Who am I and why am I here?

by Gustavia Lui October 20, 2015 28 Comments

 

WARNING: Before you read I had better warn you. I've been told to use "business guidelines or practices" when writing blogs which I feel is absolute GENIUS if I'm writing to an audience of robots. 

I'm more of a people person so I like to talk, hang out, build friendships and relationships. I'm honest and transparent which is exactly how our blogs will come across - raw, unedited and honest! 

I've realised how difficult it is to please everyone! Luckily for us that's not our goal, we've accepted that there will always be critics and those we cannot please, but we firmly believe our blogs and culture here at Staavias will resonate with people who value honesty and you being YOU. 

WHO AM I?

My name is Gustavia Lui, founder and owner of new footwear brand called Staavias. I’m half Samoan half Tuvaluan and a mother of 3 boys Demetrius 12, Deniro 8 and Detroit 4. I am happily married (9 years in June 2016) and we are currently based in Auckland, New Zealand. 

I grew up in a 3-bedroom Housing NZ home (state housing) in a suburb called Takanini, South of Auckland. I lived with my Mum, Stepfather, siblings, Aunties and cousins. From the outside, we looked like happy families but behind closed doors life was a nightmare.

I had endured so much abuse at a young age, physical, emotional and psychological abuse. It was so bad I was uplifted from our home at the age of 7. The final straw was when my dad broke my arm.

Early that morning he and a few friends watched a live boxing match on TV and he was heading to bed as I was getting ready for school. Elastics was the in thing at the time and a friend allowed me to take hers home, so after getting ready I put my elastics around 2 chairs and started jumping.I didn't know my Dad was annoyed by the jumping noise, he walked back out of his room looking furious. I was so scared I stopped everything and sat down quietly. He looked at me and continued walking down the hallway. I was relieved until I saw him come back with a 4 wheeled pram. He stood at the doorway and with all his might threw it directly towards my face. I held up my arm to block my face and as a result my arm broke.

Prior to this, I got regular beatings for being "naughty" the bumps and bruises were easy to hide but this wasn't going to be as easy. I went to school and as expected the authorities found out.

I was immediately uplifted and placed into my Aunt's care and this was just the beginning of moving around from relative to relative, house to house and from school to school. For someone so young, I had difficulty trusting anyone as well as all these other issues.I became consumed by hatred and anger, I started to rebel. I felt paranoid that everyone was against me. I felt so alone, rejected and unloved. I started smoking cigarettes and drugs thinking it would keep me happy - of course it never lasted. I used to wonder how I ended up the way I was, I was quite negative and my thoughts started to take over me, I became depressed. This led me to attempt suicide when I was about 11 years old. 

As I think back to that day while typing this blog, tears roll down my face remembering how dark my world was at the time. I had mixed together chlorine, dishwashing liquid and ajax hoping it would poison and eventually finish me off. Thankfully another Aunty was suspicious and followed me around the house literally. I just gave up in the end, tipped it out and sat outside the house crying for the rest of that day. 

This was life for me up until the end of my intermediate years. Towards the end of Year 9 I had to move back home. My Dad had calmed down a lot but I was still scared and still angry. My behaviour worsened in high school, I was uncontrollable and I eventually dropped out of high school halfway through Year 11. I secured a part time job at McDonalds in Papakura and met my husband there. By 16 I was pregnant and a Mum at 17.

People made remarks like - "I'm not surprised" or "her life was heading that way anyway". It was hard to ignore but I decided to shut everyone out and focus on raising my baby. My parents, especially my Mum was super supportive of me and my choices. I found my own place with my baby and hubby (partner back then). Slowly I started to change my life, my son was 5 months when I secured my first proper full-time job earning $30K at the age of 17. In 2006, I started with Work and Income as a Case Manager and after 9 years I left to pursue my dream of owning my business, full time. 

WHY AM I HERE?

Today I think back to my childhood, teenage years and life as an adult and I can't help but thank God as I know it was my training ground for the bigger things I will be blessed with in life. Once I figured out who I was, I was able to look past all the negativity for positive lessons and I could apply them in my life today.  I've become a strong, independent, loving woman as a result of my experiences. 

Now that I've started my business, the ups and down that comes with business can either make or break you especially if you put your whole life on the line for it - something I've done. I thank God I have had years of training and despite the many, ongoing setbacks and challenges, I am able to keep my eye on our vision, learn from it and keep moving forward.

I started Staavias to solve a pain point my in my life. I have been blessed with large feet but I cannot find shoes that fit them comfortably. I love to dress up and look good but when it comes to shoes - I would always be left feeling down after days and days of looking for shoes all throughout Auckland and not even finding one!! I hated that feeling hence I am so passionate about pursuing this dream. 

The purpose of me sharing my story is not to bad mouth anyone in my family, my Dad is actually a truly changed and loving man today. We all have pasts and have done things we are not proud of so we have no right to pass judgement on anyone else. The reason I've shared my story is to encourage you to believe in yourself and know that your past does NOT define you or your future. If you choose to persevere through everything - there are great rewards waiting for you at the end. 

So Staavias for me is not just about selling shoes to make a quick buck. It's about using my life experiences, lessons and this platform to inspire and empower anyone I cross paths with - whether you're a customer or not. I believe this makes Staavias shoes extra special. 

So yes that's me in a nutshell, I think it's important for you as a reader to gauge an idea of who I am and a bit of my history as this will help us build a genuine relationship - something Staavias will always strive to do as a business. 

I’d love to hear of topics you want us to cover in our blogs, send us your stories of when or how you overcame an issue in your life. We love these kinds of stories, they are full of empowerment and encouragement. 

Please feel free to comment below and share our blog :)





Gustavia Lui
Gustavia Lui

Author


28 Responses

Kate Bates
Kate Bates

March 16, 2017

Finally cool shoes for real feet !
I heard about you on the National Radio, your incredible story & beautiful shoes.
God bless you Staavia !

Deborah Petch
Deborah Petch

March 04, 2017

Hey girl your story was so inspirational and good on you?..I did wonder whether you got around to starting your business and well lets just say I’m impressed..I was in class with you way way back in 2012…Thanks for being real and giving me that extra bit of confidence to continue with my dream.x

Ruth Faleolo
Ruth Faleolo

May 04, 2016

Blessings from Brisbane ☆ ☆ ☆
It was actually my husband who sent me your link (online NZ Herald article) via an email with the subject header ‘Big shoes for women’…on receiving this email that morning I was excited to read about your vision, purpose and solutions for Pasifika-sized feet Gustavia…God bless my dear husband for thinking about me for he knows only too well the numerous times we’ve tried on shoes in stores only to be disappointed by the lack of fit or comfort. My previous teaching career in Auckland allowed me to get away with sneakers and chucks. ..but more recently, my move to do research in Brisbane has left me a bit under-dressed in the professional work I do as an academic, particularly when speaking at conferences and seminars. So, I am grateful for God’s timely blessings today. ..I received my first two pairs of Staavias in Brisbane this week, just in time for Mother’s day. ..I’m so happy with my shoes. ..and my husband and children are pleased too!

Mike Dennehy
Mike Dennehy

April 14, 2016

Congratulations Gustavia on an inspirational story that I feel is only just beginning. Good luck and all the best on your journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and don’t be afraid to ignore it if you disagree either!

Cheers

Mike

Juana Atkins
Juana Atkins

April 14, 2016

Just wanted to let you know that you are our face of the day today :)

http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2016/04/face-of-the-day-1002/#disqus_thread

Michelle
Michelle

April 12, 2016

Hi Alisha
I am shocked to read about your early life… you’re not alone. It’s a bit of a thing in NZ in some families to take it out on the kids. Hopefully things are changing.

Good on you for working through, having a lovely family (can I say your hubby is hot?! haha) and now having your own business. Life’s a journey and you are obviously taking charge, go girl! xxx

darell Anderson
darell Anderson

April 12, 2016

I don’t have bigger feet but I do have difficult feet -and WOW I have to admire and congratulate you Gustavia for your determination and guts to see this through -your family must be so proud of you !!! I wish you all the best success in the world .!!!!

Tink
Tink

April 12, 2016

Big feet, big ideas and an even bigger heart. The shoes are gorgeous too. You go girl.

Lonise Tuala Asalemo
Lonise Tuala Asalemo

October 24, 2015

My dear Gustavia Faamalo Your journey thru life was not easy. But our Heavenly Father held and guide you thru those difficult times in your life now you are blessed with a new beginning So go for it! Love you and family Your Aunty Lonise n your uncle Tuala Asalemo

Rona
Rona

October 14, 2015

Cuzzy im so dam prouda you and I remember how hard it was for you growing up because I remember these events you speak about. As a woman I thank you for being an inspiration and so empowering as I know so many if us have been down bumpy roads. Glory to God for his continuous blessings over you and im sure he has many more to come. We’ll catch up when im home… love you Xx

AIicia Blazak
AIicia Blazak

October 14, 2015

Wow, what a story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m so excited to see your business grow and will tell all the women I know about it- it’s such a great idea xx

Mele Mafaufau Sanerivi
Mele Mafaufau Sanerivi

October 14, 2015

Your story is an inspiration. Out of your pain and suffering you were determined to be a better person. I respect and honour you. I thank you so much for sharing. Fa’amalosi. I want you to know you are not alone. Your life journey says that you are worth more than the things that happened to you. Ia manuia and well done for creating your business. I too have very wide feet and need particular shoes that won’t crush my wide toes. I will definitely check out your merchandise!

Joey Brown
Joey Brown

October 14, 2015

So proud of u cuz …u r blessed to make it where u are now u r a strong independent woman keep reaching for the stars and youll come out on top fight negativity with positivity love your work God Bless!

Charlotte Niuia-Tofa
Charlotte Niuia-Tofa

October 14, 2015

I am so proud and respect you so much for this momentous next step in your life Gustavia! I felt very moved and sad when you wrote a brutally honest account of your childhood. It is so admirable that you found courage deep down inside the despair to move onward and upwards and become who you are today! I wish you nothing but love for your business you sassy sister! God bless <3

Frances Leo
Frances Leo

October 13, 2015

Firstly I give thanks to our Heavenly Father for guiding you and helping you to make your dream a reality. Now that you have shared your story it just highlights the many blessings that have come your way. And you know what Gus, you have not wasted the opportunities that have come your way! I will continue to pray that you and your family be blessed and that you continue to persevere and strive for success in your business venture. Thank you for sharing as it offers inspiration for many who have dreams of their own to fulfill. xx

Lexus
Lexus

October 13, 2015

Dam similar pasts but hey you made it, spread them wings and fly sky is the limit.

Sia Timu
Sia Timu

October 10, 2015

So proud of you sis. All this time I had no idea, takes real courage to share, strength to build yourself out of nothing and REAL HEART to open up and be a light to others. God is definitely good, I have always admired your kick ass spirit! Your a Legend Gee! Uplifting you in prayer, we wish you nothing but the best sis! – Timu family

Norah Swann
Norah Swann

October 02, 2015

You are a blessing. It is a privilege to know and have you as a friend. All the best Gus. You deserve every success that is coming your way VERY soon. Xx

Tala Green
Tala Green

October 01, 2015

Yay :) GO Sass…. This got me teary…. Hearing your story again made me appreciate my upbringing even though it was a tiny bit similar. Can’t wait to see your business grow. And thank you!!! I can now wear comfy and stylish shoes and I don’t have to squeeze my toes in anymore hahahahaha. Awesome stuff x

helen motufoua
helen motufoua

October 01, 2015

Your such an inspiration Cuz!! You got me tearing up there? so damn proud of you keep being you – do whatever it takes and know you have a great support system behind you all the way! Enjoy your (business) trip to China – love ya always! Xo

Bry-Anne M
Bry-Anne M

September 30, 2015

Amazing story, takes courage to speak about. Good on you and good luck with this venture. Look forward to watching your business grow !

Taulago Brown
Taulago Brown

September 30, 2015

Thank you for sharing your story. You’re such a strong person I never ever would have guessed that you went through such things. This just shows how good the Lord has been to you and your family. God bless you and I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use YOU and your business to win souls for His Kingdom. I’m so proud of you! :) p.s. cried reading this, THANK YOU for sharing it! xxxxx

Shirley Jessop
Shirley Jessop

September 30, 2015

I knew this day would come for you Gus, that determination of yours has paid off. Your story is one no child should have to experience and for you to have shared it takes courage. May all the Angels watch over you and be with you as you move forward on this awesome new journey for which you have worked so hard. I believe in you Gus, always have xxx

Moira Ale
Moira Ale

September 30, 2015

Awesome Gus! Just goes to show that your past does NOT determine your present or future! All the best with your business! I’m excited to watch your business as well as yourself grow!!! Get it girl! Xx

Ese Mulipola
Ese Mulipola

September 30, 2015

Love it Sis – such a blessing to witness your journey! proud of you:):) xxx

Gustavia
Gustavia

September 30, 2015

Hey Alisha! Thanks for reading LOL@my mansion in Calabasas – you still remember ;) Thank you so much xx

Hey Cous @Able.. Thanks man! I know we had a similar upbringing aye, I even stayed with you guys at one point and then you with us again, thanks for reading and the support! xx

Alisha Tevaga
Alisha Tevaga

September 30, 2015

I love this. So proud of you. All the best on this new exciting journey!! You’re well ok your way to that mansion in Calabasas. Xx

Able Taefu
Able Taefu

September 30, 2015

Hey cuz pelu here fuck that story’s dope similar too me as well hardships ungreatful but far staavis mad but fuck litarly that’s dope as

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Size Chart

To ensure a correct fit, please measure your feet to find the LENGTH and GIRTH measurements.

To measure the LENGTH of your foot, measure from your heel to the end of the tallest toe. 

To measure the GIRTH of your foot, measure right around the widest part of your foot. 

Compare your measurements to these measurements below. If you need help or have any questions - jump on live chat or email/phone us. 

 Size 10 10.5 11 11.5 12 12.5 13 14
Length (cms) 26.4 27.3 28.1 29.0 29.8 30.7 31.5 32.3
Wide Width (cms) 24.4 25.0 25.7 26.3 26.9 27.6 28.3 29.2