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'Think global' - Woman behind BroadTail Designs advises young colleagues

Published:Monday | December 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMSashakay Fairclough
Beckford's design for the woman with full figure.

In order to boost Jamaica's economy, entrepreneurship and creativity must be combined and encouraged. Standing out in such a difficult economic climate requires patience, constant research and persistence. In order to succeed, young entrepreneurs must find gaps in often saturated areas and fill them.

In April 2015, Dania Beckford found such a gap when she realised how difficult it was for full-figured women to find swimwear that fit properly. She decided to do something about this and created BroadTail Designs. The swimsuit design company is evidence of her personal mission to have curvy ladies feeling confident in swimsuits and cover-ups with vibrant and modern prints.

Discussing the intricacies of her company, Beckford explained how she keeps her customers happy.

"We ensure each suit fits our customers perfectly, so we only do custom-made ones and call them 'fitkinis', because they are made to fit you. We also provide motivational tips to encourage women of all sizes to love themselves and to feel sexy."

She plans to introduce two new lines in 2017, Brides by BroadTail and BroadTail Babies. There will also be an alluring alternative design during the carnival season.

Beckford employs three people directly - another designer, the person who produces the designs, and one person in accounts. She then hires models when needed. Although she is passionate about Jamaica and designing, she admits that it is often difficult to own a company here because of financial constraints and difficulty in acquiring loans.

"Access to funding is always a challenge for entrepreneurs in Jamaica and I, too, faced that challenge. It was also interesting to note the inconsistencies of our fabric suppliers as well, which forced me to ship from overseas to get items I require and, of, course, that whole process requires additional money."

She indicated that the Government has done an adequate job of assisting entrepreneurs, but admits that more needs to be done.

"The Government, over the years, has improved in their endeavours to encourage entrepreneurship in a relatively constricting economy. However, a lot more is needed in the areas of how difficult it is to get certain permits to operate a business; the high rental [cost] of spaces to operate in the city of Kingston, and also shipping/duty costs on imported items."

All is not lost, however, as Beckford believes that working in Jamaica allows her to be her most creative self.

"There is so much to muse on while being in Jamaica, because of our dynamic culture. Also, the reputation of Jamaica being a cultural mecca internationally and home to the colours associated with our flag and our music are an advantage when marketing regionally and internationally. Also, Jamaican women are absolutely beautiful and are some of the curviest beings worldwide; using their photos to publicise my product is definitely an advantage."

The designing industry continues to grow here because of these things, and although she has noticed an increase in the number of swimsuit designers since she first started, the competition does not faze her. She uses it as motivation to improve her work output and to find innovative ways to satisfy her clientele.

Her advice to emerging young designers who want to attain a certain level of success is to market their products internationally.

"I would definitely encourage up-and-coming fashion designers to think global when they market their products. We live in a global environment, and in order to showcase Brand Jamaica and maximise profits, marketing internationally is the key."