Bajan fashion designer Shanice Taylor is still on a high several weeks after she launched her branded business Designs by Shanice Taylor on September 30, 2021.
The reality of her actualised dream still settling in, the entrepreneur has declared that none of it would have been possible without the assistance she received from the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). “Without the NCF grant, I could not get it done,” she stated categorically.
Taylor, 29, shot to both local and international attention in May 2021 after Bajan superstar Rihanna posted a photo wearing one of her designs, a purchase made by Rihanna’s best friend Melissa Forde. She admits that her life changed for the better after that day.
“After that post, I realised this could be a full-time job so it pushed me more to expand, be more creative and more visible,” she said.
Ironically, at the time, the designer was operating from her Westbury, St Michael home. The same district where Rihanna grew up.
Stating that remarkable things started to happen since then, Taylor said one of the most significant and touching things she experienced was a call she received from Chief Executive Officer of the NCF, Carol Roberts-Reifer.
“When the NCF CEO called me, I was in shock because I never expected to hear Carol Roberts calling my phone. She started to explain to me that the Foundation wanted to help more young people go after their dreams.
“Carol told me that everyone needs a helping hand. She explained so much to me. She told me she wanted to introduce me to other people who could assist as well. I was like okay, okay. I was simply in shock for the entire conversation, but by the end of it I was like whatever you want to do, I am down for it. I never expected anyone to reach out to me and help me the way she did,” an elated Taylor said.
The designer said she knew nothing about the Cultural Industries Development Fund Grant Programme at the time. The grants are offered to creatives through the NCF’s Business Development Department.
“I knew nothing about the NCF Grant programme. I was extremely happy after she informed me about the grant. The grant provided funds that really helped me to push forward my idea. At the time, I had no idea where money was coming from for me to start to do what I wanted to do. I was so thankful and so happy,” she shared.
Taylor explained that the money she received now puts her in a position to have staff. She described the NCF Grant as invaluable. “Thanks to the grant, I got all of my materials and the things I needed to get the business up and running. I am also able to employ people. This was tremendous because doing crochet is not a one-person thing, especially when I am trying to bring a company which has multiple orders coming in. I surely can’t do it all by myself, so the grant was extremely helpful.”
Taylor, who started to crotchet in November 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the advice from the NCF CEO also pointed her in the direction of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) and she was offered her studio space to operate the business.
“The grant is helpful. I didn’t know about it at the time, but if there are ways that I can help others know about the NCF grant, I will do it. If there is an opportunity for me to express my experience so that someone else can benefit, I will. These are hard times and as Carol said ‘everyone needs a helping hand’.”
Prior to her crotchet business, she was the owner of a retail store for two years, but ended that business arrangement due to the pandemic. The businesswoman offered some advice to those still dreaming, but hoping to make their dream a reality someday.
“Business is hard. If you are going into a business by yourself, do not look at it as an easy road because you are fooling yourself. This is an everyday thing. Every day you have to go at it. You don’t have off-days. If you want to do it, you have to set your mind to it. It is tireless, sometimes you may feel as though you want to quit. Attack it with everything you have and give it your best,” Taylor said.