Hats off to Mom! - Matriarch’s illness and death spur rookie entrepreneur’s leap of faith
Grief channelled into creativity is the story behind Woman of Virtue (W.V.Fashion), a local, handmade hat business poised to soar to new heights.
Shara Anderson-Grant was born to her teenage mother more than three decades ago, and the events of her mom’s life shaped much of whom she is today.
“Years ago, she met in an accident and she got sick. She was paralysed for most of her life, and my creativity developed from carrying her to learn something with her hands. I had to carry her up three flights of stairs at Holy Childhood [High School],” she recalled.
Her mother, unknown to her, would often visit the Abilities Foundation to cook for the staff and students.
When she died in December 2018, Anderson-Grant decided to raise funds for the kitchen unit at the foundation, which offers vocational education and training to people with disabilities.
“The Lord said, ‘What is in your hands?’” she recalled.
The marketing officer was often encouraged to leave her nine-to-five for the creative industry.
In her testimonial, she spoke of how she often interpreted the encouragement as an insult as it was her firm belief that she could have both.
Anderson-Grant never yielded to the encouragement, though not fully, until last September.
ENCOURAGED BY BOSS
Her boss handed her a flyer inviting applications for Design Fusion 2019, a specialised development programme spearheaded by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
“When my boss gave me, I thought it was a trick. I thought a restructuring exercise was coming and he was ushering me out nicely,” the 41-year-old said to a burst of laughter from the audience at the closing ceremony and exhibition held at the corporation’s Incubator & Resource Centre on Marcus Garvey Drive yesterday.
She did not have all that was required of her, but her boss insisted that she send in the application.
Of the more than 160 applicants, she emerged successful, and on January 29, she was one of 24 creatives who were awarded certificates of completion.
Sessions were held in the week, during work time, and the most heartening words she needed to hear came from her boss – “Don’t worry ‘bout it, I’ll sort it out.”
“We got the value of exposure. I am a marketing professional, and when we pay for booths and things like those, it’s expensive. What JBDC has offered us is a platform where we don’t have to pay for it,” she told The Gleaner.
“It has empowered me in a way that I can be extremely creative to realise that there is something within me that I can share. The essence of the brand is to have presence.”
Bridgette Prendergast-Francis, her friend and model for her collection, is “exceptionally proud” of the bold move that Anderson-Grant made.
“To know that it started out because of her mom who was in an accident many years ago, and now that her mom has gone, it is something that she can carry on in her memory,” she said.
The name of the collection Anderson-Grant had on display, Ocean Deep, depicts the faith of her mother.
“She was sick for 30 years, and it was really a faith walk, even until her death,” the creative director said.