Woman creates custom designed signs, drawing inspiration from her heritage

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SALT LAKE CITY — May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, and KSL-TV is celebrating businesses owned by members of this community in Utah.

A popular way some families honor their 2024 grad is by displaying a huge banner with their photo and name on it. Vania Lautaha has perfected this art in a unique way – drawing inspiration from her Samoan heritage.

It's the busy season in the office of Talimailagi Customs.

With high school graduations in full swing, Lautaha can barely keep up with the orders she's receiving.

"I kind of joke about it's like my Super Bowl, right?"

In a spare bedroom in her house, she is turning out custom designs for celebrations across the Valley.

"Most of my customers are Polynesian," Lautaha said. "I know our Polynesians will go all out and a lot of times that includes T-shirts, banners, leis, it includes backdrops like 8-foot backdrops."

She keeps her inspiration close by, her son Talimailagi, who is her only child, and the namesake of her small company that is quickly outgrowing this tiny space.

"He really is my why for everything," she said.

She isn't professionally trained in this art form. She simply discovered her own unique style, and the requests started pouring in.

"I don't use templates. I don't, it's not a cut-and-paste, like drop-it-in-a-frame type of thing," she said. "With every piece like it's, it's so personal."

While her son inspires her to keep creating, it was her late father who moved from Hawaii to Utah who lit the flame in her imagination.

One of the favorite things I like to do is Memorial programs. So every Memorial that I do now is really with him in mind," she said.

Talimailagi Customs is truly a family enterprise.

"I like to tell the story," she said.

Celebrating all of the landmark moments in life, with Lautaha's custom Polynesian flair.

"I feel like it's a blessing to be able to do what I do. And sharing, it just makes it that much more special," she said.

More than anything, Lautaha is grateful that her 13-year-old son Tali is learning the business. He helps fill orders and earns money to use toward football fees and travel expenses.

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Tamara Vaifanua


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