Editors Diary

The culture, life, style and inspiration of the Editor Kered Clement

EDITOR’S DIARY: AIM HIGH

EDITOR'S DIARY: AIM HIGH Photographs by Jay D Will, Epping Forest 

When we featured the stunning up-coming Grenadian model Aria Francis in a dangerously high leg one-piece by Gillian. E. Murray Designs here, it warranted a response from the designer that led to this eventual interview. I opened my inbox to read, ‘All I can say is Wow!  The world of us women needed you so.  I am so very blessed by your hard work, Always, Gillian’. Let me be sappy and say, it bought a tear to my eye, for if this is how issues of ComplexdWoman make women feel, we’re never going to stop! When I found out more about this woman I wasn’t disappointed. From her heartfelt reply I realised that the inspiration and encouragement we feed to our readers was something Gillian needed to continue fulfilling her dreams, fighting for the acceptance for her Down Syndrome son and battling through a divorce. When I got a chance to wear one of her pieces I wore it with pride and sass, and hope that women who wear Gillian’s pieces do the same to motivate her  through her personal challenges. So, without further ado, I present Gillian. E. Murray’s ComplexdWoman story.

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Name: Gillian E. Murray
Age: 46
Occupation:  Fashion Designer; Clinical Social Worker
Place of birth:  Jamaica
Current residence:  Kingston, Jamaica
 
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CW: Tell me more about your début collection shown at Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW), 14 and the white one-piece swimsuit I’m wearing?

GM: I called my collection ‘Natural Geometry’. I wanted to join elements of geometry, such as angles and lines, which I feel compliment female curves.  My goal is to show that the curves of the female body can balance states of asymmetry. I’m also a lover of global art and history, initiated by my schooling experience here in Jamaica, where I learned Caribbean, American and European history. It really awakened my appetite for learning about different civilizations, era artists and those unique symbols which identified them, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Aztecs and Indians, which all converge into one global word for me: “Detailed”.  All of my inspiration comes from the world, art and history, which blend well with Jamaica’s multi-cultural motto, ‘Out of Many, One People’.

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CW: How did your fashion label Gillian .E. Murray Designs come about?  

GM: I entered a small-scale fashion show at the last-minute with the help of a wonderful seamstress. I presented six pieces in two weeks and unexpectedly; I received a good review in the press so it encouraged me to do more. I learned everything I could from attending fashion shows in Miami, watching Fashion T.V, to connecting with one of Russell Simmons’ old employees. I am a rebel by nature and I like to make sure I’m offering something unconventional as opposed to following trends. Designing is my gift and I don’t want it to be altered by conventionalism. I must admit that I put my label on hold for a while when I had my beautiful baby boy Daniel, who has Down’s syndrome, but I’m back!

CW: We loved your jaw dropping one-piece at CFW, 14! Did your son inspire the comeback?

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GM: I design gowns as well, but I think the swimsuit market has been flooded with the same cuts and styles for the longest while.  The only variety is in the colours and fabrics so I decided to do some unique and racy pieces.

After my two beautiful daughters I thought I had finished having children, then, Voila, a happy shock of my life, an XY – boy to boot. We soon learned some disheartening news after my prenatal screening, which revealed my unborn son had Down’s Syndrome. I clearly remember crying for my unborn son and the fact that I may outlive him and may not be there to protect him. I knew it was going to change my life forever, but I took it one day at a time to find inner strength and embrace this new life I was expecting.

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When my son, Daniel Christopher was born, it was the most beautiful experience and reinforced the power of finding natural beauty in natures error. Daniel’s needs forced me to become a stay-at-home-mom and it was a major adjustment, after all I obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Barry University. My son’s needs connected the dots between my formal education and my dream, which was to develop my fashion label. My son is my hero; he changed my life dramatically and has been the crux of my evolution and revolution. I am now a woman who stands for truth, courage and fearlessness. With my gowns I plan to create bespoke works of art for auctions to raise funds for agencies that aid the disabled. My aim is to start in Jamaica, then infiltrate the region and eventually the rest of the world.

CW: What challenges have you come up against in Jamaica being the mother of a child with Down Syndrome?

GM: Most of the challenges lie in the stigma attached to having a disabled child. I am fiercely protective and proud of my son. Some of my in-laws wanted me to stay quiet about his condition, but I refuse to let their embarrassment be our issue. It’s my intention to educate him about his diagnosis as much as I can to offset the eventual day when he asks me why people treat him differently. There are relatives who insist that he will “grow-out-of-it”, sometimes I try to educate them and other times I know it’s just their way of empathizing with me in the best way they know how.  It has led me to speak with Jamaica’s Down’s Syndrome Foundation who’ve been excellent and allowed me to share my knowledge with others in a similar situation.

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CW: How do you plan to raise social awareness for children with disabilities through fashion?

GM: I hope to raise awareness a little at a time by being bold, proud and ready to educate anyone willing to listen. I even hope he will agree to walk with me on catwalk in the future, I know he’ll love the photographers’ flashes.  I want him to be seen as an equal because we are all created with elements of weakness, which is where we eventually discover our greatest strengths.  It seems that there is uncharted beauty in imperfection.  For me, an extra chromosome in the road is not the end of the road. It is my hope to help bridge the social education and perception gap that affects the difference in the tolerance levels in the Caribbean. Giving gives me joy and in this case, giving to agencies that support the disabled is the goal. Donations in dollars can increase prenatal care for women over the age of 35, provide food and medication for mothers in need and accumulate more accurate census data and real live birth recordings of DS and other special needs children in the Caribbean. It will also help to seek greater international and local funding for early diagnoses and intervention and find disabled home-birthed babies and children in rural areas. Providing early assessment and education intervention will help our disabled children to become more productive members of society with skills that will allow them to defend themselves and their ability to vie for opportunities.

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CW: What makes you a ComplexdWoman?

GM: I am a Fashion Designer, Clinical Social Worker and Special Needs Mother to all!  I have a very high stress-tolerance level, which has allowed me to manage hits and misses all at once.  Life has taught me to weather multiple storms, from all directions and always survive.  I no longer try to please everyone.  I have learned to never say never, but more importantly, I have learnt about Murphy’s Law, not to ever let these words escape my lips again: “What could possibly be next?” I learned that freedom is a state of mind and is definitely worth having and holding.  I am me…with no apologies.  I dare to take risks despite challenges and change is my favourite BFF.

For more information email Gillian on gilliane.designer@gmail.com or shop the collection at Shop Caribbean Fashion 

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EDITOR’S DIARY: TURTLE BAY RESTAURANT EALING

EDITOR’S DIARY: TURTLE BAY RESTURANT EALING

NEWSFLASH: There’s a new Afrodisiac in my hometown and she’s serving up an array of robust rum cocktails and mouth-watering Jerk Pitt dishes. All of this to the backdrop of reggae melodies that soothe the spicy blends on offer.

This Afro lady I speak of is none other than a rather enticing large-scale painting adorning the wall of the newly opened Turtle Bay Restaurant in Ealing – an authentic Caribbean dining and drinking experience in West London.

EDITOR’S DIARY: TURTLE BAY RESTURANT EALING

For the last few weeks, I’ve been peering through the windows and giving a nod of approval at the interiors, which replicate food huts in the Caribbean down to a tin enamel plate. The launch party was pretty awesome too; with the restaurant rammed to the brim and canapés fresh from the flames of the Jerk Pitt, there was enough heat and humidity to throw on a bikini.

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This week I finally got to sample the menu to give my Island girl seal of approval. After devouring my Jerk Chicken drizzled with a creamy jerk spiced sauce, each bite took me back to my roadside pit stops in Jamaica, coming very close to the authentic Caribbean experience.

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Executive Head Chef, Collin Scott and General Manager, Derek Casey poached from Jamie’s Italian by Founder Ajith Jayawickrema both expressed their love for West Indian food and the laid-back island vibe, which Turtle Bay captures for British foodies to experience. It also helps that the bar and table staff are as attentive and friendly as the warmth received from a Caribbean food vendor on the daily hustle.

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Executive Head Chef Collin sandwiched between the ComplexdWoman team

Although not a specialist in Caribbean cuisine, the menu was meticulously researched and lovingly created by Chef Collin who has 27 years of kitchen experience. When I asked him whether Turtle Bay’s menu matches up to ‘mamas’ cooking, he declared, ‘nothing could ever beat your grandmothers cooking. When I’m developing the menu, whether it’s Trinidad Curry Chicken or Rastafarian Run Down, I focus on giving diners a taste of the spices and flavours each island has to offer’.

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The Turtle Bay Restaurant concept manages to pack the spirit of the Caribbean under one roof.  The buzz surrounding the new location in Ealing gives you that Friday feeling even when you’ve got Monday blues. If you’re a reggae, soca and dancehall lover, the playlist will have you beating your glazed jerk pork bones on the enamel plates and if you just appreciate darn good design, the shipping container fixtures and drum barrel washbasins will certainly catch your eye and have you instagramming everything you see like me.

Chef Collin hinted at more rapid restaurant openings in London so watch out Brixton, who knows… you could be next!

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www.turtlebay.co.uk

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EDITOR’S DIARY: RESORT WEAR DON’T CARE

EDITOR'S DIARY: RESORT WEAR DON'T CARE

Eau de par-fumes combined with the peppery perspiration of an eight-hour commuter can only mean one thing… HEATWAVE in London! Despite the unpleasant fragrance of frazzled Londoners these past few days, I’ve been acting like a ‘resort wear don’t care’ island gal amidst this concrete jungle. Let me explain. Unswerving sun during the summer season is a very rare occurrence for British folk. So much so, ‘they’ (not moi) drop their panties at the first flicker or flare. This tends to happen towards the end of April when the sun starts to tease us, and when it does put on a blinding show, all scantly clad hell breaks loose.

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I like to keep it cool and classy at all times, so these wide-legged shocking neon resort pants by Trèfle designs are perfect for the sticky weather. I met Kristin Fraser the Founder of Trèfle designs at Island of the World Fashion Week in Nassau, Bahamas over five years ago. As you may have seen from previous posts, I’ve built long-lasting connections with a lot of the creative talent I met during the week long showcase and it has been positively inspiring watching their creative ventures grow.

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Photographs by Jerome. D. Williams 

Kristin was born and raised in Tortola and is the third generation in a family of women who have a keen eye for colour and fashion design. She interned with Carolina Herrera and BCBG Max Azria, (two major powerhouses who understand the female form) an experience, which inspired her to launch Trèfle designs. She established her label in the summer of 2008 with the vision of creating a highly recognized clothing brand that would be appealing to women, men and children both nationally and internationally.

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I caught up with Kristin to find out what’s new with Trèfle designs while constructing my master plan to turn around to the beautiful backdrop of the British Virgin Islands I’ve seen in her collection shots.

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Name:  Kristin Frazer
Age: 30
Occupation: Fashion Designer/Shoe Buyer
Place of birth: Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Current residence: Tortola, BVI

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CW: How has the brand evolved since we last met at Islands of The World Fashion Week in Nassau, Bahamas?

KF: The brand has grown tremendously with two new areas of apparel focus. I have since launched a Resort-wear line with lightweight fabrics for women and a Swimwear line called Trefle284 for girls. The children’s line is a representation of my country’s area code ‘284’ and will feature collections that are bright, fun and on trend!

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CW: What’s ‘a day in the life of’… Kristin Frazer like?

KF: My long nights don’t allow me to wake up as early as I should, but since I’m also a manager and shoe buyer for the family business on Tortola, I am awake from around 7am and I try to have orange juice and oats to get me going until lunch. I often work through lunch, between dealing with shoes, fabric vendors, contacts and customers for both Trefle and the family business and the addition of emails, social media and everything in between, I pretty much have very little time to breathe… but I love it all!

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CW: What are the challenges of building a fashion label in the Caribbean?

KF: It hurts to invest time and money in people or companies that literally waste it (whether it’s production, samples, marketing or fashion/trade shows) as if there is a money tree growing in my yard, but these challenges help to build me up. They push me in a positive direction to strive for more success.

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CW: Can you buy Trefle Designs online?

KF: This is a development I am currently working on. Before I started Trefle in 2008, I recognised that I was from a small country that has big potential globally. I am one of those people who look at the bigger picture in terms of putting fashion on the map while lining up the beauty and natural oasis of the British Virgin Islands as the ultimate getaway destination. The idea was to merge Trefle & the BVI together and I am getting there one day at a time. Anyone interested in retail/sales can contact me via customerservice@trefledesigns.com

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CW: What makes you a ComplexdWoman?

KF: I never let negative things keep me from excelling in all areas of life. A humble state of mind will carry me to places unknown.

To view Kristin’s collections visit www.trefledesigns.com 

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CARIBBEAN FASHION WEEK 2014

CARIBBEAN FASHION WEEK 2014 Photograph by Luca Khouri 

Although born and bred in the fashion capital of London, my first experience of runway fashion was in the Caribbean. When I did experience the trend churning European fashion scene, what it lacked for me was memorable connections that weren’t just based on prestige and pretentiousness. Fashion in the Caribbean has its ups and downs, but it’s gradually evolving. Even though this is more relative to the pace of a carousel ride, it gives you the opportunity to hop on and be a part of the development as it builds momentum.

This year, I’m particularly excited about Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW), which kicks off tomorrow, in Kingston, Jamaica. Not only because of the plethora of approachable talent it draws from the region and as far afield as Africa and Australia, but for the fact that Caribbean designs, will finally be made available to online shoppers around the world. And, of course our very own ComplexdWoman Aria Francis will be making her fashion week debut.

Caribbean Fashion Week founder Kingsley Cooper, announced the exciting launch of Shopcaribbeanfashion.com, an online Caribbean fashion ecommerce website designed to introduce and export the crème of the region’s fashion design talent to an international audience.

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Seen as I love supporting Caribbean designers and up-and-coming Grenadian talent I spoke to the brains behind ShopCaribbeanFashion.com Jessica Huie, Founder of London agency JH Public Relations and international branding expert Kubi Springer who are set to launch the site on the morning of June 15, prior to the evening’s fashion show. I also had a quick catch-up with aspiring Grenadian model Aria Francis to find out how she’s prepping for the shows.

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How did the idea for ShopCaribbeanFashion.com come about?

The idea came about during Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW) 2013. Jessica Huie and I were watching the show and we thought, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the public could purchase designs as they hit the runway. We wanted CFW to have a ‘shopping experience’ allowing consumers to not only enjoy the designers’ collection, but also have the opportunity to walk away with them. This idea evolved into the concept of an online shop that would celebrate all designers from the Caribbean and wider Diaspora; giving them a platform to commercialise their talents and exposed their brands to the world. We then pitched ShopCaribbeanFashion.com to Kingsley the founder of CFW and we’re so excited to launch it to the public at CFW 2014.

Why did JHPR and SheBuildsBrands decide to partner with Pulse Fashion? 

The three-way partnership is critical to the success of the project. Pulse have the access and relationships with the designers, JHPR has the global press contacts to ensure it reaches all media and my team and at SheBuildsBrands we specialise in turning brands into a commercial success. Collaboratively we bring a strength that will make ShopCaribbeanFashion.com an innovative and groundbreaking project.

Jessica Huie-press-shot-cropJessica Huie 

Will ShopCaribbeanFashion.com deliver worldwide?

Yes we will facilitate global orders and delivery. The key principle behind the brand is to present Caribbean designers to a global market. As someone from the UK with international experience I know that there is a huge market for Caribbean inspired designs and I think that ShopCaribbeanFashion.com will simply be feeding this hungry market on a global scale. When you think of ShopCaribbeanFashion.com – think of ASOS with a Caribbean twist!

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What’s the criteria if I’m a Caribbean designers wanting to sell my pieces on ShopCaribbeanFashion.com?

The criterion for designers is to have a minimum of a three piece collection. They can either be ‘ready-to-wear’, ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’ designs as the site will cater to a wide price point from designs that are under US$100 to designs over US$1,000. In addition, the designers need to have the capacity to deliver across sizes and within the specified order timeframe. For young designers this may mean working on a smaller collection with less numbers, but more of an impact. Whether it’s a young designer or seasoned professional; the core component is quality. We want to ensure that we are bringing the best of the Caribbean to the rest of the world.

Aria Francis 

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How did you feel when you heard the news you were invited to walk at Caribbean Fashion Week? 

With this being my first fashion week and quite a prestigious one in the Caribbean, when I heard the news I was delighted. Developing my modeling career means so much to me and to be given this opportunity is really a dream come true. To represent Grenada on the runway at one of Jamaica’s biggest fashion events, gives me and other Grenadian models hope for the future.

How have you been preparing for the show?

I’ve been exercising daily to remain toned and I’ve been drinking a lot of water. Most importantly, I keep practicing my runway walk and getting tips from former, professional model, Jelena Golub Habulan, who’s assisting me with perfecting my technique. She always has the best advice!

What are you looking forward to? 

Gaining experience and being in front of international designers, model scouts and photographers. Being blessed with this wonderful opportunity will allow me to meet successful Jamaican models like Jeneil Williams and Oraine Barrett. Jeneil Williams is such an inspiration so I would love to meet her!

Are you nervous?

At the moment I am not nervous, it’s an opportunity that I have been mentally preparing for. I can’t wait to show my confidence and fierceness on and off the runway. I feel even more encouraged by the fact that people in the Grenadian diaspora reached out to support me, namely Mr. Denison George. I would also like to thank my Grenadian sponsors Andall’s and Associates and Astral Travel & Tours who are providing me with the opportunity to go out there and represent Grenada well.

The ComplexdWoman team will be on the ground providing daily fashion reports so stay tuned on our blog. For more information visit CFW and ShopCaribbeanFashion.com 

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EDITOR’S DIARY: Grenada at Chelsea Flower Show 2014

EDITOR'S DIARY: A closer look at Grenada’s display at Chelsea Flower Show 2014Grenada stand exhibitor Suzanne Gaywood 

The Royal Horticultural society’s annual Chelsea Flower Show is always the hottest ticket in town. This year, tickets were sold out days before the show opened its doors to the general public on Tuesday, which always seems to leave unacquainted Londoners in a floral frenzy. Luckily, the only frantic dash I experienced was that of a patriotic Grenadian dodging the crowds for the tip of a Heliconia to point me in the right direction.

Oh and let me tell you, we did not disappoint. Among 100 other exhibitors, Grenada’s stand was all that and an Earl Grey tea with jam scones. Or should I say that full belly niceness of freshly baked bakes and saltfish with cocoa tea!

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Although awarded a commendable silver-gilt medal, just like our treasured Kirani James going for an Olympic gold, Suzanne Gaywood and her team maintained the standard of previous gold-winning years, with a display of tropical flowers and spices grown in Grenada.

Each and every passer-by commented on the vivid display of our plant life, which fed my imagination as a child. Acalypha hispida also known as ‘cat tails’ to my six-year-old self, would double up as hair extensions twined into my ‘dodo plaits’ and I spent hours putting Mimosa pudica leaves to sleep as if they were my dolls in need of a midday nap.

Fletcher Frank and Suzanne GaywoodGrenadian based Anthurium grower Fletcher Frank and Suzanne Gaywood displaying the Grenada/UK collaboration 

Our distinctive display wasn’t the only thing attracting the crowds. It was also the proud warm Grenadian smiles of Suzanne Gaywood, the orchestrator of team RHS Chelsea Grenada, Fletcher Frank who specialises in growing striking Anthurium cut flowers, a hero of the soil Lance Sergeant Johnson Gideon Beharry VC, Mr. Joslyn Whiteman The High Commissioner for Grenada in the UK and our Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel.

Suzanne Gaywood, Hon.Alexandra Otway-Noel and UK High Comissioner Joslyn WhitemanMinister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel and Mr. Joslyn Whiteman The High Commissioner for Grenada in the UK give a speech alongside Suzanne Gaywood

After an encouraging ‘book your ticket and come see’ speech to guest, British media attendees and sponsors of the Grenada stand, the Minister informed me of the importance of being present at RHS Chelsea.

 “Our flora is one of Grenada’s biggest attributes and Chelsea Flower Show is the best place to capture our target audience, who are people interested in the beauty of nature. There are thousands of people walking around, so having a Grenada stand gives us an opportunity to compete and show-off our beautiful flowers”, she added.

Sponsors with Flower Show TeamA group photo with the team and sponsors True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, Spice Island Beach Resort & Blue Horizons Garden Resort, Sandals LaSource Grenada, Mount Hartman Bay Estate and Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club. 

It was even more of a pleasure to meet Suzanne Gaywood in person, having interviewed her many moons ago for the 35th Grenadian Independence special of Everybody’s Caribbean magazine. She has been entrenched in the business of flower growing and exhibiting since the 80s. Even after all these years she still radiates with the excitement of a new-found love. 

‘This display is reminiscent of my childhood playing in the rainforest of Grand Etang and on Grand Anse beach. And, of course I had to put Grenadian spices through the middle. I love it! I’m in my sixties now and like a child I’m still fascinated by the rich lush vegetation of Grenada and I love sharing it. It makes me more happy when visitor come back and tell me they flew to Grenada because of my stand”, she proudly informed me.

Below are a few pictures I took of our impressive display, if you manage to get your hands-on a ticket before the 24th May, then do pay Grenada stand a visit, if you don’t then I’ve been informed we will be returning bigger and better next year.

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For more details on Chelsea Flower Show click here

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EDITORS DIARY: Fun Fun One Crab on the Run

launch nightPhotograph by Teddy Dwight Frederick

Dear Readers,

Have you ever met someone for the first time and after some good ole like-minded conversation thought, where have they been all your life! Have you ever had an elevated discussion best described as an adrenaline-powered race with a high five at the finish line?

If you have, then you will know how I felt when I met Grenadian Artist Stacey Byer on home soil back in December. This was one of the very few occasions that a mouthful of the Umbrella Beach Bar burger and ocean view could not silence me. Perched on the top deck overlooking Grand Anse Beach, we talked about life on the island; life in London; art; freelancing; features and culture. You name it we deliberated it.

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She told me about understanding her limitations as an artist in Grenada, but using these limitations to push herself to forge a path that involves her community. Efforts that not only fulfill, but inspire her to continue to show young Grenadian children that being an artist is as reputable as being a doctor. We talked about her voluntary efforts in children’s homes where she has experienced firsthand how intrinsic art is. How it fosters children’s imagination and develops their critical thinking skills.

There are loud activist and then there are silent doers. When I asked Stacey what she is doing to change the dismissive mentality towards creative careers she calmly explained, ‘I just enjoy what I do, it’s not about convincing the country about my artistic ability. If what I do changes the way a small minority of people think great! But I go out there and share my skills with young children because I can’.  And with that said, I would like to share with you what Stacey Byer has been up to since we interviewed her two years ago.

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She is currently working with Reach Grenada to plan a second summer art camp for children in foster care and coordinating a community mural for the new Mt Zion Children’s Library.

In 2012 Stacey met best selling Cuban author Mario Picayo after attending his talk on children in the Caribbean having access to multicultural books. The bold step to walk with her portfolio resulted in the 12-month process of illustrating the imaginative children’s book Fun Fun One Crab on the Run.

Stacey and Mario combined creative forces to ensure that Caribbean children see imagery that they are familiar with when learning to read and count by featuring mangoes and lizards and not apples and squirrels.

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The book for 3-6 year olds also promotes environmental conservation by featuring detailed illustrations of animals and plants found in nature, so it was no surprise when Stacey told me her stock sold out on the night of the book launch in Grenada.

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And, the great news is that Fun Fun One Crab on the Run was recently donated to one hundred and thirty pre-primary and primary schools across Grenada to support national initiatives in childhood literacy. This was with the support of local corporate sponsors NAWASA, Southern Electrical, Eco Dive, Country Cold Store, 3B’s Shoe Shop, Grenada Pharmacies, Wade Optical, Island Dental, Spice Isle Retreaders, Grand Anse Playgroup and the Sweetwater Foundation.

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When presenting the books to the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Government of Grenada in an official handover ceremony on Friday 28th February.  Permanent Secretary Ruth Elizabeth Rouse congratulated Byer on her accomplishment.

I would also like to congratulate Stacey on using her innate talent to inspire young Grenadian children.

Get your hands on this book here

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EDITOR’S DIARY: #HAPPYDAY

Dear Readers Happy International Day of Happiness!

Happiness fascinates me! I’m fascinated by how challenging it gets to literally ‘Be Happy’. The baby laughing out loud happy, the cat that got the cream happy or just to be as happy as Larry was. Sometimes I can’t turn my frown upside down because the creases in my forehead are crunching the ideas factory in my brain.

I remember being interrupted by ‘cheer up love’, while walking and crunching one day. I wasn’t unhappy, I was mentally pursuing happiness so that I could retire early (because I’d rather work to live than live to work).

‘Live in the moment not in the future’, the happy clan say, but if you were born a thinker, this is easier said than done. So, I have decided to embrace the moments that unravel my wrinkles and bring about a facial expression socially recognised as ‘Being Happy’.

1. Happiness is seeing a photograph of Steve Mcqueen, The Academy Award Winning Director of 12 Years a Slave, return to Grenada, the homeland of his mother.

EDITOR'S DIARY: #HAPPYDAY via @DiscoverGrenada

 2. Happiness is eating a West Indian meal cooked with love and plenty flavour.

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3. Happiness is having an outer body Carnival experience where you do things (involving paint, powder, wigs and waistlines) you wouldn’t normally do 364 days of the year.

1005826_733104983381883_2120302122_nNotting Hill Carnival 2013 Photographed by Frederique Rapier via Abir – The Colours of Life

4. Happiness is listening to my 104-year-old great grandmother recite the Our Father Prayer word for word.

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5. Happiness is Coconut Water with cute outfits on Karla’s Closets thrown in.

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6. Happiness is an Indian Head Massage with Nutmeg Oil for soothing and sedating over thinkers. You can buy Grenadian Nutmeg oil in the UK via Alberta’s Garden 

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7. Happiness is lazy hammock lounging under a beaming sun

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8. Happiness is a room with a jaw dropping view of the inspiring ocean

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What things, experiences or moments make you Happy?

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EDITOR’S DIARY: FOLLOW-UP FRIDAY

EDITOR'S DIARY: FOLLOW-UP FRIDAY

Dear Readers

I can’t tell you how often our ComplexdWomen amaze me.

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Back in January we featured Bahamian based photographer Lyndah Well’s and her gorgeous daughter Layla (here). Congratulations are in order as Lyndah recently welcomed a new addition to the family, a healthy baby girl named Sadie Arabella Chinenye Wells. And, just to emphasise the wonder in wonder woman, she has become a new mum all while planning and executing the launch of her latest collaborative project ‘Beneath the Hat’.

Bahamian women(L-R) Chantal Bethel, Lyndah Well, and Laurie Tuchel

Launched on International Woman’s Day, ‘Beneath the Hat’ features 18 portraits of Bahamian women wearing exquisite hats. Lyndah joined forces with Artist Chantal Bethel and writer Laurie Tuchel to ‘take their hats off’ to the numerous roles that women play. Whether the hat worn is of the mother, breadwinner, creator, or innovator the portrait and accompanying statement celebrate what these women love and are passionate about.

As much I’d love to visit the exhibition and bask in the crystal clear blue waters of the Bahamas, I’m enjoying the posts released each week on their events page (here).

Hats 01Ms. Beverly Chin

‘Every hat tells a story.

Every woman tells a story.

This exhibit tells both an ongoing story of the many hats women wear—their myriad passions and lives—as well as being an exploration of the changing tides and times of Bahamian culture; a culture in which historical, religious, occupation, fashion, and practical day-to-day moments are celebrated through the metaphor of hats.

Bahamas

“ Hats could be a metaphor for my journey right now. My favourite hat would be an elegant, wide-brimmed straw hat. I like to think about how people change hats in the same way that one’s own ideas or moods change. Hats are protective, elegant and expressive – and make a statement. I don’t own one of these designer straw hats, but one day I hope to in the same way that I hope my work will be expressive and elegant.” — Contemporary Mixed Media Artist, Piaget Moss 

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EDITOR’S DIARY: THE WOW EFFECT

EDITOR'S DIARY: THE WOW EFFECT L-R Gloria Ojulari Sule a British Nigerian Visual Artist and Yvonne Brennan an Irish Ghanaian Musician, Songwriter and Author of Small mercies sharing a moment. 

Dear Readers,

On my way back from WOW – Women of the World festival, I felt so WOWed that I had to write this facebook status.

‘When a woman is confident and speaks eloquently, intelligently and passionately it’s the sexiest thing in the damn world!’

The beauty of this festival held annually at Southbank Centre in London is that it attracts extraordinary women from all walks of life who have very valid experiences and concerns to share.

I could write about the events, exhibitions, debates and films, but that is not the long-lasting impression you’re left with after a day at WOW festival. The word that resonates is FREEDOM, the freedom to attend. To listen to women who have the freedom to speak and reciprocating because you have the freedom to share.

For most attendees the highlight was listening to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived an attempted assassination. Malala did not have as much freedom to speak, so when she put her concerns in words it nearly cost her, her life. Speaking at the We Day youth empowerment event yesterday she said: “I had two options, not to speak and die, or to speak and then die. I chose the second one.” To a packed audience at WOW festival she advised women in the UK to use social media to highlight issue’s girls are facing in India and Pakistani so that they know someone is speaking out for them.

I attended the Weave vs Natural? The Politics of Afro Hair talk chaired by British–Eritrean writer and journalist Hannah Pool and the Being Mixed Raced panel discussion and workshop led by Irish-Nigerian PhD Researcher Emma Dabiri. What I really enjoyed about both talks was the confident, intelligent and eloquently spoken women who felt they had the freedom to voice their opinions, ask questions, challenge the panel and share their experiences.

In closing I’d like to leave you with quotes from panel members and the audience.

Weave vs Natural? The Politics of Afro Hair

WOW festival 01Panel Speakers L-R – Crystal Afro of KinKdom, Natalie Clue of Beauty Pulse London, Hannah Pool Author of My Fathers Daughter, Angel Dike of The Natural Lounge and Sandie Okoro Chief Legal Counsel at HSBC

‘I confess to being a young girl, putting a towel over my head to emulate long blonde hair now I’m in love with my Afro’ – Hannah Pool

‘My hair is my accessory to express how I feel. Having the option to change it is my choice as a woman’ – Natalie Clue – Beauty Pulse London

‘Why don’t we engage in a discussion about healthy hair, rather than the politics of our hair’ – Audience Member

‘Be yourself, be comfortable with your hairstyle. If you try to be something other than yourself then you cant be comfortable with anything let alone your hair’. – Sandie Okoro – Chief Legal Counsel at HSBC

‘Natural hair is not a new movement, just because people blog and vlog about it doesn’t make it a movement, my mother and grandmother has been wearing their hair natural since the beginning of time’ – Audience Member

There is no avoiding the history and politics behind Afro hair, but we should not apply hierarchy to hair type, we are all different’  – Crystal Afro – Blogger of KinKdom

‘You are all older and self-assured women, what about the young impressionable women who are having real issues with their hair in schools. How are we going to address that and why don’t you consider doing talks in schools’. – Audience Member

Being Mixed Raced 

WOW festival 02Panel Speakers L-R Emma Dabiri Phd Researcher, Yvonne Brennan Author of Small Mercies, Sunita Pandya, Arts Producer at Southbank Centre and Artist Phoebe Collings-James

‘I was brought up in a white environment with Nuns who tried to stamp out my blackness because it was seen as dirty’ – Yvonne Brennan – Irish Ghanaian Author of Small Mercies

‘In my opinion I was British and that’s how I identified, until I went to university, was around the different sides of my family and started working. I became known as exotic at Uni, too contemporary for my Indian and Maltese family and either too Asian or not Asian enough with a name like Sunita’ – Sunita Pandya – Arts Producer at Southbank Centre

‘Why do people think its ok to ask ‘what are you?’ when they can’t figure out where you’re from’ – Audience Member

‘It shouldn’t be about colour, its about individuality’ – Yvonne Brennan author of Small Mercies

‘My dad is a tall black man with locs, my mum is white, my sister looks Indian and I’m fairer than my sister. Everything in my home made sense but the outside world treated us differently’. -  Artist Phoebe Collings-James

‘I feel fortunate that I was raised by a Black mother who taught me about my history and was able to prepare me for the fact that the outside world would see me as a black woman even though I am mixed and my dad is white’ – Audience Member

‘I am a Jamaican woman and I am about to get married to an Italian man, I was extremely nervous when we travelled to Sicily to met his family, but it all panned out fine’ – Audience Member

‘Among white people you are black and among black people you are white, you just have to love and accept yourself as a person and embrace the two beautiful cultures you have’ – Audience Member

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EDITOR’S DIARY: MILLION WOMEN RISE – 2014

Dear Readers,

On Saturday 8th March 2014, more than 10,000 crusaders will fill the bustling shopping streets of central London to remind every man, woman and child that ending violence against women is a collective goal.

 EDITOR'S DIARY: MILLION WOMEN RISE - 2014

Marching from Selfridges, the home of the big spenders and finishing at popular tourist attraction Trafalgar Square, Million Women Rise (MWR) is an effective International Woman’s Month event that really grabs the attention of residents and visitors.

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I learned about MWR through my childhood friend Simret Cheema Innis who marches every year. I was informed of the voluntary efforts of MWR organisers when working with Nina Kelly at the Guardian Newspaper. And, I am so pleased that our in-house Photographer Frederique Rapier is supporting the cause by spreading the word and capturing these heroic women in action.

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MWR is also supported by women’s organisations around the UK such as the SouthHall Black Sisters, the Women’s Resource Centre, Women and Girls Network, Imkaan and Rape Crisis England and Wales. It’s amazing to witness diverse groups of passionate women, drummers, whistlers, banner and placard holders come together to ensure that the silence and acceptance of all forms of violence against women is broken.

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Sabrina Qureshi, founder of Million Women Rise, said:

“Worldwide, one in three women will experience some form of violence in her lifetime. If violence against women were a disease, governments everywhere would be declaring a state of emergency. To do nothing is to accept this violation of our human rights and to say that those lives are valueless or less important than others.” 

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In our Gender Issue, Nina Kelly expressed her thoughts and concerns in an article titled, ‘Why Violence Against Women is Everyone’s Business’. Did you know, that in the UK…

  • One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life
  • One woman in four will experience sexual assault as an adult.
  • Two women are murdered every week by their partner or ex-partner
  • 250 cases of forced marriage are reported each year.
  • Up to 1,420 women per year are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation
  • More than 20,000 girls could be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK.

To voice the thoughts and concerns you feel strongly about the meeting point for the MWR march is at 12:00 noon on Duke Street, W1. The marchers set off at 1pm and the rally starts in Trafalgar Square at 3pm.

For more info visit http://www.millionwomenrise.com/ and follow www.facebook.com/MillionWomenRise

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