Where in Barbados are you from and how has your upbringing or maybe experiences coming up in Barbados maybe influence your passion for fashion?
I’m originally from Redman’s Village, St. Thomas, Barbados. Growing up, to be honest I cannot say I had a passion for fashion in the traditional sense of the word, nor had I been interested in fashion, or weddings when growing up. My passion for bridal fashion is very new. It’s not something that I thought about growing up. Growing up most of the wedding dresses I saw I disliked, I always found them to be ugly, they looked heavy, there were toooooo white, they looked stiff and uncomfortable, and sometimes ill-fitting.
What I always had a passion for is creating things with my hands. I have two sisters, and growing up we were all creative and loved arts and crafts. My mom has always encouraged our creativity in the arts and craft. Growing up, each summer she made sure that we learned/developed a new skill in this area, one summer it was jewelry making, another summer it was weaving and basketry, then pottery, ceramics, crochet …the list goes on. One summer we did sewing, I was about 13 years. Each summer was something new and fun to learn.
But that’s as far as our creative talent went, it didn’t escape the summer. Once school started back, it was back to the books. Creative skills and talents were not nurtured as possible/successful careers and as I got older the dreaded question was often asked “What you wanna be when you grow up?” And sadly there were only a few ‘correct’ answers – doctor, lawyer, engineer….you get the idea. So I chose to pursue a career in Civil Engineering.
Can I just add here that my sister Kaye showed me it was ok to NOT pursue a traditional career. She was accepted into various universities for Engineering and Medicine. But instead she chose to pursue a career in fashion design. When she started her studies I was in Canada studying civil engineering. I always thought she was so brave to go the non-traditional route. When I returned home after my studies she was studying at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Then She graduated designer of the year. And then Adidas quickly grabbed her up. It’s funny though, we never really talk about fashion. Her sense of style is very different to mine.
How did you transition from engineering to Wedding Dress Designer? What did that look like?
For years I found myself wondering ‘What the f**k am I doing with my life?’ I found myself drifting along in a career that didn’t excite me, crying on Mondays, and praying everyday for the weekend to hurry come. To top it off, my bank account looked like crap, and it didn’t look like it would be improving anytime soon. I knew I wanted to quit my job and find something more creative and fulfilling, but I had no idea what I wanted to do!!
Luckily, I was temporarily placed on part-time, and that’s when I started a side hustle, making flower headbands and body chains, it was summer time in Barbados and they sold amazingly well! This was my first taste of entrepreneurship, and it felt gooood! It felt sooooo amazing to be creative! I wanted more!
So, I began to think about what my passions were and what I could do that would allow me to quit my job! I knew I loved all things weddings and lifestyle (I had a Pinterest obsession to prove it!). This lead me to discovering my passion in weddings, specifically luxury outdoor weddings and gorgeous destination weddings. So I decided to use the flower headbands to transition into bridal wear and accessories. This lead me to designing and creating custom-designed luxury wedding dresses. I was loving what I was doing!! And on my 29th birthday I quit my job after a year of having my business as a side hustle. OMG quitting felt so gooood, it was the best birthday gift ever!
How and when did you learn to design gowns?
I started back in 2015, I had no previous experience in designing or creating high end gowns. To be honest it’s a natural talent, combined with the passion for gown design and the obsession to learn. Naturally I have my design style, and design point of view. I know what I like and what I dislike when it comes to design and style. When it comes to design I trust my gut, and go with what feels right and is in alignment with my style and brand. I’m entirely self-taught. I’m not formally trained nor do I a fashion degree nor fashion back ground. I’m constantly learning and improving, there’s always something new to learn!
Can you elaborate on how you create and perhaps how you maybe draw on your skill as Civil Engineer?
When I create it all starts with my inspiration. I’m obsessed with luxury outdoor weddings and gorgeous destination weddings, I love the beautiful floral designs, the gorgeous decor and unique personal elements of modern weddings. I especially love outdoor weddings. And this is where my passion lies, as well as my inspiration. When I see images of outdoor weddings, I am inspired by the naturally beautiful setting, luxury, lush florals, gorgeous décor, relaxed chilled atmosphere, a sense of freedom, pure enjoyment, dancing under the stars, free to love and free to enjoy. I absolutely love the way I feel when I look at images of these types of weddings. It’s all so inspiring, and for me that’s how weddings should look and feel, and that’s also how a bride should feel.
A bride should look and feel refreshingly beautiful, gorgeous, effortless, and natural – this is my inspiration and what I want my dresses to reflect. I like my dresses to be beautiful, light, airy, effortless, romantic, feminine, sexy, and this all forms the basis of design and creative process. When I design and create, the physical process starts with the selection of fabrics. I select fabrics that I know will achieve the look I am going for, I love soft flowing fabrics, sparkling delicate fabrics, and gorgeous floral laces, and my imagination runs wild as I imagine them moving, sparkling and falling on the body. Working with lace is a huge part of my creative process, the lace is all cut out individually and hand applied on the dresses to form a flattering and unique design. There is a lot of thought and design that goes into the placement of the lace. Followed by the multiple hours that then go into sewing the lace and beads in place.
I’ve always been creative, it’s always been a part of me, I have been creative long before I even knew what Civil Engineering was. My creative process is organic, free, and beautiful and inspiring, and constantly evolving. As a creative person, I’ve always loved design, and creating things with my hands. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of turning an image in my mind into reality and then watch as the design and creative process evolves. That’s what design is for me – to imagine something and then create it, and allow the creative process to evolve. My skills as an engineer are more technical, and rigid. I do not use my engineering skills in my creative process. However, what I can say is that my experiences from school (high school, and university) and working in a professional career have taught me a few things that I apply in my business such as data management, time management, contract writing, report writing, human resources, management, etc.
Where does your love of wedding gowns in particular come from?
It comes from my obsession with luxury outdoor weddings and gorgeous destination weddings and my desire to see gowns that are perfect for these settings. Gowns that are light, airy, beautiful, romantic, feminine, stunning, magical and effortless. I wanted to create gowns that reflect these weddings that I’m obsessed with, and that lead to an obsession for gowns.
How would you describe a Jaye Applewaite Bride? She is …
She has an overall vision for her wedding style, she knows how she wants to look and feel – beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, feminine, sexy, and effortless. And she wants the perfect dress that will reflect all her desires.
Tell us about the theme of your most recent collection
I’m actually planning on creating a new collection, to be launched at the ‘Caribbean POSHgirl POWER Brunch’.
My last collection however, was entitled ‘Blurred Dreams’. It was my first collection and the quote for it was “I love that blurry place between dreams and reality, it’s where the magic happens’. It was based on me realising my dreams and passions and then pursuing them. And being bold and unapologetic in my pursuit of my dreams, and creating magic for myself.