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Natural art for wearing

Green Bananas Media

Natural art for wearing

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Sandra Stanley has done what some people would like to do but are afraid.

Back in 2012, she took a leap of faith, gave up her full-time paying job to resume designing and making African-inspired clothing and start making eco-friendly jewellery.

“I was actually working as a secretary and one of the girls said: ‘Sandy, they’ve got a paper making jewellery course, I bet you’ll like that’. So, I went but she didn’t come and I enjoyed it and that’s how I got started.

“I started after BMEX in June 2012 but while I was doing the secretarial work, I was still doing my pieces. I like art and you never stop doing it. I like upcycling, it just fell into place for me,” the owner of de Verte Pappier told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY in between answering questions about her pieces at the recent An Evening At Ilaro Court.

The entrepreneur found a way to upcycle old jeans into bags, clutches and earrings, incorporate royal palm into bags and make black pearl earrings from the seeds of Mumbo Gumbo tree, which she dyes into about four or five colours.

“I started upcycling from university because you know you don’t have much money to spend and you go to the charity shops and then you turn one thing into another. Now, I’ve started upcycling again,” she said, before pointing out a bag made from the upper part of an old pair of jeans.

“When I went to Oistins to teach the paper [jewellery making] course, I included this in it.

“You’ve got your jeans at home, even your little baby jeans you can use for clutch bags. You get the pockets and because I like dying some of them, I did this and then you can use the side pockets. You can use a whole pair of jeans,” she said.

Making bags or clutches from the pockets does not take long “because I know what I’m doing”. She cuts what she needs from the jeans and goes from there including adding zips and in about 30 minutes, whatever she is making is done.

The jewellery, however, is a different story.

“Sometimes, you get flight of fancy. Sometimes, you’re lying down in your bed and you think of something … you get up and write it down. If I can cut it out and do it the same time, I would do it,” Stanley said, with a laugh.

The businesswoman likes to use natural material and when she participated in a fibre and seeds project put on by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), using seeds and fibres such as those from the royal palm was something she had to try.

“Making the jewellery was easy and there is a bag, a hat and a scarf. Making sets of jewellery came from when I lived in England where I worked at a department store at the concession department where we did separates.

“We had lots of different things you could match together, so it is natural for me. When I design, I actually have different bits and bobs you can choose from.

“The royal palm bag did take me some time to make because I’m not used to the basketry. The ladies who do baskets, what they actually do is soak the palm so that it’s pliable but I stitched it on. I just got piece that I thought was a nice shape and I just stitched it on. When I showed the others what I had done and what difficulties I’d had, they said you’re supposed to soak it first and that would make it more pliable. They knew.

“I did have some fails and trials trying to make the same hat because it wasn’t bending how I wanted it to. I was using things like oil and beeswax to make it soft,” the member of the Women Entrepreneurs of Barbados said.

Stanley learnt how to do tie dyed clothing with the BIDC when it hosted visitors from Colombia and she noted that everything she learns she tries to put into practice.

“It’s no use learning something and don’t do anything with it,” she said, before breaking into a laugh.

The designer is bent on sharing her knowledge and has taught two courses in Oistins, one at the Irving Wilson School and now she teaches at Chrysnic Creative Workshop.