Described by peers as being an independent and ambitious woman, Analatai Fisi’iahi, a senior majoring in music from California, self-funded her college experience by designing and selling jewelry. She also has a talent in singing jazz and blues music. The people around her flock to her because of her talents and a big heart.
A pursuit in fashion
Fisi’iahi and her sister started designing and making jewelry in 2007. According to her cousin, Freddie Ika, a student development teacher, most of her sales come from her native Oakland, Calif.
Jeremay Basulgan, a senior from the Philippines studying music, bought a pair of green, red, and gold colored earrings from Fisi’iahi. She said, “They're really good at making jewelry. They are creative and personal. She calls this pair of earrings ‘SinaL’ after Sinaloa. She said that it reminds her of the sinaloa taco truck in Oakland.”
Most of her accessories come from personal collections, hobby stores, online or from swap meets. To make a piece of jewelry, it takes Fisi’iahi a few hours. She makes her jewelry with different themes depending on the season or special orders. At one point she was selling Black Panther themed earrings.
She crafts earrings and necklaces and plans to make rings in the future. She sells her merchandise primarily through social media. Fisi’iahi plans to have a website for her jewelry next year. Ultimately, she plans to open a gallery next year with her sisters.
A love for music
Having a love of music rooted deeply in her family, Fisi’iahi enjoys listening and singing jazz and hip-hop. Some of her inspirations are singers Norah Jones, Kamaiyah, Mac Dre. She also sings jazz and the blues and looks up to jazz icons like Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald.
Her family influenced her in music. Her father writes music and she and her sister sings hip-hop, reggae, R&B, gospel, and church songs.
Fisi’iahi thinks the BYUH Music Department is “awesome” because she went in not knowing the theory, history, and mechanics of music. What she knew she learned on her own. She said, “The music teachers were knowledgeable and saw I had natural talent.”
Basulgan joined the concert choir and met Fisi’iahi there. “I wasn't really keen to talk to anyone in the choir, but she approached me one time and we got along really well. We then became classmates in most of my music classes.
“She is a good singer and a mezzo-soprano. I actually love singing with her because our voices complement each other I think that's like how we complement each other well too she has a jazzy style.”
Regarding her singing talents, Ika said, “She usually did last minute singing [performances]. One time at a family reunion, she was called her up to sing. Usually, she likes to prepare way beforehand and gage the audience, but this time she had her go-to-song Rolling on the River by Tina Turner. It was fun and funny to see her sing in front of a bunch of old family members.”
A more personal side
Tiera Tuikolovatu, a junior from California majoring in elementary education, said, “I met her here at school. We just clicked because we are both from California, have a Tongan background, and had a lot of similar interests.
“There was this one time I was going through some hard times and I was feeling really down one day. In an instant, she invited me to a Boyz II Men concert on the spot. We ended up having the greatest time ever singing our hearts out and dancing to all their classic hits. She’s like the older sister I wish I had.
“She’s ambitious and a “go-getter” I look up to her greatly and all her advice she’s given me is gold. She is the definition of a ‘power-woman.’ One of the reasons I admire her most is that she’s so carefree. She knows who she is and is very proud of it. We could all be a bit more like Analatai.”
“She's goofy and funny once you get close to her,” Basulgan said. “Sometimes we'd just spend all our time laughing at everything.
“Besides being funny, she's a sweet soul. One time I was really down and it was so late at night but she suggested going downtown because she said she needed to buy something from Walmart. She did that so I could feel better. I admire her for that.”
Ika said he watched Fisi’iahi grow up. He said, “She always determined to do what she wants. She’s a go-getter and really open-minded. People are drawn to her because she’s an independent woman. She always thinks of ways to support herself.
“Our family saying is ‘humble beginnings.’ Growing up, our family didn’t have much. Her father used to do construction. She and her sister would go work with him by knocking on doors and help market the business. Few girls would do that. She would put family over anything.”