Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Entrepreneur urges youth to find skill they can monetise

Published:Monday | March 27, 2023 | 12:28 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Bridal dresses created by Stacia Shaw.
Bridal dresses created by Stacia Shaw.
Stacia Shaw, her daughter Ajenay and son Anjay rocking some of her creations.
Stacia Shaw, her daughter Ajenay and son Anjay rocking some of her creations.
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Despite always having a passion for fashion design, Stacia Shaw decided to pursue a university degree in business administration with a major in human resources and a minor in banking and finance.

“I had put sewing and fashion on the back burner,” the entrepreneur told The Gleaner, as she explained how she is able to now enjoy a corporate job while running her own business.

She is encouraging young Jamaicans to never stop pursuing their dreams and aspirations in pursuit of success.

Shaw first started sewing while attending St Andrew High School for Girls. She would make use of the opportunity to sew school ties for students attending the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships.

“Persons were gravitating to it, so I had to stay back in the evenings to do those,” she said.

At the age of 15, Shaw’s father bought her a sewing machine after realising her potential as he wanted her to have a safer and more efficient way of making garments.

“So, that is how I was able to make an income while going to high school,” she told The Gleaner.

Sewing was a familiar skill in the family as her aunt and grandmother were dressmakers and her uncle was a tailor.

When she left high school and was unable to gain employment, the young woman decided to further her sewing skills at Annie Gee’s School of Fashion.

Shaw then began making uniforms for people in her community while she sought employment, before taking part in an on-the-job training programme through the HEART/NSTA Trust. Through this, she was able to secure a job at the then-named Jamaica National Building Society, now JN Bank, where she is still employed.

However, in October 2018, when she wanted to earn more cash for the approaching Christmas season, she turned to her fashion design skills to boost her cash inflow.

Shaw started selling her handmade creations online and offered bridal robes, wedding dresses, special occasion outfits for women, bedsheets, and hair bonnets.

She quickly became aware of the potential and profitability of the business.

“After December, people were still requesting the handmade items in January, so I still had to be doing orders until eventually, I said that I can probably take this very seriously in terms of a business venture,” she said.

She then officially registered the business in January 2019.

Like with many other medium, small, and micro enterprises, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt the business a blow as customers’ purchasing power significantly decreased.

However, this did not weaken her resolve and she took the time to do online courses and adopt new business growth strategies, which resulted in a boom in sales last year.

Balancing a nine-to-five and running a business is not so easy, she admits, but noted that “it’s all about structure”.

The mother of two explained that because she works alone and without assistance, she has to carefully manage her time. As a result, she works three nights per week and uses the weekends to finalise her designs and complete the majority of the work.

“Sometimes when you try to deny the dream, you realise that you are not able to, and I think what makes it easier with the nine-to-five is because I genuinely have a love for it, so even when it’s not booming as how it should, I still have that drive to continue because you do it out of the love and not necessarily [because] of the money,” she said.

Shaw now enjoys the best of both worlds as she said she enjoys her corporate job and running her own business.

“I’m forever grateful for my nine-to-five. I love my business as well, so it is two [jobs] that I am really passionate about,” she said.

She is encouraging the youths to invest in learning a skill.

“It is a fact that many young people leave high school and are not able to further their education due to lack of funds and [are] also [unable] to find employment. As such, I would recommend finding a skill that you are passionate about. Become so good at it that you are able to monetise it and create employment for yourself. Never give up and always follow your dreams,” she said.

Those who are interested in Stacia Shaw’s designs can contact her at 876-401-4275 or find her on Instagram @needle_plush_designs. More details can be found on her website https://needleplushdesigns.com.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com