Turning trash into cash

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Flora Lu, sitting third from left, and Victoria Lu, sitting second from right, at the opening of the workshop with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and ROC ambassador Victo Yu

ELEVEN children in a family is no easy task for parents, but a good number of young people nowadays also come from large families of over 10 and will know exactly what it’s like.
But struggles and difficulties in such large family units always motivate children to work harder because their tough past motivates them to be better people in the future.
A Taiwanese fisherman faced the same struggles, but the only encouragement two of his daughters still recites from their father is “11 kids working together will never go hungry”.
Victoria Lu and Flora Lu came from the small Islands of Pescadores in Taiwan.
They are two sisters from a family of 11 and their past struggles have motivated them to become renowned jewelry designers in the world.
“We also live on Islands like your islands. We are Island mermaids like you,” they told some 40 local women during a workshop they run on design and fashion this week.
The small Islands belong to Taiwan, mostly inhabited by fishermen.
“The Islands are much smaller and we have pretty much nothing in terms of resources that can guarantee a prosperous future, but we have sea shells, which we’ve now turned into illustrious jewelry in the world markets,” the two sisters told the local women at the opening of the three-day workshop.
The workshop, which ended yesterday at the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM), was officially opened by Prime Minister Manaseh Sogavare.
The two renown jewelry designers were invited by the Republic of China/Taiwan embassy here to help local artists and designers under a training titled “Solomon Islands Fashion Jewelry Project: Ocean Creations”.
At around 1959, a powerful typhoon which was later upgraded to a tropical storm status, assigned with the name Billie swept through Penghu or Pescadores Islands.
“We have nothing left on our Islands. Almost everyone on the Islands were fishermen. We were young and there were a lot of empty sea shells that we thought would be turned into something useful.”
In 1963, the two sisters started making use of sea shells and established Lucoral & Lupearl Cooperation.
The first two letters of the business name came from their surnames ‘Lu’ with coral and pearl suffixes.
They polish corals, pearls and sea shells to magnificent jewels, using their own unique techniques and designs.
The business eventually grew popular in Taiwan and is now enjoying growth in international markets.
With a worldwide network of customers, Lucoral & Lupearl has offices in Taipei; New York; Hong Kong; Honolulu, Hawaii; Hamden, Connecticut; Shanghai & Shen-Zhen, China; with four freshwater pearl farms and two saltwater pearl farms and manufacturing operations in China and Taiwan.
Lucoral & Lupearl has come a long way in the past 55 years and now employs over 1,000 people worldwide and is renowned for specializing in precious corals and fine cultured pearls.
“We pride ourselves on giving clients a high quality and fine make and ensure quality in corals, pearls and natural gemstones.
“At Lucoral & Lupearl, art and design created hand in hand to offering the best and the finest.”
With 55 years of leadership, Lucoral & Lupearl is one of the largest and most respected companies in the world jewelry industry.
One of the two sisters Flora Lu, later moved on in the early 90s to set up a Lucoral Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during his July state visit to Taiwan was given a glimpse of the company and was impressed.
He knew Solomon Islanders are naturally artistic and could also make use of sea shells which are abundant in the country.
The ROC embassy here then decided to bring the two sisters to help local artists and designers.
One of the grand advantages of bringing in the two renowned jewelry specialists is opening up markets at the international level for local artists.
The two sisters were enthusiastic in sharing their experiences with local women and willingly admitted their readiness to help out with marketing overseas.
Some of the topics covered in the workshop included Marketing Management Courses, Introduction to Artistic Concept, Merchandise Display, Sales Training, Customers Management, Creative Design, and plenty of Hands-on opportunities for the participants to try out new machines and materials brought all the way from Taiwan.
The workshop ended with a public exhibition yesterday.
The two sisters encouraged women especially to unlock their potential and explore new ideas in entrepreneurship.
ROC ambassador Victor Yu admitted that Lucoral & Lupearl Group is a renowned jewelry company in Taiwan.
“Their range of business includes pearl farming, designing, retailing, and culture creative marketing,” Mr Yu stated.
“The company also operates a sub-branch and a jewelry Museum in Honolulu, USA. They also conducted similar workshop in Marshall Islands.
“Up until now, they still work closely with Marshall Islands’ art and handicraft community. Therefore “Lucoral & Lupearl Group” is no stranger to the Pacific region.”
Mr Yu added that Solomon Islands have fascinating art works as well.
“The artistic expressions of Solomon sculptures, paintings, and jewelries are unique in their own way.
“Taiwan and Solomon Islands are both countries surrounded by the ocean, therefore I am sure that the workshop has definitely sparked new ideas, and enhanced the understanding between our peoples.”
Prime Minister Sogavare said the market concept of the workshop was pleasing given that locals are artistic but international markets are lacking.
A total of 40 participants have been recruited by Ministry of Women, Youth, Children & Family Affairs, National Council of Women, and Artist Association of Solomon Islands to join the training.