Over the last few days I’ve been reflecting on how long I’ve been following Kristin as a designer – recalling one of her early fashion shows. This cover story has been a long time coming. The day is now here and I leave the house around the 6:00AM hour. I need to make a quick stop to pick up some snacks before making the journey to the eastern side of Tortola. We are meeting Kristin at her favorite luxury beach resort, Surfsong.
Located on Beef Island just less than three minutes from the airport – the private beach front property is definitely one of the BVI’s best kept secrets. It presents such an exclusive feel as you enter the gates. Kristin holds this property dear to her having hosted the launch of her anniversary line here among a number of other promotional events over the years.
We are actually pretty lucky to be able to use the property. Surfsong is one of few resort properties that sustained minimum damage. However, they were closing that coming week to begin their hurricane renovations. One thing to note is that the beauty of this place could never be erased.
So Kristin is bright and early actually first on location along with her favorite make-up artist Akeema Crabbe. Excitement is in the ear as more friends arrive – Alton Bertie is there to capture behind the scenes along with my longtime friend, photographer and videographer Norman Allen who is doing Kristin’s cover shoot.
Everything comes together like clockwork. Of course, Kristin is wearing some select pieces from her ZION collection. The natural esthetics of Surfsong serve as a perfect backdrop to highlight the naturalistic prints. The sounds of surf and swaying palms in the background made the conversation ever so enlightening and interesting:
A: It is always unique for me to spend time here at Surfsong. I have had multiple photo shoots here that played an integral part on my brand, so of course the current collection – some seen here for the first time – had to include the Surfsong location again.
Q: It has been a ten-year journey for you. The first ever Trèfle swimsuit was birthed here. What part has it played in the collections?
A: I recall that first suit and it is imbedded in my memory. It was hard to find models, so since I was a size 4 then I designed a detailed one-piece that was dark brown and khaki in colour. I had shells in my hair and did my best to “strike a pose”. The growth and passion of my career and the company is shown over the course of 10 years via my website…and I still have that first suit!
Q: What was the OMG moment for you? Most entrepreneurs have an OMG moment in their careers. What was yours?
A: One that really set the tone and pushed me to go beyond was when I had the opportunity to do a custom swimsuit for Beyoncé. I was very short on time so I recruited my mother and cousin Beth to assist. We were in clovers (which by the way is trèfle in French) because we didn’t know how we could do it in the time we had, but we did!!! I realized if I can do that, I could do anything; since then endless possibilities opened up for me and my company that I named Trèfle – it is now a premiere celebrity swimwear brand.
Q: Who are some other cool people who have worn Trèfle?
A: Chrisette Michele was the face for my Botanical Garden collection and that was a huge deal for me. I was excited to launch my plus size swim suits and thought it would be awesome to get someone that was beautiful both on the outside and within – someone with lots of curves and a personality to match! Of course Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy, as well as most recently, we expanded and collaborated with a U.S. company, Otterbox, who now has my 2017 and 2018 collection of prints on their fashion symmetry series phone cases that are sleek and durable in design of which over 50,000 people are wearing or have worn today! I think that’s pretty exciting!
Q: What advice would you give others who want to become entrepreneurs?
A: There are five elements that I would recommend:
- You must have a plan
- Do NOT except others to do for you what you must do for yourself. Research, refine and revolutionize your passion and thoughts into your reality and everything will start falling into place.
- Have a bucket list to achieve – for me it was getting to a celebrity like Beyoncé
- Don’t be afraid to ask a question through the media, internet or phone call if you must
- Don’t be intimidated by the word “No” – in the past I allowed it to set me back, but no longer
- All is in God’s time once you put in the work!
Q: Talk a little about the original print of the suit fabrics. How did this come about?
A: Beyoncé wore the first suit I designed with a print that was “not my own” – but with some tweaking and editing and working with my friend who is an artist, I began doing my own. I wanted my friend’s design which was hand painted for me to be my first signature print and since then, I’ve made the brand more reflective of my persona through the use and combination of mood-boards, trends, colour, design and either drawn art or computer engineered prints through the team. The cell phone cases are one example. I’m happy to have spread my wings into the main label Trèfle, my kids line Trèfle284, home line Trèflehome and more.
Q: What is the connection between Clovers and Trèfle?
A: My grandmother, Ms. Anthony, began Clover’s in 1962. She sold all sorts of things from notions to fabrics to shoes to home goods. I worked there in her store when I was in high school. Between my mother and grandmother who made clothing and designed interiors, we, along with a good friend of mine tweaked Clover’s and came up with my own retail version known as Trèfle. I wanted to continue my family’s legacy in any way I can. This I think is also one of the reasons that I decided to launch a NPO called 284 Foundation. This is the charitable arm of Trèfle284 and the warm spirit of my grandmother lives on through this foundation because there was never a day that my grandmother didn’t help a child with what they needed in the BVI or abroad. I love the philanthropic energy that she brought which was so natural. I cherish those moments and am happy to carry on the legacy of my brand through her.
It seems that Trèfle will fulfill that vision and continue the work that inspired Kristin’s eye for fashion, design, and living – all that was instilled in her by her mother and grandmother. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.