Under Heavy Mannaz
Twenty-three-year-old Kristina Godfrey, also known as the architect of bags, opted to follow her passion for the arts and create a business that is currently turning heads within the local fashion industry.
Godfrey's Heavy Mannaz bags are deemed by many as a must-have.
The young entrepreneur is a trained visual artist from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts with multidisciplinary skills in photography, printmaking, screen printing, concept development, and bag making. "I went to Edna for painting, and as the years went on, I was exposed to other forms of art," she revealed.
Heavy Mannaz is a brand which incorporates all of Godfrey's acquired skills "Screen printing happened in my final year at Edna Manley and designing products and bags are self-taught," she said.
Her enthusiasm for art began at Wolmers Girls High School. As she told Flair, "Wolmers was the first launching pad for my love for the arts. We had very vibrant teachers - whether or not you liked art, you went into the class wanting to learn how to create something." After doing her CXCs, she decided that she was going to pursue art and applied to the college without doing sixth form. "My mother was very supportive. She has always been the one to say - 'if you want to do it, then do it to the best of your ability'. It was never 'you need to do a certain job or get into a particular career'," explains Godfrey.
The idea of bag making didn't come until after leaving college. "Buck ups got me into bag making," said Godfrey. "I really wanted a bag and I had some scraps left over from previous works. My mother had a machine, so I decided to sew the bag," she recalled. To her, the bag looked horrible. However, several persons took an interest and wanted to purchase one. This motivated Godfrey to work on her newly found craft and create a business.
Heavy Mannaz was conceptualised in 2016, and the designs focus on socio-political issues and the definition of an urban space. She contributes her ideas to lecturer Omari Ra at Edna Manley who encouraged her to look beyond the surface of the many socio-political issues in Jamaica. Her designs have shed light on the Tivoli incursion, which were aesthetically captured, based on heavy research. She found numerous texts which were seen as monumental and moving, then incorporated them into the style of her bags.
Each bag has images and text from the '70s and '80s, which were reworked and placed on the bags using overlay with several screen-printing techniques. The design of the bag is a painterly approach to screen-printing.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect people to gravitate to this so much. People in Jamaica want something that is unique and handmade in Jamaica with images of our culture. Not the white sandy beach, but the urban stories," said Godfrey.
Her recent collection "West Kingston 17" features many aspects of downtown Kingston. "When you look at the bags, it is like you are looking at the shops of downtown," she explained. Bag options include knapsacks, clutches, totes, and future collections will include duffel bags.
Heavy Mannaz Bags are available online at shopheavymannaz.com, Art Stock at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and Art Connect JA at Devon House, Shop 5. Collections can be viewed on Instagram @heavymannaz. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 876-829-2825 for further details.