BY CHRIS ALEX
HONIARA has over the years becoming quite popular with local vendors trading unique and attractive cultural and traditional artefacts, and fashionable jewellery.
Elizabeth Samani from the Langa-Langa lagoon in Malaita province has been a vendor, doing her daily business in making, promoting and selling of the Solomon Islands handmade traditional and fashionable jewellery at a booth, which is registered as Island Jewellery.
Island Jewellery is co-owned by Elizabeth and five local business partners. They initially started the business operation in 2012. The business shop is located at the Arts and Crafts Centre in Art Gallery, Central Honiara.
Elizabeth,37, is gifted in the art of making traditional shell money and also very passionate in crafting fashionable seashell jewellery like earrings, necklaces, hair pins, headdresses, armlets and many more.
“I was brought up in the traditional art of making traditional shell money in the coastal community of Langa-Langa lagoon in Malaita province.
“The values and cultural practises art of making traditional shell money was passed to us (shell money makers) from our forefathers.
“As coastal dwellers, our wealth and livelihood are more centralised on our sea resources like for example, we produce shell money to exchange (traditional barter system) with communities inland for food and other basic materials to survive and sustain life,” she told Solomon Women.
Elizabeth said her main clients and customers are expatriates and tourists.
“Now faced with the aftermath of the pandemic and the harsh reality of keeping the business afloat and going forward, the government through the ministry of culture and tourism have previously introduced a proposed post-covid (business) recovery strategy to support local artists and vendors affected by the pandemic in the business sector of tourism in the country, so far we are waiting on the ministry to fulfil their promises,” she said.
She said the negative turn of events triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of financial problem more especially to sustain the profit making life of the every businesses located at the Arts and Crafts Centre in Art Gallery.
“Most local artists like traditional carvers, painters, vendors, craftsmen and women have still not recovered from the hard blows hit by the pandemic on the local economy.
“Whilst tourists’ arrivals after the pandemic have made media headlines in the country, there is still signs of slow recovery in terms making business profits,” Elizabeth said.