Fashion in Film
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the position you hold as FashionTT’s GM?
On a personal note, I am a family-oriented person, fun-loving, highly committed, love watching movies, visiting local fashion designers online and in store to buy products for my wardrobe. I believe taking care of your appearance and building your core personal brand whilst remaining authentic to yourself is key to your happiness and accordingly will lead to your success/contentment in other avenues in your life.
On my career side, I have a business and finance background spanning 15 years of which I have 10 years’ experience in senior management positions in the private and public sectors. This experience has boded well for my position at FashionTT as our company’s mandate is to stimulate the business development and export activity of the fashion industry which covers many instrumental areas in business and finance. I have worked with FashionTT for over 5 years next year March will be 6 years and in addition to the company meeting its key deliverables in industry expansion ie designer business and export growth, it is truly rewarding to make a positive difference in persons’ lives by providing support which would have contributed to a more sustainable way of living.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
I have always aspired to work in the Business of Fashion from my early teenage years, not only I love the beauty of fashion but this industry is such a successful one internationally generating revenues at approximately US$2.4 trillion, there are so many areas in the fashion value chain in which you can work and provide a meaningful contribution. I was so excited and appreciative to be granted with the opportunity to work with FashionTT in 2015. I remember my first local dress I bought years before by Lisa See Tai. It is absolutely my style and I still wear it. It looks great and that attests to the talent and good quality that is derived from purchasing local fashion.
Who has been your biggest mentors in this industry and what was the best advice they gave?
A couple of the persons I look up to at the top and have true admiration for are Ecliff Elie, Claudia Pegus and Professor Andrew Ramroop. Whilst being successful they have not lost their humility and personal touch with their clients, Ecliff, Claudia and Andrew have supported FashionTT so much and we are very grateful. The key tips they have shared with me and the designer community:
Ecliff: “As a designer if you just try to sell clothing you are going fail, because there are a lot of clothing out there but if you try to sell a brand, the marketing and marketing strategy becomes much easier. If you have a brand you can sell clothing, eyewear, cufflinks etc.” Remember with all the large brands around the world, persons are buying into the brand and not just the product.
Claudia: “I have been able to outsource local labour to support my production process. I think outsourcing specialists in different areas such as in cutting, stitching and finishing etc can support us in managing our overheads and it speeds production up at a much better price, I outsource primarily from Trinidad”
Andrew: “Don’t follow the pathway, create your own pathway, leave a trail”
The fashion industry has changed so much in the past few years, what’s the best advice you would give for staying ahead of the curve?
1. Always stay well researched and abreast of local and international industry developments, technology has progressed tremendously to support the ease of doing business, sustainability is a topic of focus and is much needed for conservation and the needs of consumers are always changing you need to stay informed of fashion trends and re-innovate where possible to the needs of your target market.
2. you need to always provide optimal customer service, create a one on one relationship with your customer and be in touch on what their needs are, customers who have a great relationship with you and receive a special warm experience will highly unlikely move to a competitor. It is fantastic to acquire new clients; however, it should also be taken into account that your returning clients will more than likely provide for 80% of your revenue. Client relationship management is key, there must be database of all the clients who purchased from you since inception for continued outreach and product promotion.
How can our fashion designers become more integrated into the film industry?
Our Fashion Designers should be the Costume Designers for all of our local films and beyond. We have so much creativity and skills that reside within our fashion sector and our fashion companies can support in creating these stories by dressing each of the key roles according to the various personalities.
Costumes are one of many tools the film director has to tell the story. Costumes communicate the details of a character’s personality to the audience, and help actors transform into new and believable people on screen… Most important, the audience must believe that every person in a story has a life before the movie begins.
What is it you love about fashion and by extension the fashion industry in T&T?
I love fashion because I can express my own individuality, my personal style and brand through my appearance every day. You feel good about yourself mentally and physically when you are dressed well. I love T&T Fashion because it is unique, beautiful, classy and of good quality. When I wear local fashion, I receive so many compliments, I stand out and I am sure when I walk into a room there is no one else wearing the same outfit. We have so much potential.
What was the biggest setback you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
When entering into a new organization there are often doubts by persons who don’t know you, your capabilities, your knowledge and skills to steer the company ahead. I overcame this by keeping in constant communication with team members on my vision, becoming fully aware of all issues, being a team member, remaining focused on my mandate and working hard. Key Performance Indicators were obtained, everyone derived benefits from our positive results and good team comradery was built and sustained.
What advice would you give someone who is new in this field?
Stay focused on your vision and plan for your business, work hard, deliver on time and most importantly, know your customer. Though the path may seem long through consistency and determination, success is imminent.