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As Secretary of Fashion Council of Fiji, I am always looking for opportunities to help our members gain access to internal and external markets. After my friend Mue Bentley Fisher dragged me to ANZ FETA (Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards) last year (she works for ANZ) we quickly realised that there was an opportunity for FCF and ANZ to partner, we just didn't what or how to do it.

Creative Artists in Fiji are starved for opportunities and it's one of the reasons I am heavily involved with the fashion industry. It's one of the many arts industries that is under represented.

Samson Lee (left) and Faraz Ali, Chairman of Fashion Council of Fiji in front of the first unveiled Fashion ATM at ANZ House on Victoria Parade

Fast forward a couple of months after TC Winston has devastated Fiji and we're smack bang in the middle of recovery efforts, one night over a bottle of wine Mue and I are discussing GayTM's in Australia and if Fiji was ready for that, both of us decided maybe not. Mue then said 'Hey, Fashion ATM's' and the rest they say is history.

We were extremely lucky that the powers that be at ANZ loved the idea and a partnership was born between FCF and ANZ. FCF chose 6 of it's designer members to feature their individual prints on ATM's around Fiji. These ATM's were unveiled as a countdown to ANZ FETA 2017 and what I hoped was a step in the right direction of 'fashion diplomacy' in Fiji.

Key to the partnership was providing our members with ANZ's Money Minded training, I know what you're thinking 'boring' but this is such a great platform that's delivering financial literacy training and this is something we desperately need in Fiji. Our emerging designers who are starting up businesses will benefit from this training. If I'm being honest, it's something that we need to counter the attitude of 'spend now, save never' and 'dinau' (credit) in Fiji.

Our six designers were Ilai Jikoinono, Robert Kennedy, Hupfeld Hoerder, Moira Solvalu John and Edward Solvalu, Epeli Tuibeqa and Samson Lee. I am extremely proud of ANZ supporting a creative arts industry of Fiji and for recognising a niche and nascent market. ANZ has also led the way by endorsing and linking our designers to Fiji Tourism's biggest event the ANZ FETA. You can read more on FETA 2017 here.

Congrats to the 6 FCF designers and here's to the next big idea!



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