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Sweet dreams

Natanga Smith

Sweet dreams

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Writer, vlogger, song and spoken word performer, culinary entrepreneur, TV personality, president and founder of Chameleon Arts Promo, advocate for love.
All those roles describe one person – REBEL GLAM, real name Selena Dodson, 29, wife and mother of two children.
“The name REBEL GLAM is all about remaining glamorous while not conforming to society’s sense of beauty which is often warped and detrimental to young girls especially.
 “All those roles are because those are the things I am interested in. The “advocate for love” part is because self-love to me could really save women as a whole. We need it and I speak about it in all my work.
“Spoken word is the realness in me. My spoken word is not separate from me at all. It is how I think, it is what I believe, it is me being true to myself. Anything that charges me emotionally will get a spoken word piece or a song out of me.”
REBEL GLAM has performed at different places with her creativeness and has cultivated an event called D Arts Lime to nurture artistes.
“Right now I feel proud of myself. I may not be rich but I feel I have covered everything that I thought was important. We all have work to do but I really love myself. I would like to develop more in the three fields I love – food, writing and art, as a performer and a show host and as far as getting my work known all over the world. I definitely have a lot to share.”
Let’s talk first about the writing and art, I said.
“I do my writing wherever. I have written poems on napkins, I have over 200 song clips in my phone. It’s a natural thing for me, if I hear a beat and I like it, I will probably write a song. I do fling-type pieces (Azman’s influence) and rap style. I currently take voice training lessons because I can sing but I want to sing very well . . . . I did an album in 2012.”
On the art side she likes the rainbow and all these colours are incorporated into her pieces.
“I use colours a lot in all of my art forms. I mention them in poems, I contrast them on plates and I paint very bright pictures. Most of my art work is in the form of paintings but I also really love oil pastels and have replaced paint with them, using them on canvas recently. My art is very personal. My art work emotion doesn’t come to me as often as the food, music or poetry, so it is very special when I feel to create a piece of art work, I cherish them.”
Delving into the food side, she became more expressive and passionate and this is where she opened up more. REBEL GLAM is a culinary natural and has many praises showered on her Facebook page about her delectable pastries and cakes.
“Many know me as Rebel Glam Cupcake Queen,” she said with a smile. She is the proud owner of Intimate Catering and Ultimate Cupcakes by Intimate Catering.
The name came about because she is a romantic at heart and “although I can be tough, it is really because my heart is soft and I care about a lot of people. My favourite sweet is cupcakes. So I named myself Cupcake Queen. Cupcakes are lovely. They are diverse, they are individually portioned and you do not need a fork.”
Selena grew up in Barbados from the age of six, but was born in New York,  United States. Her mum is Jamaican and dad is Barbadian.
“I often relate to more a Jamaican mindset but I really love Barbados, just wish we would love ourselves more and get true pride and industry going. It is not about who you know or where you went to school or who likes you, it is about a foundation of excellence and a strong belief in self, a strong love of self. Once you master that, anything you produce can go worldwide.
She gets her “hand-me-down talent” from “both of my grandmothers who were known for their food. Both were very good bakers”.
With schooling at Good Shepherd Composite school, and Barbados Community College where she did English literature and Spanish because “I love writing, I decided I wanted to be a chef and tested it out by working in several places. Then I went back to BCC PomMarine and did culinary arts.”
After working in several places beefing up her culinary skills, she suffered a back injury and gave up on her executive chef dream and started Intimate Catering.
“I like baking, I like getting it just right and making something that becomes a taste experience and that is what I strive for with my food. I am not about pretty things where taste is sacrificed so a cake can look like a tree,” she said, laughing.
“I like well presented food that has nothing done to it that may sacrifice the level of deliciousness and I am a natural woman who prefers natural products of a high standard. I do not make cupcakes, I make ultimate cupcakes. I do not make food, I make taste experiences.”
As Rebel Glam Cupcake Queen she doesn’t have a go-to ingredient: “I just like Caribbean vibes because I am a Caribbean woman… coconut, mango, golden apple, plantain, anything so sorrel, spices . . . . Anyone who has seen me cook can attest to this.”
Rebel Glam has taken formal recipes and tweaked them to match her style. All her cakes except cheesecake are lactose free, because she doesn’t use much lactose herself.
“I have vegan clients I cater to as well. All these recipes I created based on my knowledge of baking science. Baking is a little bit technical and it is nice to have the years under your belt. I have made some mistakes and learnt from them but generally there are enough good recipes out there and if one uses the Internet, one can learn a whole lot. All you need is drive and you can learn anything, drive and discipline.”
 That discipline and drive has helped her succeed in a “male-dominated industry. I say my prayers and I work hard. My challenges have been ignorant customers, prejudiced people . . . . There are many ups to my business. I was able to do my own thing, not always but more often than if I worked for someone else. I have been allowed to be versatile in my hustle and have explored all sorts of options. I have learnt in all forms of culinary arts because I make all types of food and have cooked for millionaires and interesting people who I would have never met otherwise.
Since starting her business she says she has learnt to:?“Always do your best. You cannot please everybody. Do not give up, get creative and learn different ways to market. Also sell something people want. Do not limit yourself and ignore limited people who will try to limit you. Everyone is attracted to beautiful, so presentation of yourself and your work matters. Do not post something on facebook that looks horrible just because you know it tastes great.”
After all this and you still are wondering why she looks vaguely familiar and it’s not from her Facebook page, it is because of her stint on TV.
“I got started December 2012 doing Eggonomics Sweet Treats on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. That stint has finished and due to a good response from Eggonomics, I am hosting my own show, Rebel Glam’s Kitchen. TV has always been a dream of mine. The response has been great since it aired New Year’s Day, so we will see.”