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Four BVI Fashionistas

The BVI is a treasure trove of talented people, and many are in our fashion industry. We profile four of our very own fashionistas. By Anika M. Christopher

From models to designers to stylists, the Virgin Islands has no shortage of creatives in the world of fashion. If you want to pursue a career in the fashion industry, or just simply have a love for all things creative, then let us introduce you to a list of four fashion figures who will inspire you with their stories of success.

Akeema Crabbe

make-up artist

While makeup was not something she was exposed to growing up, with a keen eye for beauty, Akeema Crabbe exuded artistic talent early on. As a child, Akeema fostered a love for painting and this proved to play vital role in her ability as a make-up artist when she was first introduced to makeup by a girlfriend in college.

“I started dibbling and dabbling and the art form quickly became natural for me since painting was a childhood hobby,” Akeema tells us. Today, Akeema is a professional make-up artist who places women’s empowerment at the centre of everything she does, as seen through her fresh, flawless and feminine looks that bring out the beauty in every woman.

“Nothing beats the smiles I receive from a woman whose beauty I was able to enhance with my talent and techniques. That sense of joy is everything for me,” Akeema says with a smile. Akeema’s looks are always in keeping with the latest style, drawing inspiration from various creative places, including timeless red carpet looks and artists like Mali Thomas, Nicky Posley and Nikki Wolff.

Throughout her journey, Akeema has been able to work and train under a number of celebrity makeup artists like Ashunta Sherriff-Kendricks and John Alfred Nelson. For the past 10 years, she has also been the hair and makeup coordinator for Summer Sizzle BVI, a fashion weekend held in the Virgin Islands. Working in this position granted her the opportunity to go to New York Fashion Week in 2014 and be a part of a team of well-established makeup artists in the industry. Some of her clients to date has been Chrisette Michelle, Khoudia Diop, Epress Janelle, and Yvette Noel-Schure (Beyonce’s publicist), just to name a few.

Currently, Akeema is developing the educational aspect of her business as she is passionate about teaching women how to do their own makeup and passing on her knowledge. “My approach is very customised as everyone’s makeup needs are different,” Akeema says. She offers one-on-one makeup sessions and she also does small group sessions with a maximum of four women. Whether it be a personalised makeup lesson or a make-up appointment to prepare you for your special event, Akeema can come and give you the ultimate make up experience. The bottom-line: “Stay true to your art form and your signature and master that. You will never be for everybody. Once you figure out your niche, the clients who are a perfect fit for you will follow.”

Susanna Ophelia

cosmetologist

Susanna Ophelia is a talented BVI-born hair stylist with a creative approach and strong attention to detail. From the age of 9, Susanna would be spotted braiding and styling the hair of her mum, siblings and even members of the wider community. She eventually went on to work at a salon as a shampoo girl where she gained more knowledge of the salon environment. She grew to love the industry immensely, seeing people leaving the salon transformed and with new-found confidence.

Despite possessing a natural talent, Susanna didn’t embark on a career in cosmetology right away.

“I worked many jobs related to accounting,” Susanna told us. “But I was not happy.”

She would find herself doing her coworkers hair in the cafeteria during lunch time. It was at this moment that Susanna realised that this was her true passion and calling. She then made the decision of a lifetime to move abroad and study cosmetology.

“I attended Dudley Cosmetology University and graduated second place in my class of 1991. I’ve been operating ever since.”

Ignited by an entrepreneurial spirit, Susanna decided to return to the Virgin Islands and start her business.

From haircuts to hair extensions, The Cut Above salon, located in Virgin Gorda, offers a wide array of beauty services. With Susanna’s vast experience, combined with training by some of the industry’s most respected professionals, the salon sees to it that clients are transformed into the best versions of themselves.

“Our main goal is to promote healthy hair. We teach about how to feed your body properly to keep hair and skin hydrated,” Susanna added. The salon also offers beauty services for destination weddings and hotel/villa guest. Since April 2021, Susanna expanded her brand by starting a privately owned beauty school called Sajae Institute of Beauty that offers courses on all area of cosmetology.

“People can browse through our website and sign up for classes where we will tailor to each individual’s need,” Susanna added. Currently, she is in the process of partnering with the Minister of Education to have students attend from forms three to five, where they can obtain a license and certificate. She also plans to offer internships where students can begin developing their businesses until they leave school. The bottom-line: “You will know your calling if it’s a natural gift. You don’t have to stay behind a chair for rest of your life. Find you niche and build on it.”

Kristin Frazer

fashion designer

“I didn’t choose fashion, fashion chose me.” Over the past 13 years, Kristin Frazer, founder and design director of Trèfle Inc., has transformed the fashion world, creating high-end clothing and accessories that we simply can’t get enough of. Born from an inheritance of fabric and fashion, Kristin’s love of the industry was instilled in her at a very young age. At the tender age of 7, her passion blossomed when she received her first real sewing machine. “My mother was tired of me going into her things all the time,” Kristin says with a laugh. “One of the first things I started making were bandanas that I sold in my grandmother’s store”.

In her senior year at the then BVI High School, she chose home economics that focused on clothing and textiles. In 2002, she went on to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Marketing at the International Academy of Design and Technology, now renamed Sanford Brown in Tampa, Florida, and in the spring of 2006, interned for Carolina Herrera and BCBG Max Azria. In 2008, Kristin officially made her debut in the fashion industry with her launching of Trèfle. To pay homage to the life and legacy of her late grandmother, Ruth Clover Anthony, she named her business after her grandmother’s fstore, Clover’s.

“The name Trèfle is French for clover,” Kristin explained, adding that as a third-generation seamstress (turned designer) it was important to have a label that reflects that. It goes without saying that Kristin has certainly made her family proud. Over the past 13 years, she started with swimwear and over time introduced resort wear, kids-wear, activewear, home furnishings, accessories and consulting. Some of her many successes include press mentions in local, regional and international magazines like Essence, Marie Claire, Ebony and Harper’s Bazaar, along with celebrity endorsements from Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, June Ambrose and more.

The bottom-line: “There is never a right time to start … you just have to start. There is never a one-night hit of success … you just have to be consistent. There is never the word ‘ugly’ in fashion …you just have to know that there are seven billion people in the world and someone will like it. That’s enough to keep going.”

Stacy France

fashion retailer

Whether it was a piece of jewellery, clothing, a bag, the making of a magazine, or even designing a photoshoot, Stacy has always been intrigued by the fashion process. She gets her passion for creating fashionable things and natural design sense from her mother.

“Growing up, I was always inspired by my mum who had an amazing sense of fashion. She taught my sister and I the importance of investing into quality, timeless pieces rather than trying to keep up with trends,” Stacy told us.

After learning more about the world of fashion, Stacy developed an even greater appreciation for the industry and its craftsmanship. This naturally led to her wanting to pursue a career revolving around fashion.

“As a creative you always look at the world in a different light and becoming an entrepreneur gives you the freedom to expand your creativity and master your skills to its highest ability whilst doing what you love,” Stacy says.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020, Stacy launched Nami Resort & Swim. Nestled in the Romasco Place, in the heart of Road Town, Nami Resort & Swim is a luxury boutique that provides high-end resort wear and swimwear from international designers from around the world, who exclusively work with top-grade fabrics such as silks, cotton, linens and much more. They carry lines such as Myra Swim, Farm RIO, Baiia Swim and Joslin Studio. Apart from resort wear and swimwear, Nami Resort & Swim also has their own collection of room fragrances called Day & Evening, which was designed with the idea of everyday chic and elegant living. She and her husband are currently working on some new and exciting projects that will help expand the brand in the near future.

The bottom-line: “My advice to someone who is coming up in this industry is trust your gut, be your authentic self and surround yourself with people who will help you grow and do what you love.”

To contact these talented ladies:

Akeema Crabbe, make-up artist – akeema.crabbe@gmail.com Susanna Ophelia, cosmetologist – susanna.ophelia@yahoo.com Kristin Frazer, Trèfle – kfrazer@trefledesigns.com Stacy France, NAMI Resort & Swim – namibvi@gmail.com

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