A Chat with Latisha King, Founder of GOME Clothing
Latisha King (pictured above) is the owner/founder of GOME Clothing. She is only twenty years old, but she has been in the design business for five years. If you ask her, she’ll tell you she “only” started taking design seriously at age 15, but that’s pretty remarkable in our books.
GOME is a unisex hoodie and sweater brand which originated from a drawing Latisha did while in a classroom at Springer Memorial Secondary School.
“I drew some very foreign/abstract letters and once I tried to pronounce it I got the word or pronunciation of GOME. I saved the paper and later referred back to it the following week.
“I showed it to my best friend at the time and she expressed how cool it looked. All the students who saw it then encouraged me to make badges/buttons with the design and so I did,” she says.
Latisha took the buttons to school the next day which so happened to be the annual Independence dress day. She pinned one of every colour on the shirt she was wearing and the batch sold out at the school gate. She now realises she was “advertising without knowing it”.
The young entrepreneur decided to try a T-shirt line next and that too was successful. By then everyone wanted to know what GOME meant and that’s when Latisha came up with the expression Graphically and Original Mind Explosion. This expression, she says came about from trying to define herself and what she wanted her brand to be about.
But let’s back up a bit. Believe it or not, there was a time when Latisha wasn’t very motivated to create. She started doing art in Second Form but disliked it because she felt she wasn’t fully able to express herself. By the time she reached Fourth Form, she was “absolutely demotivated” in class and dropped her other work to do abstract pieces.
“Once the teacher saw my abstract piece she was impressed. From this point I was encouraged to carry on with my art,” Latisha says.
Latisha is also heaving focused on customer service and the business side of things. She spends a lot of time helping her mother in her store, learning how to improve the customer experience. She also studied entrepreneurship at CAPE earning a Grade 1 in both units and placing sixth within the Caribbean. Latisha is currently majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.
Read on to hear more about Latisha’s journey and GOME Clothing.
Q: Your brand is unisex. Why did you decide to go this route?
A: When GOME started it was only female. I’d say I started off only doing female clothing because I went to an all-girls school. Once I realised how indecisive we women can be, I started doing men’s stuff. Doing male clothing also derived from the fact that many males approached me about feeling left out. Once I started male clothing and somewhat neglecting to focus on females, they too were expressing how they felt left out. As a result, I had to find ways to combine both male and female clothing. It was a bit costly at first because I was buying male pieces and female pieces rather than looking to get pieces that both males and females could wear. Once I figured that out, I then decided to stick to producing unisex clothing so the brand wasn’t making anyone feel left out.
Q: Are you satisfied with the response to GOME?
A: Honestly speaking, within the Barbados market I am not satisfied at all. This is usually the cry of most Barbadian small businesses. I’ve realised that GOME Clothing has the potential to do extremely well within the international market and that is what I will be focusing on beginning in September.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
A: I am self-motivated. I cannot say that there is anyone or anything that I look to for inspiration. I do enjoy viewing other persons’ creativity and I also watch a ton of videos for insights on certain things but other than that, I inspire myself. From young, it was instilled in me that I should be independent. Inspiration doesn’t have much to do with independence, but my persona just simply inspires itself rather than look to others people or things for inspiration.
Q: Are there any designers you look up to?
A: Directly, no. I do love the work though of many other designers but I do not look up to them I just appreciate their craft and creativity. Such brands are Pink Dolphin, Billionaire Boys Club, Bape, and DGK.
Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
A: I enjoy the stages from conceptualising a new collection to the point of marketing it. That stage of coming up with new ideas is often hard but I have learnt to appreciate it. At this stage is when creativity flows. Many different ideas come into mind and then you’re forced to think not only as the designer but as the consumer and decide which idea should be implemented. After production, which I also enjoy, comes marketing the collection. I find that I enjoy this a lot because I get to choose models and locations to photograph this new popping collection. I enjoy the experience of me with a bag full of clothing venturing around different points of the selected location to get the best possible shots of the clothing.
Q: Where do you see the brand in another five years? Do you plan to do other types of clothing?
A: The brand can be 100 times as popular as it is right now within the next five years if I can achieve all that I have planned once I am relocated outside of Barbados. I see the brand within many stores around the world, worn by celebrities and doing collaborations with the other bigger brands. Within the next five years, the brand would also be in a position that it can do many other types of clothing such as pants, dresses, shoes, hats and bathing suits.
Q. How can we get our hands on your hoodies and sweatshirts?
A: Our pieces are available in Lanterns Mall or can be delivered to your desired location. The hope within this year and the coming year is to set up a website where persons outside of Barbados can also have a hassle-free way of getting access to our clothing and having it in their hands.