First Global to give $100k to emerging designer
Garfene Grandison, Assistant Lifestyle Co-ordinator
The top three have been chosen by a panel of carefully selected adjudicators to see who will walk away with the $100,000 cash prize at this year's Collection MoDA fashion showcase at Hope Gardens.
An initiative of the First Global Bank, one lucky female designer will this year become the nation's newest emerging designer, with the dough to take her business to the next level.
The top three are Ayanna Dixon, Lubica Slovak and the fresh-faced newcomer Francesca Lake. The winner will be announced at Wednesday's highly anticipated fashion showcase. For those who didn't get the coveted invite, The Gleaner will be doing worldwide-live streaming of the event at http://jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/collection-moda. Until then, let's see who's your favourite young designer!
Ayanna Dixon has always wanted to create two clothing labels - a high-end line incorporating what she learnt while studying in New York, and another incorporating her love for swimsuits. It has been five years since Dixon left university and returned to the shores of Jamaica, and she can confidently say that she has created her labels. ASD features swimsuits and illustrated tees, and Ayanna Dixon for ASD sells high-end, ready-to-wear pieces.
Dixon's interest in fashion goes back as far as she can remember. She tells Flair, "This industry and I grew together and I have used each given opportunity to the best of my ability - from modelling for Pulse, to having my work being sold in Jamaica's top boutiques, placing second in Mission Catwalk, showing at Miami Beach International Fashion Week, and teaching fashion courses. I am now ready to take ASD to the next level."
This, she believes, would increase brand equity, thereby creating an iconic name for ASD. However, this will be no easy task, and she has encountered problems along the way, one of which is capital.
According to Dixon, "I've countered this problem by working a nine-to-five day job, as well as taking out small business loans. Both solutions are hard to maintain, as one requires my undivided attention during prime business hours and the other hinders my business growth with high interest rates and payments which tie up my cash flow.
"Despite these challenges, ASD has grown from strength to strength," she says.
The First Global cash prize of
$100,000 is the ultimate prize for the three finalists, but the question is, who will it benefit more?
According to Dixon, "This fund will not only help me buy fabric and equipment, but will also help stimulate the economy and provide much-needed employment for talented seamstresses." ASD has two full-time workers and outsources to three companies which hire a total of approximately 15 individuals.
Ever since she was a little girl growing up in Slovakia, fashion has always been the passion of Lubica Slovak. After obtaining her bachelor's degree from the prestigious Ryerson University in Toronto, she decided to follow two of her dreams - living in the Caribbean and being a fashion designer.
Jamaica was her island of choice, but the Slovakia-born, Jamaica-bred designer tells Flair that moving to a small island and trying to establish herself as an 'outsider' was not always an easy task, but one filled with many obstacles. Slovak has admitted to having accomplished a few dreams, but there are many more that she still has to accomplish.
She tells Flair, "Although I am now recognised internationally as a Jamaica-based designer, it is important for my brand to make the next step into production. Based on the interest around the world in my clothing line, it is evident that there is a place on the international market for Jamaican designers."
She continues, "I have been invited to and participated in several fashion shows in the Caribbean, as well as Canada and Europe. However, manufacturing has been one of my major problems because of financial setbacks. The interest in my brand is definitely there, but I haven't been able to keep up with the production. I have been doing the production myself, as well as outsourcing some of the work to different seamstresses. This process does not guarantee the quality and consistency that my brand needs to compete on an international level."
Slovak also says that in order for her brand to grow, her designs have to be produced at the highest quality and at the best possible price. The First Global cash prize is the ultimate for the three finalists.
Slovak tells Flair, "I would use this grant to develop a collection on an international level, producing quality samples and executing an appropriate photo shoot for a new-look book, which would then be sent out to interested retailers in the Caribbean and the United States. Producing high-quality samples is the most important aspect in selling a new line, and this grant would be exactly the financial help I need to start the process of growing the Lubica brand, to bring it to a new level.
"As I approached the great quarter century, I came to a feeling of emptiness, that my lifelong dream had not been realised. Along my journey through life, nothing entrances, captivates and brings me as much effortless joy as fashion and everything it encapsulates."
These were the words of 25-year-old budding designer Francesca Lake, who has admittedly revealed that the arts have always resonated with her. According to the Campion graduate, "Fashion design and the need to attain, learn and grow in the craft have always motivated me. As a teenager, having experimented with reinventing clothes already in my closet, I then acquired the desire to create my own clothing. I bought a sewing machine, read the manual and taught myself the basics, but just the fundamentals was not enough," she tells Flair.
After receiving her bachelor's degree in entertainment and cultural enterprise management at the University of the West Indies, and working for one of the top hotel chains in the Western hemisphere (Sandals Resorts International), Lake has now grown from her past experiences and is finally ready to proceed to the next chapter in her life.
According to her, "This intrinsic desire to want to advance and progress in the field is what guides my zeal and enthusiasm and is the reason I applied to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, California, where I was accepted as a student into their Fall 2013 programme.
"As I imagine my life as a successful designer, owning my own company and contributing positively to the fashion and apparel industry in the Caribbean, nothing makes me more scared yet brings me even more joy and feeling of contentment," Lake shares.
She continues, "It is my desire and dream to make my passion become my life. So, in order to pursue a career in the fashion industry, I must have the technical knowledge and skill to accompany it," she ends.
As it relates to the cash prize, Lake tells us, "With a 15-month-long programme, I am searching for financial assistance to be able to achieve my ultimate goal of representing Brand Jamaica in the fashion and apparel industry not only on a local, but international level. Upon graduating from FIDM, I will use this experience along with my knowledge from my undergraduate degree to market myself and my designs, which will be on par with the pinnacle of fashion houses in the industry."