By GLORIA BAUAI
SHIRLEY Lang, 51, is what they call in some sports, an all-rounder.
She is a mother to six children, grandmother to two youngsters, a businesswoman running family businesses, a sportswoman who has represented the country.
Her parents are from Manus and Morobe. Shirley grew up at the Papuan Compound, attending the Milford Haven Primary School, then Lae High School (now Lae Secondary) from 1983 to 1986. She attended the Lae School of Technology (now Lae Polytech Institute) in 1987 for a year-long basic secretarial course.
She began working in 1988.
“ Everyone is into tailoring but the product must be of top quality so customers will return for more. Customer satisfaction, at the end of the day, is the key.”
Her involvement in sports saw her representing PNG in softball as the team captain. She is currently the president of the Lae Netball Association.
The family business runs a hire-car operation, provides logistical support, offers a catering service on request and operates a boat service.
Two years ago, Shirley also started Shirls Tailoring, sewing clothes for men and women.
She engages her cousin sister Janet Wata, a professional seamstress, and her aunt Agnes Serupi, to sew clothes ranging from men’s shirts to women’s meri kolos.
She understands the intense competition in the clothing businesses with many women involved in it. But her secret is in the quality.
“Everyone is into tailoring but the end product must be of top quality so customers will return for more. I learnt this key fact when I was working with a construction company. Customer satisfaction, at the end of the day, is the key.”
She uses fabrics designed by local fashion brands such as Lavagirl by Annette Sete because of just that – quality.
Shirls Tailoring attracts many customers given her wide network in Lae.
“My family relation and my network through work and sports has given me a good customer-base. I also tell my sister and seamstress Janet to sew with her heart because it will connect with the customer.”
Shirley’s tailoring business started at her family home at Sixth Street in Lae. It later moved its sales center out of the house to a kiosk at Papindo in Top Town.
The sacrifice she made to get an industrial machine, a heavy-duty machine, three regular (electric) machines and an over-locker has paid off. In a day, they can produce 15 to 20 blouses.
“This business complements the extra expense lifestyle of PNG people. If there is a death, we have to contribute. This additional income caters for that.
“Also in a way, I support my family by creating employment for them through this. Janet does tailoring, my brother-in-law looks after the fleet, my son takes care of catering, another looks after the kiosk and my brother runs the boat while I oversee all operations.”
With her skills in public relations, Janet focuses on the overall managing of the business, administration and marketing.
She has four more years before reaching 55 which she regards as the retirement age. She is preparing for that by putting everything in order before she finally hangs up the boot, so to speak. Indeed an all-rounder.