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Flower power

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Flower power

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Carla-Marie Layne was a quintessential girl growing up, playing with dolls, dressing them up, but with one little twist – she was drawing sketches for the clothes she wanted her dolls to wear.
  Fast forward to the present. Carla-Marie’s dolls have now been replaced by people of all shapes and sizes. Carla-Marie has now blossomed into a fashion designer, creating sketches and custom-designed outfits for adults with her own special flair.
   The former Barbados Community College student said she and her family had a sense she was headed in this career direction.
   “I was a creative child, always drawing houses, structures and scenery, so my parents knew where I was headed,” Carla-Marie said. “I graduated from BCC in 2007, where I studied fashion design and received an associate degree. That taught me a lot about my limits and to push myself further than I thought.”
  It was her studies at BCC that further strengthened her determination to make fashion design more than just a pipe dream. While she was grateful for the opportunity to study, she said the experience was not an easy one.
    “I thought I couldn’t meet the deadlines and that I couldn’t come up with something good enough for projects,” Carla-Marie said. “It broke me out of my shell. Growing up, I was very shy.
   “It had a lot to do with presenting projects, and explaining how I would execute design. It forced me to stand up for myself and my designs and what I believed in.”
   Perhaps in finding that courage, Carla also found a niche in nature that she has since incorporated in many of her designs.
  “My fashion line is called “Simplicity Refined” based on my love for exotic flowers. I chose 15 different flowers that I liked and each dress is cut and styled according to the flower that is hand-painted on it,” she said. “When I introduced the line at Barbados Fashion Week last year, I got a lot of positive feedback. People like the fresh, vibrant colours. Basically, the line is white with colour and I hand-paint everything myself.”
   Carla’s designs have been a source of positive feedback from family and friends as well.
  “Since graduation, I started to do outfits for family and friends, advertise myself through them. It was only after the birth of my daughter that I really started to focus on my line. When I found out I was pregnant with her, I was really sick, so I couldn’t do anything with designing.”
  She also previewed some of her designs at the recently-held Barbados Music Awards.
  “I did an outfit for myself, my cousin and another lady who was plus size,” she said. “It felt good that I could do stuff and have it worn at an event such as that and to know that no one else would have on what I had on.”
   Carla-Marie admitted that motherhood has made her more focused to be a success in her career.
  “It made me more determined to get myself recognised for my work,” Carla-Marie said.  “At the end of the day, I want her to know that it doesn’t matter what you go through in life, you can still push forward for your goals. She’s my motivation.”