Taking the dream from Tonga to Germany
Get to Know Rosie Akauola-Fine
"Island Rose Dream"
Ever wondered what it’s like being Pasifika and being your own boss (BYOB)? Meet our 1st Pasifika Spotlight on Island Rose Dream.
Founder of Island Rose Dream (IRD), Rosie Akauola-Fine’s favorite quote is hold the vision and trust the process. The success of Island Rose Dream’s showcases the results of what happens when you do hold the vision and trust the process.
Growing up in Tonga, Rosie was inspired by women around her making Tongan oil with botanical plants and herbs from their own garden. With this inspiration, she created Tongan beauty and skincare products with a modern touch. Island Rose Dream’s products are all ethically sourced from The Kingdom Of Tonga. Though she is currently located in Stuttgart, Germany; her business is able to support her homeland community.
For Rosie, her journey to entrepreneurship runs deep in her family. She grew up watching her dad build his own private medical clinic and her mum minding her hair salon and cake shop businesses. It only felt natural for Rosie to follow in her parents’ footprints.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing at the start for the Pasifika entrepreneur who quit her full-time corporate job to focus on IRD, “I actually needed my full-time job to fund my side hustle because I didn’t want to take out a business loan.” Rosie goes on to explain the importance of investing money and time into bettering the business. This includes investing in marketing and online platforms like social media because “it gets the word out about your business, [and] it gives your business a voice.”
Now in its seventh year in business, Rosie is looking to share her experience and expertise in hopes to empower young pacific island girls out there to not give up on their dreams, “even if all the odds are stacked against them.” Island Rose Dream has partnerships with youth organisations and women groups from different villages in Tonga.
Experience the tropical touch of Tonga through Island Rose Dream’s bath, body and beauty products. Established for seven years, you can rest assured, you are getting the best of the best. Island Rose Dream’s products are all ethically sourced from The Kingdom Of Tonga. Island Rose Dream’s website mentions Tongan oils are great for body and skincare, “our Tongan ancestors used these oils for centuries to protect, moisturise, massage and soothe their skin and still to this day Tongan oil or Lolo Tonga is found in most households in Tonga.”
Rosie shares her story...
What inspired you to set up your own business? My Tongan cultural heritage definitely inspired me to set up my own business. I grew up in Tonga watching the women around me make their own Tongan oils by using botanical plants and herbs from their own garden, I also saw a gap in the international market for Tongan beauty & skincare products, and so from there I wanted to create traditionally inspired Tongan made products with a modern touch. I also wanted to build a business where I was able to support my people in Tonga.
Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit? Are your parents entrepreneurs? Absolutely! I definitely inherited my parent’s entrepreneurial spirit. My dad is a very hardworking medical doctor, he started working long hours at the Vaiola hospital in Tonga, he then branched out and became one of the first doctors in Tonga to start his own private medical clinic. I watched my dad build his own private medical clinic (literally in the backyard of our home in Tonga) and attached to his medical clinic was my mum’s businesses where she would run her hair salon and cake shop. They taught me from a young age that I can become my own boss.
What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur? My driving force was having the freedom to do what I want, when I want. Starting an ecommerce store allowed me to have that work from home lifestyle where I’m able to make my own decisions, set up my own hours, wear comfortable clothes, and not have worry about peak hour traffic and having to answer to any of my bosses because now I’m my own boss. My husband also travels a lot for work and I get to tag along, while also being able to work from my laptop, I’m super blessed to have an amazing team in Melbourne who can pack and ship orders for me while I am away.
Where did the idea of your business derive from? Tongan oil has been used for centuries and it’s a body and skincare essential that can be found in most homes in Tonga today. We also add light fragrances to some of the oils for that modern touch. I wanted to share this ancient beauty secret with the world and in return this would create income opportunities for our local communities in Tonga.
How did you come up with the name of your Business? It’s pretty self-explanatory. “Island” – Because I was born and raised in the Islands. “Rose”- Because my Tongan name is Losevati, Lose means Rose and “Dream” – Because it’s always been a dream of mine to be my own boss.
How would you highlight your competitive advantage? What makes it stand out of others out there? Our Tongan coconut & botanical oils are ethically sourced and handmade by villagers from Tonga. People worldwide can easily purchase these Tongan oil products from our website and it will be shipped directly to their front door. Our wedding / party favour packages are also very popular for any type of occasion and we’ve supplied many party favours worldwide.
Who is one of the entrepreneurs to be your greatest example and inspiration? My mum and dad are my greatest examples and inspiration. They actually set me up for success, without even knowing it.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day to day busy schedule? I have to make sure my working environment is clean and in order, it sounds weird but I can only focus when the house is clean lol and I like having either a scented candle or an essential oil infuser on while I’m working.
What would your advice be to start up entrepreneurs? My advice is to find a niche, research your market, educate yourself, and take advantage of social media platforms because if you have something good to sell, you can reach thousands of people.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in? Marketing is important in business because it gets the word out about your business, it gives your business a voice. Social media is very powerful when it comes to advertising and digital marketing and the best thing is that it’s free. Your business presence should be on all social media platforms for it to be visible.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be successful? I was working full time at my corporate job during the week and also worked weekends at my hospitality job, while I started my side hustle, I actually needed my full time job to fund my side hustle because I didn’t want to take out a business loan. At times I wouldn’t sleep because for some reason, I would be bursting with ideas at 3am in the morning and when I get that burst I don’t stop lol
What do you enjoy most about what you do? The flexibility and having the ability to share a piece of Tonga to the world, while making an impact has been one of the most rewarding feelings ever.
What’s your least favourite part about what you do? Not being able to control certain things such as shipping delays, we heavily rely on postal services to get our packages to our customers and at times they take longer than expected and sometimes packages get lost, but luckily we have customers that are very understanding
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with being an entrepreneur? It can be very unpredictable sometimes, there are times where it can get really busy, especially during holidays and there are quiet days too, so an entrepreneur’s income can constantly go up and down. I think it’s also important to have multiple streams of income such as investments in properties and shares.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur? I make sure I have a list of things to do every day and start with the hardest tasks first. By the end of the day, all my “to do” lists have to be complete.
What do you wish you knew before you started your first business? Don’t try doing everything yourself, be open to investing in professionals to do the work for you, such as graphic designers. I actually tried to build my own website and it was a disaster. Invest your money into bettering your business.
What best motivates you? How has your motivation changed since you first started? When I first started, my main motivation was getting out of that unhappy 9 to 5 corporate world and transitioning into a more flexible work lifestyle. I also felt like I had an obligation as a Tongan woman who was born and raised in Tonga to give back and support my community. Now that I’m in a more privileged position, I want to be able to inspire young pacific island girls especially those still living in the islands, because I too was in their position and I want to make sure they continue to work hard towards their dreams even if all the odds are stacked against them, just don’t give up.
How do you manage stress? Decluttering and cleaning the house really helps with my stress levels. If the weather is nice outside, I usually sit out in the patio with a tropical smoothie and just play some 90’s Rnb music while practicing visualisation.
Do you have a favourite quote? Hold the vision and trust the process