products do you use?
I don’t have any specific product to use. I am not picky with anything, I just find whichever suits me the best. But the perfume that I use the most is Maria Carrey, and in terms of lotion I normally use Cocoa , with hair products, I like to use Palmolive Aloe Vera.
Any fashion tips?
My advice would be to dress in a way that is modest. You can still be beautiful and fashionable without showing your cleavage, and it’s important for me that when I have kids one day, part of my legacy will be them saying ‘My mum loves fashion and expressed herself in a way that promoted modesty’. I want to dress up and feel respected and at the same time have my dignity.
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve had to face?
The most difficult thing I had to face was giving up school and finding a job to provide for my family at a very young age. I feel like my freedom was taken away from me and that I didn’t get to enjoy life as a young person. Sometimes I felt like life wasn’t fair. Reflecting back now I am thankful to God that it was truly God’s plan for my life, allowing it this way. I learned a lot of life lessons. I learned how to manage money, how to look after a home and how to provide for a family. I am grateful for my mum, who is a prayer warrior. She helps me by praying and encouraging me when I feel like I can’t make it. Along the way I have always been reminded that God is with me.
Sewing has been a big blessing to me and my family. In our family we have more girls, and it can be challenging especially when paying for fabrics and cost of tailors to tailor our clothes for events mainly in churches and schools. It pushed me to the point that I had to do something about it. So, I decided to go online and taught myself how to sew garments. It’s indeed a blessing from God to me and my family. If anybody asked me to teach them how to sew regardless of their gender, I would do it because I believe in blessing others.
What is your biggest fear?
My first biggest fear is losing someone I love. I share a home with my siblings and my family. Every day is a memory that I create. I make sure to make the most of it. As quoted in the Bible our life is just like a flower, it blooms in the morning and falls when the sun sets. I live today as the last day of my life and I treat everyone with love to the fullest. Another fear that I have is losing myself along the process especially within the fashion industry. As a Christian I have to know myself in Christ so when I am involved in any activities, I will not easily get carried away from my beliefs and values. A gentle reminder to myself that there are people out there who look up to us and when our testimony is destroyed, then those people can become discouraged.
What is something you love about yourself?
I love to share and put a smile on other people’s faces so people can relate and experience what I experience in life.
Photographer: Niki Kautonga
Make-up: Hair & Body Shop
Venue: Poppys on the lagoon
Assistant: Rosina Kaimbang
About the Designer
Mayleen designs all her fashionable garments, if you want to wear one of her designs, you can contact her on 5406392.
This article was originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s June 2022 Life and Style magazine edition.