Cherise Harris wanted to create the perfect fete bag. She is the proud owner of the Wilhelmina Heart brand that also makes headties, among other accessories. (Picture by Antonio Medford.)
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When authorial illustrator Cherise Harris stepped outside her comfort zone, she awakened her fashionable side and was able to transform her drawings into ready-to-wear accessories.
Harris told EASY magazine that she sat on the idea for three years because she was unsure how to materialise the concept.
Even though she was uncertain about the outcome, the encouragement from friends and family and personal conviction that the idea would succeed, generated the right amount of motivation she needed to pursue her dream.
“There are so many different areas I could be involved in when it comes to illustration,” she said. “I do book illustrations and from that, I wanted to expand into fashion accessories because I saw it as a way to put my illustrations onto products people wear.
“So it is kind of wearable art for me.”
Harris, who earned a bachelor of fine arts from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and a master’s in illustration at Falmouth University in Britain, did not lose her interest in writing books and creating the images to match . . . . She simply saw fashion as a new and fresh way to express herself and bring her drawings to life.
“This is actually an idea I had from 2014 and it didn’t work out at that time. So at the start of 2017, I decided I would try again.
“My husband also encouraged me not to sit on the idea and I have been doing different workshops to gain more insight into running a business.”
So far, Harris has created the Wilhelmina Heart brand, which features a number of colourful Caribbean inspired headties and handbags. After completing the designs for the headties, she sends them to a fabric manufacturer overseas for custom printing. Once she is satisfied with the look and feel of the material, she works with a local designer who constructs the final product.
For the bags, Harris creates the designs and has them manufactured in China.
“I had an idea for a small bag that could hold the essentials. It is a leather and canvas crossbody/wristlet bag with compartments.
“Room is important to me especially when you are going out. So it can hold your phone, make-up and has a compartment to put your cash.”
Harris’ work not only has a tropical element but a fantasy aspect as well. She said she liked to mix fantasy with local adaptations to create unique art, adding that her brand captures both aspects in a “cool” and modern way.
It is for those reasons, she said, that her headties transcend hair texture and age.
Since Harris launched the brand at the end of July last year, she has showcased her work at Brighton and Holder’s Hill farmers markets and at the Barbados National Trust’s open house events.
After all the hard work it took to develop the brand, Harris is proud of what she has been able to achieve as an upcoming businesswoman. She said she was happy to share her colourful, whimsical and fun aesthetic, adding that the bags and headties give a simple outfit a pop of colour or that something extra it may need without looking overdone.
“I would say I design for a fun woman who likes to express herself through her accessories.
“Even if you wear solid colours the headties and bags bring out that quirky, fun and feminine cuteness of your outfit.”
In the future, the 30-year-old will be creating designs for larger bags, including totes, and branching into different accessories.
In light of the challenges she encountered during the start-up of her business venture, Harris encouraged other entrepreneurs to network with other businesspeople, participate in workshops, research the areas they were interested in and take advantage of social media platforms.
“One of the most notable things I learnt is that you don’t have to make everything yourself,” she said. “You may have an idea and think you should not pursue it because you cant make it but you can source people who can and focus on the design aspect.” (SB)