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OECS Facilitates Formation of National Fashion Associations

A selection of fashion designers from the sub-region have received assistance from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to better develop and establish national associations within their respective territories.

As a means of stimulating the growth and development of the fashion and design sector in the region, the OECS Competitive Business Unit (CBU) through its Creative Industries Sector Programme, has helped to facilitate the formation of National Fashion Associations in the Commonwealth of Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Associations aim to become viable entities operating in the fashion industry’s regional and global marketplace. 

After months of various interventions by the CBU to support groupings of designers in these two OECS Member States, along with the support of local partners including the Intellectual Property Offices; Invest SVG; and the Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA), national associations have now been established in each of these Member States — with the recent registration in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the election of an executive body in the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Following the registration of the Fashion Association of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (FASVG), the newly elected president, Peta Odini Sutherland, noted: “The idea of a Fashion Association was something which grew we started seeing the various opportunities available that could become more accessible via the creation of an association.”

She further emphasised that: “Funding agencies and other partners were more prepared to deal with a grouping than with individuals and have shifted their resources to supporting cluster type projects.  An association therefore was the obvious next step that we would have to take in order to make the industry in St. Vincent more viable.” 

Sutherland and her colleagues envision that the Association will serve as a means to bring the collective talent and skills of local designers together to solve the myriad of issues and challenges which impact the industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the rest of the OECS. They.

“Many of our designers are self-taught, one-man/one-woman entities that I strongly believe, with the right access to resources, could develop into amazing brands to drive the industry forward,” Peta asserted. 

The FASVG President affirmed her belief in collaboration and in building stronger partnerships, stating:

“It is my hope for the association to become a facilitator, through the development of stronger partnerships with agencies such as Invest SVG, the OECS CBU, Caribbean Export and others to provide well curated training and developmental programmes and projects which would ultimately help us build strong sustainable brands able to compete in the international marketplace.” 

The full executive of the FASVG is as follows: Peta Odini Sutherland – President, Rhondel Dickson -Vice President, Christal Oliver – Treasurer, Kimya Glasgow – Secretary, Rachel Bailey – Director, Kimon Baptiste – Director, Ikesha Delpeche, – Director, Shari Ollivierre – Director.

Similarly, a grouping of designers in the Commonwealth of Dominica have been working on the process towards the formation of a national association there, with the support of the CBU and other stakeholders. As a step towards the registration of the grouping into a legal entity, the group held its elections of officers recently, with designer, Deborah Mikkie Graham of Bellanoir Fashions emerging as the first-ever president. 

The full executive reads: Deborah Mikkie Graham – President, Vanessa Winston – Vice President, Avena Prince – Secretary, Vilma Samuel – Treasurer, Melinda Seraphine – Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, Ruth Augustine – Public Relations Officer, and Nominated members: Reena Polydore, Sonia Akpa and Alisha Florent. 

The newly elected president of the Dominica Fashion and Design Association (DOFA), Deborah Mikkie Graham stated:

“…there are significant numbers of persons who are interested in pursuing careers in the industry and are hesitant to do so due to severe limitations. We needed a body to advocate on behalf of designers and the industry in general.

“We are extremely thankful to the OECS CBU for taking on the effort to help us form an association over the past two years, and are thankful also for the many opportunities they have created for local and regional designers thus far.  It was however critical to establish an organisation dedicated to supporting the work of fashion and design in Dominica.”

Like her counterpart in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Graham is hopeful that her association will continue to work with other stakeholders to improve on the situation of the industry in the Commonwealth of Dominica and to assist the association and its membership to develop brands to compete internationally. 

She too is hoping that, “through skills training and education, interested designers and other professionals within the industry will be exposed to new areas of competencies and skills to allow for a larger number of persons to embark on career paths in the fashion industry.”

The CBU plans to work with Business Support Organisations (BSOs) in both islands to assist the two associations with the creation of strategic plans and to begin focusing on areas of collaboration that would help enhance the competitiveness of the fashion industry in these two Member States, while it pursues work on building other national associations in the remaining Member States in the coming months.

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