Shifting from a job as a Welder to a self-employed Carver was no easy decision for Rex Mae of Malaita Province, Solomon Islands.
“But it had to be done to look after my family, to ensure my children’s fees are paid and we can also meet our daily need,” says Rex.
“When I started carving I saw I made a lot more money from carving than being a welder.” Mr. Mae said, “I also liked creating my own designs and turning it into carvings, making it abit more unique.”
Mr. Mae is located in front of the Art Gallery footpath under one of the colourful tents. “In my stall I sell coconut bowl carving, baskets and fans. My wife wove the baskets and fans that I am sell in my stall.”
“My daily sales depends on visiting tourists from cruise ships or expatriates living and working in Solomon Islands or the Government Ministries who purchase for gifts.”
Although Mr. Mae has a lot of product to display, he has limited space within his tent to do so, as such, he can only bring from home daily what his tent space allows.
“I would like to expand if the rooms at the Art Gallery craft market are ready. I am thinking about getting a room for me to sell my carvings, as well as baskets and fans my wife make.”
“There are times I can make good sales and there are times I could not sell anything at all, but despite the challenges, I will never give up selling my crafts on the street. This is better than going back to my old job.”
“If the Government recognise our work and get more tourist boats to come and visit Solomon Islands more, it will be good for us every week.” It would in turn help local carvers and handicraft makers, as well as helping our local economy.