Don Foster and Shakara Seale explaining how Bead Gang 246 works. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
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What started as a labour of love has turned into one of the biggest trends in Barbados.
When Shakara Seale began dating her then boyfriend Don Foster, she noticed his love for wearing beaded bracelets.
His obsession with them is what prompted her to make them for the man she loves.
“Don has always had a love for beaded bracelets and when we started dating he would always be buying bracelets. Every time we go somewhere, he would want to buy another bracelet. So I sat down and I thought about it and I said ‘this looks like something I could make for him rather than him going out and buying them all the time”.
“So I did the research in terms of where to get the beads from, how much it would cost and so on. And I told him I think I’m going to start a new hobby. I told him ‘I would be making beaded bracelets and I would be making them for you so you won’t have to keep going out and buying them,” she explained.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Shakara and her fiancé Don have formed a company, Bead Gang and Co, through which they market and sell the much loved bracelets.
“When I made the first set of bracelets, he liked it so much he took photos of it and posted them to his Facebook account and everyone loved it and kept requesting them, so we decided to make them and sell,” Shakara said.
She said the bracelets take her as little as ten minutes to make, all depending on her mood.
“We both conceptualise the bracelets but I do most of the making. Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to do a concept, sometimes it takes me an hour. It’s just about how I feel at the time. Persons also come with their own ideas. We are fully customisable. If you see something that you would like just tell us and we would try to do it for you.”
The beads are definitely trending.
Don told Easy he was blown away by how much people loved the beads and how well business had been going in just over a year.
“We started in July 2016. We’ve had a good response from Barbados and it keeps growing bit by bit and we keep evolving in terms of the designs we make and the marketing. I’m responsible for the marketing and we try to keep it as clean as possible, classy and very international in the look,” he said.
“I wanted to create a family of like-minded people, so I thought in order to encompass that it would be like a gang. From that we brainstormed and we thought that BG& Co would be our company name and Bead Gang would be the line.”
Shakara said they were not interested in overpricing their items
“We try to make it affordable. We said from the get go we do not want to be one of those overpriced companies. We keep it at the bare minimum so the average Bajan can be a part of the Bead Gang and because the product is so affordable, people have been using them as gifts for gift exchanges at work and so on,” she said.
Don stressed that they were able to keep their bracelets at an affordable cost because everything was done out of love.
“I feel as if everything we do is a labour of love. Everything that we do started and continues with love. When we started the business, we were dating then we got engaged. Everything that we put out there for Barbadians is made with love. It’s about our personal style. We would go 100 per cent to put the best product out there”.
And now this couple is making plans to take the business even further.
“For us, we do want to diversify. From here, we want to go to a beachwear brand, under the Bead Gang name. We are going to start with T’s. We are going to do some designs of bathing suits as well. What I’m really excited about is doing beachwear for children. Then after that, we will get into mainstream clothing,” Don added. (DB)