Abuse survivor Lynette Leota empowering women to speak up
By Anauli Karima Fai’ai
Tongan entrepreneur Lynette Leota is passionate about helping women through the tough times and reinventing themselves.
“One of the key things as Pasifika people is we can’t let other people create our narrative, we can’t let media create our narrative; we decide what it is,” she says.
She’s based in Blenheim at the top of the South Island, home to a small but thriving pacific community.
“The pace is definitely different. I came from Auckland, so it was very fast paced.”
“It was an awesome opportunity to reinvent ourselves.”
Upon moving there with her family in 2016, she launched a business called Limitless Lioness as a way to connect with and empower women.
“It’s a way of reaching women in new and innovative ways.”
“I understand what it’s like to feel disoriented, to feel not good enough, to feel worthless, and so I had to journey to overcome a lot of those things.”
Many of their experiences are relatable, having overcome her own personal demons.
“I struggled with childhood trauma from sexual abuse, and I struggled with addiction and things growing up.”
“I was in hospital twice from suicide attempts… and that came from not dealing with the sexual abuse and not having the tools to deal with it.”
It was her Christian faith that changed things for the better, and today she also serves her Marlborough community as a pastor with her husband, Afi. It’s allowed her to talk openly.
“I believe if we don’t break the code of silence, how are we gonna break this, how are we gonna break the generational cycles that are happening?”
She’s now encouraging other women to be comfortable with themselves.
“One of the main things I find, especially with women, is value – not believing themselves, not believing in who they are and what they bring to this world.”
“So I like to think of my business as the ultimate hype girl.”
Saolelagi Va’aelua started one-on-one sessions with Lynette since moving to Blenheim from Auckland six months ago.
“A lot of the lessons are from how I actually view and see myself, so a lot of the things I see are like, ‘Man, I can’t really plan a future if i’m still dealing with my own grievances’, and a lot of that stuff has to come from me first before I can give solid advice to those around me,” she says.
Lynette’s quest to help others find their self-confidence is also reinforced by her most recent venture called Lipstick Lioness, which encourages women through makeup and skincare.
“The thing I think I love about this makeup business is that I’m able to do it from anywhere, like I do it when I pick up the kids from school, just before they come out of the gates; I’m able to do a quick tutorial to share with the women and motivate them from my car.”
Lynette says it’s just the start of more good things to come.
“I wanna develop courses and programmes; I would like to create job opportunities – I’d love to have a pride of lionesses who do what I do and employ them to do it.”