The idea to write about my life as an army wife here in the UK came about during a conversation with a close friend of mine. It was said in jest and we both laughed it off but the seed had more or less been sown after that… So it’s only fitting that in my Fijian Women Of The World series that I would feature that friend of mine first. Meet Lorna Yakopo-Hazelman.
To describe her merely as a fellow army wife would be a disservice. Not that there is anything wrong with being known as an army wife, far from it. However in addition to being a military spouse, Lorna is also an entrepreneur, an avid netball enthusiast and above all else a kick-ass mom of 2.
Lorna was born in Fiji, she spent the first 12 years of her life in Levuka before moving across to Melbourne, Australia to join her parents. When asked how that may have impacted her teenage years, she emphasised that even though she had moved countries, the family dynamics remained constant and that helped her settle into life in Australia a whole lot easier. She mentions that it may also have been a blessing in disguise that her parents brought her over to Australia before she reached her teen years, as it meant getting to know her peers before the teenage angst years was a whole lot easier to cope with. A few of us Fijian parents here in the military community that moved over from Fiji can attest to this. A few of us have had to move continents with grown children, to a whole different culture and have had to adjust accordingly. It's no small feat and I applaud both parents and children who are able to intergrate into their respective communities and experience the opportunities a new country has to offer. Lorna is no stranger to this experience and history has had a way of repeating itself with her eldest child, who has also had to experience moving countries, although not from Fiji but from Melbourne.
Whilst some may say that this can hardly be compared to the lifestyle that some of us may have left behind when leaving Fiji, we must always keep in mind that children regardless of which country that they may be in are more prone to associate their quality of life with the people that they're surrounded with that give them a feeling of belonging, and as such, the feeling of being homesick and wanting to return to the comforts of familiarity is the same for every child.
Lorna’s passion it seems lies in her creative arts. This passion was borne out of the love of fashion and art. A mantra of hers when learning and trying out new things is, “just try and do it”. Whilst chatting with her about the inspiration behind her work, Lorna mentions that, her parents work ethics has always been a driving force behind how she tackles any project. Because of this dedication to hardwork, any project she undertakes is given the same level of input, regardless of how big or small the project is. She also mentioned that, one should never be afraid to try new thing as this is the only way of finding out what it is you’re meant to be doing in life. Lorna adds that if you find that after trying something out that you do not feel inclined to carry on with it, then you must make peace with the fact that, that particular journey is not for you. Out of this drive to succeed in all that she does, Lorna’s midas touch has finally found its niche in her caking business.
When asked how she came about to become such a successful caker, Lorna simply replied, it was just something for me to do after moving here and trying to figure out how to fit in to a whole new community I was now a part of. That was 2013, fast forward 4 years and Lorna now has a following of more than 19k on social media platforms and is having to turn away potential customers due to the never-ending workload she has on her plate (no pun intended).
The creative inspiration behind Lorna’s work is something she feels is intertwined with her role as a mom; a wife and a proud Pacific Islander woman. No creative concept is ever always original, that is something that artists will agree to disagree with, and her work is akin to a form of art. However inorder to make it an original concept, she always strives to put her own twist into it so that anyone who has seen her work will immediately be able to pick it out from the crowd. One of the challenges she faces with this is the under appreciation of the skill that goes into making a cake unique to the customer who has ordered it, this is one of the reasons she always refers to her work as a labour of love. Lorna feels that there can never be a price high enough for the the work an artist does so inorder to keep her work relevant for the market, she is always having to evolve her own skills and make it unique to her so that others can come to appreciate her handiwork. As is the case with all artists, work will more often than not be replicated, when faced with such situations she has learnt to take it as a form of flattery that someone has considered her concept worthy enough to be copied, however the only niggling hiccup to this is the lack of credit that is attributed to her creative concept and people unabashedly passing it off as their own. Lorna hopes that in due course she will be able to provide a platform whereby instead of feeling the need to replicate her work, that she can instead inspire and play a role in assisting those who are interested in the same field of work to realise their dreams & aspirations and hone their skills also.
So what does a busy “momtrepreneur” do in her spare time… if there indeed is any to spare? She spends it with her two beautiful children. They recently just had a new addition to their family, a little boy to keep his older sister company is how she described them.
The arrival of her youngest child has made her rekindle her love for photography and as such has initiated a whole new creative process with regards to baby brand representative work. The idea behind this particular concept for those who may not be as well versed to it is, instead of going the mainstream path of employing an agent to be able to get brands to work with you, its upon you as either the parent or for yourself to be able to crate a brand concept for retail corporations or small buiness owners. Although I've over simplified it, it isn’t as simple as that. Inorder to get the brands interested, you must have a keen eye for detail and of course a sense of creativity to be able to market your brand. Lorna has surpassed this with regards to branding her caking business and also her photography skills with well thought out pictures of her children. All this is done from the comfort of their home with none of the fancy equipment one might see studios use, but it has gained them a considerably engaging following and also piqued the interests of a few brands that have approached them for collabrations. Again, when asked what drives her passion in her work, her response has always remained constant, and that is, hard work and perseverance always pays off. Patience is a definitely a virtue in it all, as well.
I have always found myself drawn to strong characters, be it male or female, but lately I feel that this particular journey that I am on, is one where I need to connect with women who are pushing boundaries and going above and beyond to break the mould of what is expected of women. Lorna’s journey is one of many of Fijian Women all over the world. We might not all be corporate professionls, we might not all be stay at home moms, we might not all be entrepreneurs – regardless of what we are doing in life, it’s important to remember that we always strive to be better versions of ourselves the next day. Lorna is a perfect example of how solid work ethics and a woman’s intutition when it comes to knowing what is right and what to let go of, will reap its benefits in the long run. I look forward to bringing you more stories about amazing Fijian Women Of The World.
Love & light always,