Back in the day, we weren’t allowed to just randomly go to a friend’s house and play – unless our parents knew their parents’ villages, and therefore genealogies, and church communities lol.  In my teen years, my life consisted of family, hanging with church friends, school and church – in that order. My church friends became my best friends/family – they knew my extended family and I knew theirs.   I met Nora when I was about 11 years old. Her family joined our church, our mothers quickly became best friends, and our parents soon formed a social club with other church parents called ‘The Skyline Club’ and weekly meetings took place in our garage.  At this time, I was already playing the organ for the church choir and so was asked by some of the parents to teach their children. Nora became one of my students but she wasn’t interested in learning, and I wasn’t interested in teaching her coz, as teenagers,  time was valuable and we would rather talk about…stuff.  We also preferred to rehearse our own choreographed dances for no particular event other than our own concerts in my garage with ourselves as the audience lol.  So her parents would drop her off to my place and the two of us would use the $20 that her mum gave me for lesson fees and walk to the Dawson Rd shops to buy lollies.

My sista-ship with Nora spans a good 26 years, she remains one my oldest and dearest friends.  In our lil’ church clique (there’s 4 of us), she was the quiet one, smart and wholly dedicated to the Spice Girls lol. Her smile only reserved for those who mattered. One of her standout features is what I could only (at that time) describe as this incomprehensible sense of dress style.  I say this, because I was a conservative dresser – no miniskirts for me (except for my school uniform), or colourful/kaleidoscope-y type of clothes, with abstract hemlines and shoes that I can’t even believe stores would dare sell.  I was too plain and simple to even wear stuff like that. But Nora – dayum, that girl had her own style, and a lot of her attire were clothes that she altered because she didn’t want to look like everyone else.  Seriously, wearing her high school uniform must’ve been painful for her.  As we grew older, Nora’s dress style became more pronounced, her confidence in her own dress sense and her own individuality was clear to see, and of course by then, I was used to her style.  But that still didn’t stop me from asking her so many times “what the hell have you got on girrrrlll?”  I swear, Nora wore the ‘school-uniform’ look to her classes at Uni before Britney Spears did on MTV (but with knee-high blue doc martens lol).

I wanted to talk about Nora today because, to me, her journey as a young woman who dressed to please herself and no one else is something I really admire, and then to be able to take that attitude to life and build a business on it is even more awesome.  Today, Nora Swann is a smart and savvy entrepreneur based in Auckland NZ as founder of Kila’s Style.   In the few short years since she decided to make her passion for fashion a useful tool for young Pacific women (and men!), Nora has had to overcome  and consequently achieve many of her personal goals in order to make her business venture a successful one. I never thought I would see the day when Nora would walk on to a stage and host an event, or even promote herself and her services – because if there’s one thing I know about her, is that she shies away from the spotlight – and yet here she was last December in Melbourne, rocking that stage and wowing her audience.

Seeing my girl in her element, doing what she loves as a career and not just a hobby really inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing.  So, if you’re reading this and Nora’s journey resonates with you – check her out here on her blog:  and on Facebook (Nora Swann): and (Kila’s Style):

Ia manuia xx

Nora (right side with the cowboy boots) with her Kila’s Style models – made up of volunteers from the Melbourne Pacific community. Nora’s Up-Styling segment at the BridgingWorx DARE2DREAM festival 2015 was a huge success.
Nora Swann – Fashion Stylist (photo courtesy of Nora’s Facebook page)