Face of the day

The 28-year-old from Manurewa, South Auckland, is behind a new online shoe business dubbed Staavias. Photo / Supplied
The 28-year-old from Manurewa, South Auckland, is behind a new online shoe business dubbed Staavias. Photo / Supplied

Today’s face of the day Gustavia Lui is inspiring not only because of her business success but because of her back story.

When Gustavia Lui had to tell her boss she could wear only Jandals because her feet were too big for any other shoe, it sparked an idea that would change her life.

The 28-year-old from Manurewa, South Auckland, is behind a new online shoe business dubbed Staavias.

Specifically catering to women with large and wide feet, the company makes stylish high heels and sandals in sizes 10 to 14.

Mrs Lui, who quit her full-time office job last year, has been working hard towards her new venture for the past two years.

A long-time lover of beautiful shoes, she admits she could never find a pair of heels that fitted her size 11 feet.

“They’re big, long and wide. I’ve worked in corporate and there were times I couldn’t go to work because I just didn’t have shoes.

“I’d have to … buy men’s shoes for a long time. I’ve never had more than three pairs of shoes in my life [including] my Jandals.”

Mrs Lui enrolled herself into a financial and business-help course. She travelled to a trade show in Las Vegas and later headed to New York to take part in a shoe-making course – where she made her first pair from scratch.

“I finally felt like: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m actually starting a business in footwear’. I realised I could do anything.”

Mrs Lui later travelled to China, where she went on factory tours in the hopes of securing a supplier.

She also linked up with a London-based designer who helped create her first collection.

After several setbacks with her original supplier, Mrs Lui launched Staavias in January and started selling her range.

She has sold to customers in New Zealand, Australia and America.

The mother-of-three is currently in China overlooking production work with her supplier and is now in talks with a well-known New Zealand shoe outlet about making her range available in-store.

Mrs Lui – who left school in year 11 – said her business venture was not only about empowering women who had this rare but often emotional issue, but also about making people believe that circumstance did not have to dictate their future.

“I’ve had feedback from women saying: ‘Thank you so much. It’s been years of struggling with my wide feet. It’s so depressing’.

“People think it’s an amazing idea and then they hear my history [and] say: ‘Wow’.”

On the web: www.staavias.com

– A Newspaper



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  • KGB

    Good for her I wish her every success.

    • Gustavia Lui

      Thanks KGB :)

      • KGB

        Success is hard work and hard work creates its own luck and rewards.
        Stories like yours are inspirational.
        Keep us informed and if you ever need a cheerleading team, there’s a ‘lot of love’ here.
        Go you ?

  • Wow. I love stories like this. All power to her.

    • Gustavia Lui

      Thank you Pete :)

  • MaryLou

    What a girl – worth checking out her blog.

    • Gustavia Lui

      Thank you MaryLou – hope you enjoyed it :) x

      • MaryLou

        Looking forward to hearing your name more often Gustavi!

  • Catriona

    Absolutely love this story. I’ve just checked out the website and the shoes are very stylish. Gustavia is so switched on and determined to make this work.

    • Gustavia Lui

      Thank you :) Yes totally determined xx

  • Wheninrome

    Well done to her, love hearing these stories, it is up there with the wonderful young people talked about yesterday.
    There was a “final straw” somewhere there which was the gamechanger for her. The person who gave her her first job would be part of that. A case manager job with social services probably was the icing on the cake and ultimately empowered her, maybe?

    • Gustavia Lui

      Thanks! Yes ultimately I didn’t want to live all my life working 9-5. On top of that I was so desperate for shoes, I thought why not – got nothing to lose let’s start and see how far we can go :)

  • Brian Smaller

    I too love stories like this. They lift one up.

  • Keeping Stock

    Great story – all the best with your new venture Gustavia.

    • Gustavia Lui

      Thank you Keeping Stock :)

  • kereru

    Her advice not to let your past define your future is a great encouragement to those who share similar backgrounds. Such a refreshing change from the ‘I was hard done by so society owes me’ self-justification for repeating the pattern. Well done, Gustavia – you’re one gutsy lady!

    • Gustavia Lui

      haha Thank you Kereru :)

  • Brian Dingwall

    Stories ike this should be used as case studies in our schools, as we teach our young how new wealth is created…..inspirational….

    • Gustavia Lui

      wow! you really think so? thanks man!

      • Brian Dingwall

        Congrats Gustavia; yes I put entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship right at the top of the social pecking order…..they, you that is, create all the wealth that is taxed for the state to spend, (after we’ve all squabbled over what to spend it on). And for the record, an entrepreneur is one who creates a business when he/she cannot know/forecast the demand for the new product, knows the cost but not the price, manages risks, employs people, etc. The absolute salt of the earth upon whom all others depend….

  • Jman

    She should branch out into mens shoes too. I wear a size 13 and it’s often hard to find a pair that fits as most mens shoes only go up to size 12.

    • Gustavia Lui

      Hey Jman! Yes I would love to in the near future. One thing at a time but definitely on my list ;)

  • Doc45

    The blog is a must read. Should be a compulsory case study for every school.

    • Gustavia Lui

      thanks Doc45 :)

  • Tom

    Great story. Her range reminds me of the film “Kinky boots” and I bet she gets great trade from the guys down K road!

    • Gustavia Lui

      Haha thanks Tom – getting there ;)