House of Mausio | A celebration of Pacific identity and fashion

Fashion Designers Council Meeting 2023. Picture: SUPPLIED/MICHAEL MAUSIO

At just 32, Michael Mausio has already made a remarkable name for himself in Fiji’s fashion industry. His brand, the House of Mausio, is driven by a desire to preserve and celebrate Pacific Island culture and heritage.

Born to a mixed heritage — his father of Rotuman and Tuvaluan descent and his mother of Russian and Fijian descent, Michael spent his formative years in Kiribati, Samoa and the Cook Islands before completing his high school education at the Marist Brothers High School in Suva. Soon after, while enrolled at the University of the South Pacific, he began dabbling in fashion.

“For me, fashion was always therapeutic. It was my hobby,” Michael said.

“It wasn’t until 2008 when Fashion Week held its first show and after reading about it in the paper, that I thought I could try and be part of that industry. I thought it might be a good networking platform, a space to express my artistic side and make some pocket money.”

Recalling those earlier days, Michael says he had initially applied as a model for the second Fashion Week and got rejected.

“So, I said OKAY, if I’m not going to be a model, maybe I should be a designer in this industry, so I jumped onto that,” he laughs.

At the time, Michael was pursuing studies in sociology and management.

He would later receive a fashion and textile scholarship sponsored by the Textile Council. It wasn’t until 2016 that he got into the fashion business and says he was lucky to be mentored by Rosie Semisi, a renowned figure in the industry, who taught him how to develop prints, design, make patterns and sew.

“I started at home in my bedroom with just my sewing machine, fabric and prints. Social media back then was kind of new, so that was the best way to start selling and introducing people to our products,” Michael said.

“I realised the business potential and how it could help benefit my family. I had an aunt who knew how to sew and wasn’t working at the time, so she helped me. Soon more family members joined the business and it just started growing from there,” Michael shared.

After a few years of working in a very niche market, Michael realised that he needed to change his business model to become more commercially viable.

“While we continue to do oneoff pieces upon request, most of our garments are produced on a commercial scale and are limited editions – sizes and designs. That way, it ensures that not everybody goes to the same functions and wears the same thing because that’s the problem we found, especially here in Fiji with our small population.”

As the business grew, Michael joined the inaugural cohort of the Fiji Enterprise Engine (FEE) program to support his business development plans.

FEE is Fiji’s first private sector-led business accelerator initiative managed by the Fiji Commerce and Employer’s Federation in partnership with the Australian Government’s Market Development Facility, Ministry for Trade, Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and iTaukei Affairs Trust Fund Board.

“I still use what I learned from the FEE program. I still have my notebook from FEE, and I use it as my guide for developing business strategic plans and marketing ideas,” he said.

The House of Mausio now employs a dedicated team of talented individuals, including printers, machinists, graphic designers, and sales and events personnel, creating limited edition garments that blend innovation and tradition.

Michael has added engineering qualifications to his impressive list of accolades and manages several successful businesses including an engineering company and a travel agency specialising in private charters.

Recently, the House of Mausio participated in the Auckland Rotuma Week and will showcase its creations at the upcoming Utah Pacific Fashion Show next month.

Michael confirms there are also major plans to launch the fashion brand in Tuvalu and Hawaii.

Stay updated with House of Mausio’s latest creations and events via their Facebook page or contact them today:

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