Cultured by Zhané is just a seven-month-old brand but already it is catching the attention of trendsetting fashionistas both in Barbados and the Caribbean. The neck pieces, which go up to ten strands, have been adding dramatic flair to outfits and speaking volumes about the personalities of the wearers. The necklaces are most popular but the line also includes headbands and belts, all designed by dancer/ pageant queen/entrepreneur Zhané Padmore and made from bold, brightly coloured wax and foil prints on mainly cotton and twill.
What’s the story behind the brand? Well, I sat down with Zhané recently and I got the details. She shared how she was inspired by a necklace she saw online and attempted to make one for herself. A friend saw it and wanted one and that kicked things into gear. That was in 2015 and Zhané wasn’t quite ready to start the business.
“I was juggling school and dance and I’m into pageantry. I was doing a pageant then so I didn’t really want to focus on creating it into a business as yet but I had my plan there and I said to myself after I graduate I can really take this seriously. So it’s only in January that I decided to start the business,” she says.
As for the name, Zhané wanted something easy on the tongue and catchy.
“I originally didn’t want to add my name to it, I wanted to leave it as “Cultured.” However, after realising that my name is unique enough and would distinguish the brand even more, at last minute I decided to add “by Zhané”. Also, “Cultured” means being artistic, polished, sophisticated and educated, and the type of customers I wish to attract embody these traits.”
Zhané’s personal style has factored into the brand.
“I would say I’m trendy but I like to add my personal style to it so I love bright colours and I love prints. Say for instance I wear a plain top, I would look for a printed bottom or vice versa. I wouldn’t say I’m definitely outgoing as in I’m not gonna wear something that’s gonna be too outstanding but I definitely like to add my own li’l umph to an outfit,” she says.
Unsurprisingly, Zhané ’s typical customers are those who like to think outside the box; including some who are quite comfortable giving her almost a free hand with their pieces.
“I’ve had customers that [when] they see the prints, they get overwhelmed …. I let them select the prints that they like then I would deal with everything else after that but in the event that they don’t know what they want, say they like a print and they want me to incorporate other prints that would complement it and they just leave it up to me, I get really creative.
“The fact that they’re willing to give me that leverage, I think that’s what stands out for me. I love those customers,” she notes with a smile.
Asked what her plan was for Cultured by Zhané , the designer said she wants to see it going internationally.
“There’s a market internationally and I’ve already had people regionally asking me for orders. I had some friends in our Caribbean islands that they saw it, they loved it, they came down here, or had contacts down here and they would ask me to send it up to them,” she says.
As for how these necklaces should be worn . . .
“Because it’s a statement necklace . . . go with a simple but effective outfit. You want something that’s going to flatter you and that’s going to showcase the necklace. You obviously don’t want to have to clash if you have a multi-print necklace; you don’t want to wear it with other prints unless they complement each other,” Zhané advises.
Check out Cultured by Zhané’on Instagram and email orders to firstname.lastname@example.org.