S06E06: Nora Swann, Director of Nora Swann LTD, New Zealand 

I grew up in a traditional Pacific Island household, I went to church and I pushed the boundaries with my outfits. I always got in trouble from my mom. Too short, too revealing, too much cleavage, not enough clothing. But I wasn’t trying to challenge my mom. I just really loved fashion, not knowing that I was doing things that no one else done. And my mom is really traditional and she didn’t want people to talk. 

nora swann

Today’s episode is with a New Zealand-born Samoan entrepreneur, Nora Swann. 

As the Director for Nora Swann LTD, Nora started many fashion initiatives from founding the largest high-end fashion show for the Pacific people in New Zealand (Pacific Fusion Fashion Show) to leading New Zealand’s first Pasifika modelling agency, Swann Modelling Agency. 

She started a wellness programme, Dressed In Confidence, supported by New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development and Ministry for Pacific Peoples to empower Pasifika people to learn about positive body image, professional styling and self-confidence.

In other words, she is helping to keep the Pacific fashion story alive. 

nora swann new zealand pacific fashion
Nora says, “I am inspired by people who are freely living their lives, not living under a facade.”

Her company further expanded its operations by adapting to more new technology during the pandemic. The organisation now offers an online personal styling service. 

Nora is empowering the Pacific people specifically through fashion. Her innovative approach to Pasifika’s engagement in the fashion industry has spanned community empowerment, individual creative expression, and youth development.

When I first started in business, I actually stayed working in my job, full-time job for about four years, and I just grew my business. When I came home from work, I was working, I was hustling, trying to grow my business, and as the business grew, then my full-time job turned to a part-time. But it was very lonely. I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought, you know what? I was given this one opportunity. I won a competition, a big competition here in New Zealand, and that was my one opportunity. Go for it and see where it takes me. 

To say that Nora has had a big year in business is an understatement. She has been making waves in the fashion scene.

In January, she was recognized by the New York City Journal as a ‘top personality disrupting the fashion industry in 2022’.

In March, she was featured in the International Entrepreneurs Herald followed by another feature story in Forbes Monaco in August

Nora was also a successful applicant for the East-West Centre’s 2022 Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminar in Oahu Hawaii and received a partial scholarship to represent New Zealand along with 12 other women from USA, Asia and the Pacific.

She won the Kanumea Afine Loto Toa -Pacific Woman in Business – Pacific Business Trust.

The reaction of people’s on their faces was like, the audacity of this person to come in here. as a Pacific person and say that they wanna do this and that. It’s never been done before. I never knew that [I thought] that I was creating all these events that were pioneering events. I did not know that. I just thought I was growing my business. And so I came up against so many challenges, but I was following my passion ‘cause I love fashion. 

On a more personal level, she believes in “staying authentic to who I am and what I believe in as a Pacific woman in an industry that tends to depict unrealistic fashion and beauty standards is one of my proudest achievements.” 

She remarks that it has not been easy going against the grain because people are used to doing and seeing things in a certain light so her journey has been one of courage, hope, and of planting the seed of ‘what could be’. 

Nora believes that “leading a life that reflects what’s important to me both personally and professionally has been my focus as I’ve grown my business in the fashion industry.”

She loves old-school music as well as pop and island music. “I try and read books, I find I generally read them when I travel. I like reading autobiographies, especially by women and I love reading books that keep me connected to God.”

Nora’s favourite quote is – A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.

In today’s episode, she talks about being a minority in the fashion industry as fashion was never a path for the Pasifika people. Nora also talks about pioneering fashion shows and having an unbridled passion for dressing up in her own style.

When she works with her clients today as a fashion stylist, she is helping them find their personal style so that they are true to themselves. 

Connect with her: 



If you have enjoyed today’s episode, please review and subscribe to the podcast on your favourite podcast app. Or share this episode with a friend.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Redbox Studio.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *