Category Archives: Designer Profile

Selfdom 101: A Journey to Self-Love Through Fashion

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.”

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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

Learning Self-Love

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

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.*

Jaye Applewaite: From Civil Engineer to Wedding Dress Designer

It’s hard to believe that Jaye Applewaite only started designing about two years ago. I first saw and photographed her work back in December 2014  at Pomp Wknd and I don’t think it occurred to me just how new she was to the scene. 

At that time, her focus was on floral headpieces and accessories but some bridal pieces crept in under her then social media alias Jazz Applewhite.

Since then her dresses have been featured in Living Barbados,  brideLIFE and Caribbean Zing, LIAT’s in-flight magazine. She had also shown at the Pompasette Brunch Party.

Jaye and I recently had a chat via email and as it turns out,  she was working in an unrelated field when she started making dresses.

Here’s the first part of her journey in her own words.

I was working full time as a Civil Engineer, and the local engineering industry wasn’t doing well. I realised I needed another source of income.  Also, generally I was beginning to feel quite unhappy about my career, there was no passion, nor motivation. I was feeling very unfulfilled, and my future in engineering looked quite bleak and boring. I’m a very creative person and, I love working with my hands, and I love all things weddings and lifestyle. After much thought, I decided I would love to create a wedding and lifestyle empire, starting with custom-designed wedding dresses.

It was quite a risk, since I had no formal training in sewing nor fashion before, I had never sewn anything before for myself furthermore for anyone. But I was confident that I could get it done. So, I created a small collection of dresses, dusted off my camera and took some beautiful photos with a model. I posted the photos on social media and within a month I had booked my first bride!

Jaye loves working with high-quality lace and adding intricate beadwork using pearls, crystals and rhinestones. She takes great care in applying each piece of lace by hand to create unique, gorgeous designs.

She also makes sure each dress is a perfect fit for her brides.

“When I design for a bride I am inspired by her emotion and overall vision for her wedding day. During consultations with my brides, I find out what they like, their personal style and their vision for their wedding day, and then I take everything that they have told me and create a design that is perfect for them and their big day!  The lace is also very inspiring, as each piece is applied by hand the dress design process evolves as the lace is applied. The unique designs created by the lace is always different. Each dress is custom made for the bride, and as such I don’t make the same design twice since each bride is unique and each wedding is unique,” she says.

 

It is obvious that Jaye enjoys the dressmaking process, from consultation through to the final fitting.

“Couture dress design is an evolving process, each gown takes hours of hand-work applying lace appliques and beadwork.  My dresses are handmade works of art, and it’s always exciting for the bride and me to see what the dress evolves into! And then there is dress collection! Dress collection is always exciting, the look on some of their faces, priceless!! It truly is an amazing process and definitely the best part of my business!” she says.

Not just dresses

Jaye doesn’t only offer dresses; veils, garters, and jewellery are also available.  The veils range from bird-cage veils to long breath-taking cathedral veils and the jewellery is made of 18K gold- filled chain and components as well as semi-precious gems and freshwater pearls.

She also provides styling and dressing services.

“The dressing service is very popular. So far all my brides have requested that I be there when they are getting ready to help them dress,” she tells InMyWardrobe.

I asked Jaye about some the trends in bridal wear in Barbados and she revealed that many women travel to North America to buy their dresses.  A-line and mermaid silhouettes are all the rage and most blushing brides still prefer traditional white.

If you want something different, Jaye’s your girl.

“My style is not very traditional, nor do I follow the popular trends here.  I like a variety of styles, and I find inspiration in many things, and that’s reflected in my designs. My designs are sexy, romantic, dramatic, and whimsical. I like for the dresses to have an effortless feel, much like light and air.”

The young designer has lots more in store for her wedding and lifestyle brand.

“I have only developed the custom-designed wedding dress product; this is a small aspect of the overall brand vision that I have. Other bridal products I will be creating are ready-to wear wedding dresses, getting ready clothing, and bridal accessories. I also have to start the lifestyle aspect of the brand that will include resort style clothing, accessories and jewellery. Not to mention the marketing and promotion aspect of the brand that still has to be developed. It’s an exciting journey ahead and I am looking forward to expanding and building my brand,” she says.

We can’t wait to see what’s next!

Shop by Jahna: Wooden Jewellery Finished to Perfection

You probably won’t look at plywood in the same way again after you’ve seen and held  Shop by Jahna’s earrings and necklaces.

The brand has only been on the market since January but this is no timid entry.   Designer Jahna Agard’s debut line – the  Empress Collection – is made up of pieces  that are finished to perfection, ultra light and ideal for the style conscious woman looking for something new.

empress collection, jahna agard

Jahna was trained in both Garment Making and Interior Decorating but she chose jewellery as a starting point.

“I knew that I wanted to do something that would be close to my heart, something that I would be passionate about. After lots of thinking and such I said I wanted to go a different route and I wanted to take the jewellery route as opposed to starting with clothes,” she says.

Jahna Agard, empress collection

Inspiration

Citing her inspiration as “art, style and life”, Jahna took her time getting to know her materials, playing with different shapes and fine-tuning her skills.

“If you look around just in your environment there’s a lot of things that can inspire you. for me i would say seeing different shapes and putting different shapes together to bring something to life,” she says.

Jahna Agard, empress collection

The young designer has produced a line that reflects her personal style. However,  Shop by Jahna also has broad appeal.

“I think there is a piece of me in each design,  in that i have a very simple aesthetic. I’m not fancy fancy. I believe in being simple but being bold. I find people like to do a lot but sometimes you don’t need all of that to just make a statement, ” Jahna says.

Target Customer

Shop by Jahna is targeting the woman who wants to be unique.

“I feel so much joy when i hear people say wow that is  really unique. I like that because I know that is who I’m targeting . . . person with a willingness to express themselves artistically, ” she says.

The Empress Collection features statement necklaces and earrings in solid black and black and gold – symbols of strength and power.

The local market jewellery may be getting saturated but Jahna tells InMyWardrobe she is pleased with the reception to her line. She believes there’s space for everyone.

“Once you know who your target is and you know which direction you’re going in,  I believe everybody can survive. The vision I have may not be the vision another jewellery designer may have. People want variety,” she says.

Jahna’s plans for the rest of the year include learning about the medium and industry in  which she is working. She also wants to build regional connections and maybe even expand into bags.

We at InMyWardrobe can’t wait to see what she does next!

If you want your Shop by Jahna piece, check her out on Instagram.  (Give her at least three days to finish your item.)