10 Questions with Cherise Harris of Wilhelmina Heart
Over the summer one of the things that caught my eye was a prototype bag displayed by Wilhelmina Heart at the Pompasette Pop-up. It had a colourful mango print, multiple compartments despite its small size and high-quality trimmings.
The bags are now available for purchase and I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce you to the brand and its founder, Cherise Harris.
It’s also the perfect kick-off to the “10 Questions With… ” segment on the blog. If you are in any area of the style and fashion industry and you want to be featured, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could be a model, clothing or accessory designer, stylist or fashion photographer. If you’re involved in fashion, I want to know about you.
Now on to the fabulousness that is Wilhelmina Heart.
1. How did Wilhelmina Heart get started?
I had the idea a few years ago actually, originally launching in 2014. I am an illustrator and my desire was to see my art on products. The name Wilhelmina is my mother’s middle name, so it had the great unique quality I was looking for, but was also meaningful to me. At the time I was hand making everything, but I also had hopes of pursuing a Masters degree, and I realised that it wasn’t the right time for me.
Since then I studied overseas and then I got married, so I feel like now is the time to revisit this idea and pursue this using everything I have learned. We re-launched over the summer with bigger and better ideas. My focus has been on the design process, and we have been working with local and overseas manufacturers to bring the ideas from design to final product.
2. What are some of the products you offer?
Currently, we offer hair accessories and bags, specifically our satin head ties and our first bag design, a mango print convertible crossbody/ wristlet bag.
3. Who is the Wilhelmina Heart target customer?
Our customers are fun at heart and love colour and patterns. They are either looking for that unique accessory to add a pop of colour to their outfit, or looking to mix patterns and colours. They love to express themselves through their fashion choices.
4. Do you design your own fabrics?
Yes, I design all our fabrics which are then custom printed to be manufactured into our products. Our design aesthetic is very Caribbean oriented. Taking local elements like mangos and green monkeys, and using them in patterns and applying them to products that you may not often see them on.
5. What inspired the convertible crossbody/wristlet bag?
We were making a decision on what would be the best bag to launch first. At the time it was soon Crop Over, and I wanted to design something that would make a great ‘fete bag’. It had to be neat, but at the same time we love compartments and having a space for everything. It also had to be versatile, for those who like to be hands free with a long strap, or hands free with a wrist strap. Our bag is leather and water repellent canvas. It can hold your phone, keys, make-up and has a zip pocket for some cash, and it’s the perfect bag for a party, night out, or if you’re traveling light while shopping.
6. How can we get one in our wardrobes?
Currently, you can order through email at email@example.com, or WhatsApp 846 4537. If you’re interested in seeing the bag before purchase, you can contact us to arrange that as well or follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see where we will be next as we are hoping to be at local farmers markets as Christmas nears. Also look out for the launch of our website in November, at which point you will be able to order online worldwide.
7. Are there plans for other bag designs?
Yes, we have many ideas in our vault. For this bag, in particular, we want to bring it out in various colours and patterns. We also have plans for larger bag designs as well.
8. What motivates you as an accessory designer?
My background is as an illustrator, and my inspiration for my work has always been combining storytelling and the flora and fauna of Barbados and the Caribbean. Bringing these ideas to the products excites me, and I’m always looking forward to bringing something fresh and seeing how the final product will look and how our customers will respond.
9. How does your personal style influence your designs?
I love colour and pattern, but I also love function, and so I try to bring this combination to my designs. I want to make accessories that can hold what you need or have the function you want, while exciting you and allowing you to express yourself through your fashion.
10. Where do you see Wilhelmina Heart in another five years?
In another five years, I see Wilhelmina Heart expanding our list of products, as well as our reach of customers. We aim to continue learning and growing, and my biggest dream is for us to be a brand synonymous with quality and the Caribbean, representing a fun and contemporary Caribbean aesthetic.