Creative designer and director Lautofa Tulagalua thanked God, his friends and his family when he accepted the People’s Choice Award at Retail NZ’s Top Shop awards at the SkyCity complex in Auckland last night.
He said he was thrilled to be the first retailer from Samoa to win the award, saying he believed he was also the first Pacific Islander.
“My family is very proud. Everyone is proud.”
House of Décor was also runner up in the Small/Single Store category, sponsored by Retail NZ.
Tulagalua opened House of Décor in 2002 in Onehunga Mall. He and his 10 sisters run the business together, creating exciting floral displays for weddings, family functions and public events like the Samoan stage at the Pasifika festival.
They started doing events for the New Zealand government 12 years ago, and are privately booked up until 2020.
Tulagalua says House of Décor stands out because it is the only business doing Pacific Island-style décor using tapa and fine mats. He believes he has the biggest collection of these mats in the world, and does all the business' design work himself.
His favourite recent event was a South African wedding at St Matthews' church in Auckland city: "The whole aisle was trees. In fact, the whole church was trees."
More and more customers are seeking a fusion of Pacific Island and American-style décor, Tulagalua says. He describes American décor as having “a double-wow factor.”
“Double-wow. That’s what I do.”