Whānau Ora Navigator, Karaat Ngateina Reay not only does amazing in her role at Pacific Homecare, but her skills extend far into the fashion industry! Her business, DaniFai Reay Pacific Wear, incorporates hand-painted creations into garments to create “authentic, genuine designs…they are all one-off pieces.”
Born in paradise, a.k.a, Rarotonga, Karaat’s Mum is from the tropical wonderland of Mangaia and her Dad is from the land of the beautiful black pearl, Manihiki. Raised in Ponsonby, Auckland, Karaat recounts her days when her passion for fashion began.
At 12-years-old, she grabbed her scissors and hemmed them to her liking. Her grandma was a talented seamstress herself, so it was only natural for Karaat to have that skill. When looking back, Karaat said her grandma originally didn’t like her cutting up her uniform but changed her mind when she saw how happy it made her. These memories bring immense joy to Karaat. Not only does it bring her back to the beginning of her seamstress journey, but it has shown how far her talent has led her. From tailoring her dress for school to now creating dresses for fashion shows, the sky is the limit for Karaat!
Karaat and her husband, Gary, founded DaniFai Reay Pacific Wear in 2020. Here, Karaat is the designer of the garments and Gary is the artist, who paints artwork onto each garment. The name, DaniFai was named after both Karaat’s daughters, Danielle and the late, Faith. Each Sunday, they would be the best dressed at church, as their Mum was creating their clothing! From then till now, their garments made their mark in fashion shows and pageants. Two of their dresses won best dressed for Miss Cook Islands NZ in 2017 and 2019! Amongst them all, Karaat says her most famous pieces are her Tahitian wear, where she emphasizes the beauty of the Tahitian Mumu.
She pours a ton of love into each garment. If a customer wants a specific design, all they have to do is send a photo of it and she’s ready to go. She then adjusts them to fit her original designs and begins the magic. It all comes down to “understanding what the client wants and catering to what they need.” A girl boss! Every design is different. Some are for individuals, some for groups, you’ll never get the same piece as another client. This makes every garment from her a rarity. It’s also a sustainable choice for Karaat, as she can recycle certain household items for different clothing.
“[Being a designer] You have your bad days and you have your good days…creating individual one-off pieces and wanting to create something that no one else has” is something that Karaat loves about being a fashion designer. She says she can’t do it all without her clients. As they are her inspiration, getting to know them and hearing their stories is what helps her create beautiful garments for them.
She mentioned that working with PHC has helped her share her creativity in this area. “Being a designer is my hobby and that’s something you appreciate more when you’re not there every day.” Saying that working at PHC has given her so many ideas in her creativeness to draw on once she gets home.
One thing that plays a huge role in Karaat’s originality is that she incorporates heaven, land and sea in each garment. Here, we have an example of that – this is a dress that commemorates the famous Aitutaki lagoon. The lush blue colour incorporates the sea, while the designs of the birds and trees represent heaven and land. Unique, special, kare atu.
Every year, Karaat expresses the core values of love, care and professionalism through her designs. Annually, she makes specific garments to sell. All proceeds from these are donated to the Child Cancer Foundation in memory of her beautiful daughter, Faith. In 2021, Karaat created awesome scrunchies and this year she has made bucket hats. A staple for the kiwi sun!
Karaat recently spent part of her weekends teaching Fia Ola Coordinator, Ainise, how to sew. This then ended with Ainise being an expert and putting an entire dress together with little to no help. We hear the next class will have Ainise learning how to cut her very own dress from a pattern (template of a garment). How exciting!
These past couple of years have been a great time for Karaat’s creative abilities to shine. We wish her all the success in the days to come!
Check out DaniFai Reay Pacific Wear on Facebook by clicking the link: https://bit.ly/3FRKzUd