Lavish by Caro
Every university graduate’s dream is to land a job in their field of study. After three to five years at the tertiary level, sitting exams, writing essays, studying in the wee hours of the night, being sleep-deprived and strapped for cash, the goal is to walk into a post that affords you the opportunity to live comfortably. But that’s indeed a graduate’s dream. In reality, some university graduates have to settle. For 25-year-old Carolyn Barnes, that was her fate.
After completing her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, with a minor in International Business in May 2017, Carolyn left the island for the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Programme in the United States. When she returned in late September she started the job-hunting process. After numerous applications and zero-success, Carolyn decided to settle for the first opportunity that came her way. In October 2017, she started working at Sutherland Global Services (Business Process Outsourcing). But that was short-lived, lasting for a week and a half. The following month, she started working as a marketing assistant. But with only a semblance of career alignment, Barnes was searching for purpose. Her quest led her to develop her brand – Lavish By Caro.
Stitching and hemming and ripping seams apart wasn’t an innate talent for Barnes, though. Although the St Elizabeth Technical High School alumna can boast after receiving the top award among her peers for her performance in CSEC clothing and textile in 2010, her skill was something she developed over time.
“I like to sew. I used to sew at home. But it was just cushions and runners,” Carolyn said. With a Level 1 NCTVET certificate in garment construction and a Grade 2 in clothing and textile at O-Levels, her main focus at that time was completing her A-Level subjects and matriculating to the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). It wasn’t until her final year at UTech that she decided to oil the machine and start sewing again.
“At the point where I was about to graduate, I asked myself what I should do in case I didn’t land a job immediately,” she shared. From that conversation with herself, she decided to purchase a sewing machine and put her skills to the test. In 2018, she purchased the sewing machine. “I made the first outfit for myself. And I was like, I think I’m good at this,” Her first client would come in the form of a friend who asked her, “Would you make something for me and how much would you charge?” she shared.
The newbie had to overcome some level of self-doubt before reaching where she is now.
“I normally tell them (clients) that I’m just starting out. I never used to make clothes before, just household items. So I can try, but it probably won’t come out as perfect as you’d like,” Carolyn said.
After the success from her first client, who gave her commendations, Carolyn said that she felt more confident in developing and honing her craft. “I don’t know why I have self-doubt and I have a lot of people supporting me. I have a lot of people saying ‘You can do it. Why are you doubting yourself?’” Barnes said. She later attributed some of her self-doubts to not having formal training.
Soon she will be enrolling in short courses in fashion designing and/or garment construction and manufacturing at the HEART Trust/NTA Garmex Academy. Still learning the ropes and ironing out the kinks, the seamstress said that the process has taught her quite a few valuable life lessons.“I’m not going to learn everything in one go. I think when it comes to fashion designing, it’s a process. You have different steps that you have to take.” She added, “You have to be patient. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, which no one knows, but I always seem to correct it before it’s too late.”