MUSINGS ON MONDAYS: I DISCOVERED GRENADA

MUSINGS ON MONDAYS: I DISCOVERED GRENADA

Dear Readers,

Welcome to my first post of the New Year. I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year, but I won’t go into my hopes, dreams and resolutions. Lets just say it started as I mean to go on. Positively!

I spent my birthday and the lead up to Christmas in Grenada like a few other famed celebs such as Oprah, Fast and Furious actress Michelle Rodriguez and The Legend of Hercules hot boy Kellan Lutz. All of whom can’t resist our peaceful papz free paradise situated in the Grenadines.

celebriityMichelle Rodriguez and Kellan Lutz bringing in the New Year with Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell at Port Louis Picture via @discovergrenada 

Now if you’ve been reading ComplexdWoman magazine (formerly Complexd) since inception, you will know that Grenada – a tri-island state that stole my heart is where I go to relax and refresh. You will also know that my upbringing between the UK and Grenada inspired the concept of ComplexdWoman and that I shamelessly plug the island every opportunity I get. Now that my shameless plug is complete, I would like to share my most memorable moments in Grenada.

I found a home away from home

This was the first time I decided not to stay with relatives, so I needed a safe haven in close proximity to the town, shops and beaches. A retreat that would allow me to spend my mornings on the veranda staring at the blue sky and green mountains and my evenings listening to crickets chirp. A place where I could recollect my thoughts and feel inspired again. I found a perfect open plan self-catered apartment on homeaway.co.uk. With all the comforts of home and fab fixtures, we will be telling you more about Elliz Apartment and it’s lovely owner Lizzie who migrated to Grenada from the UK in a ComplexdWoman blog feature.

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I discovered Grenada

Even though I grew up in Grenada and I have made annual visits since the age of 8, there is still so much more to be discovered. I met up with Orlando K. Romain – a local island expert/adventurer and photographer who took me on a discovery of the islands hidden treasures. We drove past the tourist attractions, drudged through mud, clambered over rocks and were feasted on by mosquitos all for the awe-inspiring sight of Acoin Waterfalls, who Orlando told me still hasn’t been discovered by many Grenadians (I was well chuffed). And, if that wasn’t exciting enough, I got to photograph him while he captured free-spirited Grenadians we encountered en route.

waterfall Acoin Waterfalls photographed by OK Photo

Rum shopphotographed by OK Photo

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young boysphotographed by OK Photo

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I care about conservation

I visited High Hopes Villa the home of a family friend Aunty Claudette Pitt. I marvel at her view and ornaments every time I visit, but I also leave feeling very inspired by her ‘can do, must do’ mindset.

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We talked about her voluntary efforts with SPECTO – a non-profit environmental and community tourism advocacy group based in the parish of St. Patrick’s, Grenada. We also talked about how they planned to reach their goal of engaging the community in the protection and conservation of the endangered leatherback turtle species and ways to develop alternative livelihoods based in environmental conservation and activism. This lead to partaking in a coastal clean up the following Sunday alongside members of the Rotaract Club of Grenada. We got up at 4am to clear Bathway Beach coastline of harmful plastic waste, which could have adverse effects on leatherback turtles and the surrounding environment. It was the first time I had engaged in a clean up operation in Grenada and felt very good about what had been achieved. You can read more about the beach clean up here

coastPhoto courtesy of Rotaract Club of Grenada

I met Artist Stacey Byer

One of the perks of the job I enjoy is meeting the women we feature and watching their careers flourish. Back in 2011 we featured Grenadian artist Stacey Byer in our ComplexdWoman segment here. I was so impressed by the fact she had built her own art studio, I knew it was only a matter of time before a fantastic opportunity was in the clutches of her capable hands. A quick meet and greet turned into a second interview when Stacey told me she had illustrated her first internationally published Children’s book ‘Fun Fun Crab on the Run’. Best-selling author Mario Picayo selected Stacey Byer to create the illustrations after being attracted to the playful style and humour in her work. And, the best part of the commission is the fact that when Stacey met Mario in 2012, she had taken a chance and shown him her portfolio not knowing a year later it would lead to such a collaboration. We will be sharing all the details in a follow-up interview with Stacey on the ComplexdWoman blog.

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I ate I-tal food and I liked it

I-tal is a Rastafarian diet based on the belief that the body is a temple and must be kept clean and pure. Very similar to a vegan diet it excludes animal products, meat, dairy and eggs and only includes food that is fresh and grown locally. Our, chef a shy Rastafarian man who came alive in his kitchen at Mango Bay Cottage, (which I like to call a hideaway in the hills) made a heavenly 3-course meal. I won’t bore you with the details, I’ll just let you dribble over the photograph and inform you that I chowed down that meal and didn’t miss my craving for meat.

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I appeared on Grenadian TV

I was invited on TV show Chit Chat by the gorgeous host Lexan Fletcher. I have been liaising with Lexan from the UK for the last couple of years and recommending inspiring women for her show.  It was such an honour to be a guest and finally meet Lexan. Her mid-morning T.V Show, which feature interviews that aim to educate and inspire, showcases the work and talents of some very interesting Grenadian women. In my interview we talked about my upbringing, the concept and process of conceptualising ComplexdWoman and why I love what I do.

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COMPLEXDWOMAN: LYNDAH WELLS

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 19.11.08Photographed by Evan Hunt Photo

Name:  Lyndah Wells
Age: 30 something
Occupation: Photographer
Place of birth: Lagos, Nigeria
Current residence: Freeport, Grand Bahamas 
 
My siblings and I were born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria – the homeland of our parents. We moved to London when I was five years old and in my early teens I was sent to boarding school in Stoke-on-Trent. Boarding school was where I learned to be independent and take care of myself. When I left school at 15 my father moved us to Nigeria so that we knew where we came from.  It was huge culture shock! On top of adjusting to change we had to accept the breakdown of my parents marriage. When I left after four years, Nigeria left a sour taste in my mouth. Now I love it! When I took my husband Douglas for the first time I noticed how much things had changed socially. I couldn’t appreciate the social life when I was a young woman. Especially not with three brothers threatening to break the bones in every potential boyfriends body. 

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My day begins at 7am when my daughter wakes up and says ‘hi’. We head to the kitchen to make my daily cappuccino (I don’t have breakfast). Then, we play for an hour before she eats (or doesn’t eat) her breakfast. As a full-time working mother I’ve leant how to juggle clients, editing, photo-shoots and grocery shopping, but regardless of how many things I have to juggle, I always try to make an effort with what I wear. Layla loves nothing more than dressing up in my clothes too.

mum and layla

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When I started out as a photographer, I spent a lot of time copying what I saw. It takes time to define yourself through your work. Eventually you get to the stage where you can step back and see your style clearly. My style of photography is honest, clean and simple. It’s fresh and full of light and air. I love how people respond to my work. I became a wedding photographer by accident, but I enjoy being a part of one of the happiest days of a couple’s life. That happiness is infectious and it shows in my work.
 
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I went back to university after leaving Nigeria and studied Furniture Design & Technology at London Metropolitan University (formerly London Guildhall University) and then went on to get a Residential Interior Design diploma at The Design School in London. I met my husband on a ten-day visit in the Bahamas and it changed my life. I never thought I would leave London, but I absolutely love living here because it has allowed me to become an artist and photographer. I have had so many wonderful opportunities and met so many kindred spirits. I love being able to put on a t-shirt and denim shorts in December, I love being able to raise my daughter in the sunshine and not worry about who is looking at her in the playground and most of all, I love the friends I have made in the seven years I’ve lived here.
 
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The best thing about being a mother is hearing Layla’s laugh and snort when I tickle her, the way she kisses whichever part of my body her lips can reach and gives me a pat on the back after a hug. I went back to work three weeks after giving birth because I have a great support system at home and my husband is a wonderful hands-on dad. There are times when I feel guilty for working so much, but I do make sure that I spend quality time with Layla, have date nights with Doug and go dancing with my girls. 
 
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I am a ComplexdWoman because I am independent even as a wife and mother. I have courage and the conviction to be me even when I feel insecure. I’m not sure it’s necessarily about being a woman, but it’s definitely about being Lyndah. My advice to other women would be the same advice I will give to my daughter. Be the best you can be in every way possible, don’t look outside for assurance because it all starts from within and the beauty that was created in you. If you believe in that beauty, there is no stopping you.

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COMPLEXDWOMAN: ARIA FRANCIS

COMPLEXDWOMAN: ARIA FRANCIS
 
Name: Aria Francis
Age: 21
Occupation: Student/Model
Place of birth: Grenada
Current residence:  Happy Hill, St. George, Grenada

CW: Where are you based and tell us a bit more about your home country?

AF: I live in Grenada, an island with exciting annual cultural events. My African ancestors were transported to Grenada during the slave trade and later regained their freedom. I love my country and the one thing I look forward to every year is our Carnival. Growing up in Grenada was blissful. I remember the games me and my siblings and cousins used to play and the jokes we used to have during our summer vacation.

CW: Was this your first editorial fashion shoot?

AF: Yes! It was my first editorial shoot and I was honoured to work with such an experienced and professional team. It was twice as awesome shooting at La Luna Resort in Grenada. I had the chance to put the different poses and facial expressions I have been practicing into action and fully engage with the camera. I loved every moment of it.

CW: Why do you want to become a professional model?

AF: I developed a love for fashion from a very young age and watching shows like America’s Next Top Model gave me a little insight into the modeling industry. I wanted to start much younger, but due to lack of resources in Grenada I have remained patient and take part in mini fashion shows and beauty pageants to gain experience. I’ve been building my model portfolio with Grenadian photographers in beautiful locations throughout our island and I interact with models across the  Caribbean who give me great tips and advice.

CW: With fashion season in full swing. What models and designers will you be looking out for and what Fashion Week do you dream of attending?

AF: Definitely Naomi Campbell, I would love to meet her one day. Naomi is a determined and fierce model, it’s even nicer to know she is of Afro-Caribbean descent and has broken down barriers in fashion. I love to watch the runway shows of classic high-end labels like Chanel, Valentino, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. It would be a dream-come-true to attend Paris Fashion Week and walk for Valentino.

CW: What are some of the challenges of pursuing modeling in Grenada?

AR: The state of the economy and not being able to host a Fashion Week here. But in saying that, I have a very supportive management team pushing me towards the best agencies. A fellow Grenadian model and I were chosen to represent Grenada in the 2011 Elite Model Look Caribbean Competition, held in Trinidad. This really pushed me out there and also taught me to be a chameleon in every situation. It gave me the confidence and know-how to try different things on and off the runway and during photo-shoots.

CW: What makes you a ComplexdWoman? 

AF: I am very disciplined and I can follow direction and take criticism without feeling defeated. I believe in change and I believe everyone can pursue their dreams once they pluck up the courage. I see each day as an opportunity to grow, achieve and aspire to be the best version of myself.

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Swimsuit: Silhouette by Neisha La Touche/ Accessories: D’ Accessory Place Grenada

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Swimsuit: Mostaza/ Chiffon Scarf: Silhouette by Neisha La Touche/Earrings: D’ Accessory Place Grenada

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Swimsuit and wrap skirt: Silhouette by Neisha La Touche/Accessories: D’ Accessory Place Grenada

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Dress:Jus Fashion Boutique Grenada/Bracelets: D’ Accessory Place Grenada/Sandals:A Step Above Grenada

Creative Team

Photographed by Salima Esmail – Lima Es Photography Model: Aria Francis @ Elite Model Look Grenada, Styling /Designs by Neisha La Touche, Makeup by Shelley Waldron and Hair by Keldon Roberts

| Posted in Complexd Women | 3 Comments

WWW.WEDNESDAYS: WEDDINGS

Photographed by Leonardo Melendez 

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the first www.wednesdays featuring things I find on the World Wide Web and care to share.

‘Every girl wants a big wedding’ – a myth!

‘Every girl wants a uncostly, hassle-free, simple but special, beautiful wedding’ – closer to the truth!

This summer has seen some beautiful ceremonies, so to wrap up and prepare for the winter here are some dreamy ones I’ve come across online. Oh and a relative who recently got engaged and asked me to help plan their wedding also inspired this post. I can hardly wait!

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via www.facebook.com/LeonardoMelendezPhotography 

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via www.urbanbushbabes.com 

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via www.stylepantry.com via www.stephgrantphotography.com

 A wise 21st century woman knows that big boastful weddings are unnecessary. The proof is in these pictures below, which show that women (the wedding planners) are opting for creative wedding planning companies that are inventive with knick-knacks and bits and bobs as decorations, focusing on intricate details over grand designs. My all-time favourite creative wedding inspiration site is 700experience.com. Resident Island girl Vanessa Pritchard who I had the pleasure of meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, features some of the islands most whimsical weddings in  an addictive segment called ISLAND “I DO”.

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via www.700experience.com

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Tried + Tested Tuesday: “Kicking it in the studio”

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A creative shoot at Espero Studios 

Dear Readers,

Welcome to my first Tried + Tested Tuesday post, featuring recommendations verified by me!

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Kicking It In The Studio

When I left university I dabbled in a bit of styling and art-direction. That glamorous life involved tirelessly searching for affordable studio spaces online, which, were always, is an industrial no-man’s-land and resulted in my team dragging cheap cabin pullies across unevenly paved terrain.

Until I discovered the quaint, but resourceful Espero Studios in the heart of London’s infamous Brick Lane. Espero Studios played host to our editorial shoot with Taekwondo athlete Andrea St Bernard, who speared us precious time while she represented Grenada during the Olympic games (interview on page 54-64).

The studio, a multi-purpose space, comes well equipped with vintage and industrial props and studio hire at a very affordable rate.

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I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the mannequin Andrea assaulted in the process of getting ‘the money shot’.

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Check out their Facebook page to view more visuals

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