MerchCarnival – an online marketplace for all things Caribbean
Beginning the entrepreneurial journey can be one of the most frightening, yet fulfilling things that an individual can take on. Going ‘all in’ on your talents, your ideas, and your drive can be very daunting. Ashleé Douglas, owner of MerchCarnival, happened upon her entrepreneurial journey by chance. Ashleé was born and raised in St. Croix, USVI. Having familial roots in Trinidad and Dominica, her Caribbean culture played an integral role in her childhood. As she went off to Philadelphia for undergrad, culture shock greatly affected her and for the first year of school she was gravely homesick. The silver lining that came out of this adjustment period was that her love for her home and appreciation of Caribbean culture grew, and thus MerchCarnival was born.
Founded in 2014, MerchCarnival is ‘bringing the bacchanal to you’. From the signature Island Gyal shirt to country-specific apparel such as the Taste of the VI tee to carnival centric wear like the Wuk Up snapback, each product represents Caribbean lifestyle.
MerchCarnival is primarily an apparel and accessories brand, but Ashleé sees it becoming even more that. She is a supporter of the #shopsmall and #shoplocal concepts that are gaining popularity in the U.S and believes it is now the time to support fellow designers and brands in the Caribbean or of Caribbean heritage. This past year, MerchCarnival transitioned to becoming an online-curated marketplace of Caribbean-made and Caribbean-inspired products. Through her travels and meet ups with Caribbean makers, Ashleé has begun sourcing products that represent the Caribbean lifestyle. She has featured brands such as Le Gendre and Passport Caribbean Clothing Co. Her ultimate goal is to open a brick-and-mortar shop that features Caribbean brands, and aids designers in reaching a U.S. audience.
In the past two years, Ashleé has grown her e-commerce site, as well as her vendor schedule. During the summer months, MerchCarnival hits the road to present at various Caribbean festivals and carnivals in the U.S. This experience has further ignited her excitement about being an entrepreneur. She enjoys meeting with customers and admirers of the brand face-to-face. In December, she hosts an annual pop up shop in St. Croix, where she features several local brands during the holiday season in December.
She’s been able to host this event for the past three years, and hopes to continue for years to come.
Coming up this spring and summer, Ashleé is excited to add more brands to the marketplace, expand the MerchCarnival product line, and host more pop up events. It’s a very exciting year for the company and goes to show you never know where your passions may take you.