Selfdom 101 was a long time in coming.
Although Charise “Reece” Parris’ first collection conveys a sense of ease and simplicity, her design journey has been more complicated.
Those gathered at Port St Charles for the most recent edition of Bimhaus saw a collection called The Bare Essentials. Reece calls it a “selfdom 101 remix of some of the basic wardrobe essentials”.
“It’s clothing that you can mix and match to create several different looks and it can also take you from day to night. I chose the basics because those are some of the main ingredients of impeccable style and versatility. Those looks were the first instalment of the collection, so yes there’s a part two,” she tells InMyWardrobe.
A Long Journey
But let’s talk about what led to this point. Reece recalls that fashion was a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Growing up with an aunt who was a seamstress, Reece helped her out and even worked on her own school uniforms.
By age 14 she was devouring fashion magazines brought home by her uncle. She sketched her favourite designs and altered some of the styles.
Yet when it came time to apply to Barbados Community College, fashion wasn’t her first or second choice.
“I had signed up to do information technology and Spanish and Italian for business and tourism. I believed that was my purpose because I loved working with computers and from studying IT at CXC level, I got to learn more about how they work and I chose foreign languages because of my wanderlust.”
But a summer job in 2009 pushed her to take a different path.
“I’d gotten a job working as an assistant web developer and it was then that I realised how much I’d hate having an office job. I was bored out of my mind. I remember I would always spend my lunch hour or spare time thinking about fashion, observing people and their style or researching fashion and it took me six weeks that summer and the day before my BCC interview to realise l signed up for the wrong course.”
Reece followed her heart and applied for the fashion programme. She was accepted but unfortunately, it was not happily ever after.
“College was no joke and the workload was insane. I was already going through so many changes that I was still trying to get accustomed to and I was not good at handling any of it. I was lost and I did not survive past my first year. I was distraught and spiralled deeper into a whirlwind of depression. I made two more attempts at completing the programme, bearing in mind that the degree programme is only offered every two years. Both times I thought to myself, yessss this is it, I’m ready, I will pass and I will graduate. I still wasn’t passing and I still didn’t graduate.”
Instead, Reece took what she learned and continued to practise at home, designing and making clothing for herself until she got her first client and started doing custom-made clothing.
Selfdom 101 is the product of Reece’s trials and journey to self-love. She recalls how she tried to change to suit other people’s idea of who she should be and what she should wear.
“Obviously, because of that I became even more misunderstood than I already was. People would always comment on how weird I am and I was literally always in defence mode trying to explain myself to people. I wanted so badly to be liked that I ended up not liking myself in the process.”
Eventually, Reece learned to accept herself and her unique style and now she wants the same for other women.
“I went through a lot of different phases and with every phase came a different fashion sense. I dressed, and still dress, to suit my mood and reflect aspects of who I am. I’m not the only one. There’s no greater feeling than just loving and expressing yourself despite what people may say or think.”
The young designer’s desire is for selfdom 101 to help women achieve freedom of expression.
“We’re not just a fashion brand we’re a lifestyle brand,” she says, noting that the aim is to cultivate spaces for women to “inspire, be inspired, create and simply be”.
Selfdom 101 is targeted at the woman who likes to make a statement.
“She’s quirky, fun, bold, an influencer just by embracing all that she is, a game changer. She’s the woman some people will try their hardest to forget but can’t.”
If that’s you, get your hands on some selfdom 101 ready-to-wear clothing, accessories and leather sandals. Just contact Reece with the design you like. Include the colour, your size and “how soon you’d like to go from seeing it online, to hanging in your closet and better yet, on you.”
*Photos and video by Reco Moore.*