Brand Ambassador: Jelena Tamate, Next of Kin
The Next of Kin Production story is one of family, the love of music, fun and strong partnerships. In this article, Kina Bank features Jelena Tamate-Uraru; owner and managing director of Next of Kin Productions and Kina Bank’s brand ambassador. She shares her journey as a businesswoman and her vision of growth for Next of Kin.
I had a double-deck tape player and my husband had a collection of tapes. That’s where it all started: the love of music, being around people and having fun – that’s what sparked everything. The founding team was a team of three; my husband, my brother-in-law and myself. My brother-in-law would set up the tape deck, my husband would play the music while I would go out and chat with everyone at the party. Our first gig was a backyard party in 1994 for a grade ten student which earned us PGK50.00. I didn’t realise how much of a business it became until much later when people called asking for music for their parties.
For us, it was all about getting the music out. It was never about making an income. As we took on more gigs, more members of our family joined the founding team forming what was then Cousins DJ. We took on a few keen young boys in our neighbourhood along Henao Drive in Port Moresby. Training them on the job to do technical set-ups and DJ at the other venues we expanded to. We’ve since continued to seek out young talent to work with us on our production projects, training mentoring them. I like working with young people; they inspire me and bring light and energy to my life. They are always willing to try something new – which is what I like to do.
Between 1997 and 2000 there was a general groove to DJ music which pushed us to buy more gear and to always push the envelope on delivery. We started out with DJ equipment and then evolved into trussing, staging, lighting, audiovisual. Our team always strive to discover new technology and use existing technology innovatively. Access to capital to purchase new technology is something we are considerate of as we grow.
We’ve been very blessed by our trusting clients and partners in the community engaging us to deliver events and projects over the years. Some highlights have included the Ice Discovered Singing Competition, delivering for Prince Charles visit to Port Moresby, the SP Sports Awards, Miss Pacific Islands Pageant PNG, and some of the major talent shows in Port Moresby.
Since launching in 2004 as Next of Kin Productions Limited, the company has enjoyed steady business growth and equally some challenges. We reinvested the income we made from our gigs in new equipment out on the market. Even with no business plan, that was a key and defining business strategy for us, reinvesting to purchase world-class and top of the market audio and visual equipment from international suppliers. Foreign exchange has been a real challenge when buying new equipment from our suppliers in Singapore. We are blessed to have the international partners we have. They would send us the equipment ahead of the payment and trust us to wire the money when we had access to foreign exchange. Now being a Kina Bank customer and partner, the challenges of accessing foreign exchange to purchase new world-class gear will be a thing of the past. With Kina Bank’s digital banking platforms, we’re banking at home but can reach the world.
My vision of growth for Next of Kin Production is expansion into the rest of PNG and the Pacific region, delivering high-quality productions with our world-class equipment. I believe that we have some of the best equipment and have the skill and capacity to deliver more than just events. I also want to establish a production school and have more girls trained and specialised in the technical aspects of events productions as well and not only events management. We currently have one female equipment specialist, Rosemary, who repairs all our gear. I’d like to see more girls like Rosemary.
I am so humbled to have been approached to represent our new local bank. Being a part of Kina Bank’s brand campaign production has been a real pleasure. I’m very proud that Kina Bank has taken over ANZ PNG and has many plans to make banking better for our people. I look forward to seeing our local bank grow to be a global bank.