After the fashion of swimwear
Young bajan designer living her dreams
Chenique Janine Jones is a young Barbadian designer who is interested in anything pertaining to fashion.
At 22, Chenique believes her dreams have already started to come true. Being involved in fashion from early, it seemed that was the place for her to be –– even though at the time she did not know it.
“I guess being in the fashion industry from such a young age, as a model, it was something that was in me. I just didn’t know that was something I wanted to do.
“I didn’t do art at school. And when I was younger I was banned from art; so it was something that I just enjoyed but didn’t have the opportunity to do then. But when I got to the place where I did have the opportunity, I took it and I just ran with it,” the young designer said.
Her line Janique Couture, a titular combination of her first and middle name, focuses mainly on swimwear for now, and her edgy designs have been catching the attention of both young and old in Barbados.
“So far, the response has been positive. I cannot thank Barbadians enough, because without their giving me the constant support that I have been getting, I would not be as far as I am today. A long way to go yet, but still the support is what motivates me to continue,” the petite Chenique added.
And while making swimwear might not be as popular in the region, Chenique is adamant that it is popular in Barbados, and swears she loves it and plans to stick with it.
“For me swimwear was what I was accustomed to modelling –– even though when I first started out, my mum was like, ‘I don’t really want you in swimwear’. So I think that kind of had something to do with it. Knowing that I got to the age where I was able to do it, and make it into something that she was comfortable with, from there it just evolved,” she said.
Chenique believes the support of her parents as well was instrumental in her success so far.
“From the beginning until now.”
There was a time when Chenique wanted to be a paediatrician; but even with her drastic change to design, she yet got the support of her parents, which many others may not have benefited from in such a switch.
“[My parents] told me, ‘If it is something that you enjoy, stay focused on it and we will support you. And that’s exactly what they have done; and it hasn’t changed,” she added.
Designing and art were not always on the agenda for Chenique, who grew up in Tortola. In fact, she did not pursue art at school.
“I was crazy about art, but never did it at school. My mother banned me from art because I used to spend more time doing it than my schoolwork; and I do not blame her because it actually gave me the opportunity to be exposed to different subjects –– things that I would not have done if I was doing art.”
Chenique has been studying in London, and was recently accepted into the London College Of Fashion where, starting in September, she will pursue a degree in fashion couture.
For the young designer, inspiration comes from everything.
“On my course that I just completed, I did a collection which was based on cancer. Cancer and Egyptian culture. When you put the two together, it’s like two completely different aspects, but to me it was the style of the Egyptian culture: the way the women dressed. Then, I used a cancer cell print to create the garments. From there that was it. I always play around with ideas,” Chenique explained.
She believes she is where she wants to be. And it is working out for her financially, given that she is a student. She makes designs on an order-based plan.
“Currently, because I am at school, it works for me; but I guess when I finish school that’s when the financial thing will come into play in terms of getting stuff manufactured and so on. But right now, having 100 orders for a particular time can’t work for me. I prefer to do it the way I am doing it right now, because I get to focus on school and my business,” she added.
While she has no concrete plans for the future yet, one thing is certain: she plans to have her own store.
“There are lots of ideas in my mind right now where I would like to carry Janique Couture, but to say right now that any plans are concrete, I can’t. It’s fashion. It’s always evolving and right now I am kind of enjoying the adventure of not knowing, but still having ideas of where I would like to take it.
“In Barbados, I would like to have my own store on the West Coast where you can come in and choose your stuff, but still being able to have something different. I want that when someone comes into my store, they leave knowing I have something that is unique,” she said.
The young designer hopes too to get into the markets of Britain and the United States –– particularly California, Los Angles and Miami, “the swimwear capitals”.
Chenique, who describes her journey so far as fantastic, believes “it’s okay to be unique –– just be yourself. In fashion you have the opportunity to do whatever you want . . .”.