Interview with Selma Belle |18 May 2021
From corporate manager to walking on the brighter side of life
After a successful career in the offshore sector which spanned across a decade, Selma Belle decided to literally and figuratively walk on the brighter side of life with her new venture, Sunshine & Rainbow.
Sunshine & Rainbow is a one-woman led micro business that sells and makes handmade and unique treasures which are, according to its Instagram bio, ‘inspired by happiness’.
Colourful and energetic, Sunshine & Rainbow also aims to promote all things local as well as bring in some rare treasures from across the world, the latter of which is among Sunshine & Rainbow’s future plans.
Selma started this small venture in December 2020 and she notes that Sunshine & Rainbow is very much in its starting phase.
Her most popular items presently are locally-sourced and handmade sak vakwa which she customises and bedazzles with sequins, shells and pompoms and other accessories to her clients’ tastes.
The bags are handmade by a couple of ladies in the south of Mahé who have perfected the art of vakwa making.
“The idea for Sunshine & Rainbow was around for a while but I did not do it because I was working in the financial industry for 13 years. I was a corporate manager for a corporate service provider and that in itself takes a lot of time,” Selma told Seychelles NATION.
Selma explained that she joined her brother’s business after completing her studies. Little did she know back then that she would end up doing an office job for the next 13 years. Chuckling, she adds that she never actually studied business, but had instead pursued a degree in visual communications at the Asian Academy of Film & Television in India.
“When I came back, I looked around at different places such as SBC ‒ I was still deciding on whether I should stay in Seychelles or go abroad because my mum paid for my studies so I was not bonded to the government. My brother advised me to join his company instead of wasting time while I was deciding what to do and to gain some experience.”
“I ended up staying for over a decade. I don’t regret a minute of it, I learned so much and I am who I am today because of the experiences I had. I got to manage people and make decisions but I felt that it was time for me to go back to my creative side,” noted Selma.
“I have always liked doing creative things. When I was young I would make little bead necklaces for my friends, I would try and create different things, whatever inspired me at that moment. It was during our first lockdown last year, with everybody stuck at home, that I started wondering whether I wanted to continue in the financial services industry or start doing something different,” she added.
With twin toddlers on her hand, Selma also considered taking up a career which would give her more time to spend with her children.
“I took a little time reflecting around the lockdown and I concluded that it was time for me to start doing my own things. To finally take the step of doing what I always wanted to do, not have an office job. It definitely would not have been possible without the full support of my husband.
“When I finally left the financial services sector, some unexpected offers came about and I took one in retail. Completely new, I thought it would be a great experience to learn and get out of my comfort zone.
Sunshine & Rainbow started out in December 2020 with Selma curating and putting together local products in beautiful Christmas hampers – in an empty office that her other brother was generous enough to help her out with. “Without him I wouldn’t have been able to have had my own little space to do my creations,” reflected Selma.
“These hampers solely comprised items that were made in Seychelles – from soaps to candles to jams and pickles. I got people who make sweets and cookies to collaborate with. My mum helped me out with masks. One sister-in-law brought me pickles and jams, while the other sister-in-law kept me watered and fed as I packed hampers late into the night. It was just about promoting different artisans and small businesses in Seychelles and that went really well,” remarked Selma.
“My family helped me out loads, but when we sat down in January and did all the sums, I had spent more money than I had made ‒ I had fun and I learnt a lot though, so it wasn’t a complete loss.”
In March this year, Selma customised her first vakwa bag for a close friend and her business started growing from strength to strength thanks to word of mouth and Instagram.
“I have been busy with the customised bags but there are so much more I want to do and create. It has been something I always wanted to do and I’m now finally able to.”
With ambitious plans for the future ahead, Selma is not only hoping to grow her business to be more than just a one-woman show, but she is also looking to promote local entrepreneurs and their products that have often been overlooked in lieu of imported goods.
Sunshine & Rainbow can be found on Instagram under the handle @sunshinerainbowsez.
The accompanying photographs show some of Selma’s creations.