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In Shanika’s image

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

In Shanika’s image

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The old saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover” particularly applies to Shanika Grimes.
Who would think, from looking at this young lady, that her passion would be woodworking?
Shanika fell in love with woodworking while at Queen’s College. All it took was one project, making mirrors in her woodworking class, and Shanika was hooked.
“I love to be working with my hands, sawing away at wood,” Shanika revealed. “It’s the whole three-dimensional element of taking something that’s shapeless and making it into art.”
It’s hard to imagine that Shanika, who many, including herself, would describe as the ultimate “girly girl”, could be in her element sawing wood and making things.
“I am the girl that carves wood and paints my nails at the same time,” she says, laughing. “I love to be hands-on, sweating, sawing. I don’t have my power tools yet, but I’m there sanding. I love all the scratchy sounds the wood makes and it’s all very peaceful.”
While she may joke about her image, Shanika is very serious about her work. She is so committed that she has started her own business, Artist Made, for which she has created a line of decorative mirrors, wall hangings and other wooden accessories.
Shanika draws the designs first and then gets to work carving and sanding and creating the perfect finish to her work.
But she does admit that when she tells people what she does, they are often surprised and often expect her to be doing something else.
“I am not guided by other people’s perceptions of me,” she says.
That determined attitude has served Shanika well, especially when she found herself pregnant during the second year of doing her Bachelor’s degree.
“My mother was devastated because there were all these plans for me, because I was on the road to a scholarship to do my Master’s and she thought I was destroying my life. Everyone thought I would have had to drop out of school, and they were saying, “Your life is finished’,” Shanika said.
“But I love people to challenge me by telling me I can’t do something. I graduated with honours, so I am not the type of person that hardship . . . gets down. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant, obviously, but you have to try your best regardless of the situation.”
Now the mother of a two-year-old son and a wife, she has a life that is much fuller and more demanding than she had initially planned.
“Sometimes I’m out there sanding and I have to remember not to get any sawdust on the baby,” she said. “I have a lot of support, though, with my mother and in-laws to help us out. Marriage is very hard, but my husband and I are trying to manage it all.”
Though she admits that she was thrust into the world of adulthood, the responsibility doesn’t faze her.
“I’ve never felt like I was missing anything,” Shanika said. “I watch my friends go out and party every weekend and then go on Facebook and that’s it, so I’m not missing much.”
Shanika said that after she graduated and was faced with raising a child, everyone tried to steer her in the direction of teaching.
“I was listening to them, but my desire is to be an entrepreneur,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher because I am not a behind the desk kind of person. This is me saying that this is what I want to do. This is what I am good at and I need to do this. I knew that for me there was something more, and I’m not meant to be behind a desk listening to someone’s orders. I’ve made so many sacrifices being a wife and being somebody’s mother that I need to do this for myself.”
In an effort to launch her business, Shanika is hosting an art show at Art Splash, where she plans to showcase her work. She is also working with the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation to help develop her business model.
“This is who I am and I have to do this,” she said. “My plans are to live my authentic self. Art is everything that I stand for. It’s a way of speaking for me that I depend on when life gets hard.”