Julie Moroko’s tailoring shop tucked away at the corner of Buka Town is a happy, bustling place where she sits behind her sewing machine surrounded by fabric of vivid colours.
A coat of thousand coloured dreams
August 31, 2022
Here, in this well-equipped studio, is where all the magic happens. In this haven, she and her small band of workers, turn fabrics and paints into beautiful dresses, shirts and accessories.
The talent and artistry are remarkable but what makes this shop special is the sheer joy shown from the faces of staff who are usually family members, saying that the shop keeps them motivated as they turn their passion into a business. Their fine artistry and skill are fruits of a family working together with Julie at the helm.
Julie is the eldest of four and when their father passed, she was forced to provide for her family, thus turning her hobby into a business venture. She is supported by her brothers who do the screen printings and stencils' cutting while her sisters and other members of her family sew, cut, iron, fold, and sort. “I taught all of them. It’s more like crash and burn most of the time,” she laughs.
She has been sewing for more than 2O years and only recently registered as a business.
Julie took up tailoring, art, and design at TAFE College whilst attending secondary school in Australia.
“I make PGK1000 (US300) a fortnight, usually through customer orders mostly on tailored clothes. The orders come in various quantities. We focus on different styles and not just Meri blouses. We do shirts, dresses, sulus, pants and uniforms as well.”
The orders come from all over Bougainville, Port Moresby, Lae as well as Australia.
Julie is a small-town designer and tailor who dreams of bringing her brand to the fashion runway one day and is adamant that the soon to be built Bougainville Innovation Hub will pave the way for her and other designers and tailors in Bougainville.
She recently took part in an Open Day for the Innovation Hub Show in Buka, organised by the United National Development Program.
“For me it was an eye opener because it showed me that, I can get help elsewhere as a business. On the business side of things, I don’t really know about running a business but to do the technical stuff, I am very good at sewing. UNDP is helping me take my business to a wider customer base. I am now able to get more customers coming in to see what we have on offer," said Julie.
Julie is also thankful that the soon to be built innovation hubs will allow her to improve her business management and marketing skills through more sophisticated digital technology that the hub may offer.
Three innovation hubs will be built in Buka, Arawa and Buin and will allow Bougainville women, youth and innovators to create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities by providing improved access to business development skills and services.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Buka on Tuesday, to secure additional local, longer-term support for the hubs.
Julie’s story represents the many small to medium enterprises on the island who will benefit from education, mentorship and life skills training.
UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Dirk Wagener said, “UNDP has long supported economic development, in fact we work in 170 countries across the world and we know that small and medium enterprises in particular offer a chance for youth and women to benefit from economic opportunities."
He urged small and medium enterprise to utilise this opportunity.
Mr Wagener joined ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama, Chief Secretary Shadrach Himata, several ABG cabinet ministers and members of the Bougainville House of Representatives in the official signing ceremony at the Buka Polytechnic College to mark the start of the project's next phase.
The Bougainville innovation hubs
The Bougainville innovation hubs will break ground in late September 2022 and will be built in three towns of Buka, Arawa and Buin. It is core part of the economic outcomes associated with the Sustaining Peace Through Economic Empowerment project.
Once completed, many are expected to benefit from education, mentorship and life skills training.
This project is proudly funded by the Government of Japan and is being delivered under a trilateral arrangement between government of Papua New Guinea, United Nations Development Programme and Autonomous Region of Bougainville Government.
“I make PGK1000 (US300) a fortnight, usually through customer orders mostly on tailored clothes. The orders come in various quantities. We focus on different styles and not just Meri blouses. We do shirts, dresses, sulus, pants and uniforms as well.”Ms. Julie Moroko