How it all began...
The love of natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, and hemp and the love of batik and tie-dye led me to develop a clothing line called Natural Feelings while living in Ghana, West Africa. My passion for painting led me to created a line of African inspired home décor and a line of jewelry with beads collected from all over the world. As a multi-talented artist, painting, batiks, jewelry and home décor, influence each other.
As a young girl grown up in Washington DC, Saturdays were spent with my mother and sister in fabric stores admiring the colors, textures and designs printed on fabric. I was unaware of the vocation as a textile designer until I met Lois Maylou Jones a textile designer herself who was my first design teacher at Howard University. Many years later while living in Ghana, I decided to design a clothing line using colorful, multi patterned batik fabrics to create fun, fabulous fashion for the plus size woman. Clothes for any occasion, easy to dress up or down, made with 100% natural fabric, which are easy to wear and care for. African women have always dressed appropriately for their size with class and style. However, many of the traditional styles are passé which inspired me to blend the fashion traditions from Africa, Europe, American and Asia using hand dyed batiks from Ghana, a perfect place for this venture since the Ghanaians are very accomplished batik artists and tailors.
Our fashion designs are quite unique because we batiks our fabric by stamping or painting the wax onto fabric which is then dyed, it takes lots of skill and is very labor intensive. We can produce about 36 yards of fabric per day. The finished batik fabric is made into garments, which are designed to fit a wide range of sizes and shapes. The layering technique gives our prints a very interesting three-dimensional quality and we incorporate symbols from around the globe, which are sophisticated ethnic fashions, which has great universal appeal.
From these early beginnings, my journeys have taken me throughout the world. We were caught in a coup in Uganda, witnessed Mobutu’s dictatorship in Zaire, participated in a bridal festival in Morocco, climbed Mount Sinai in Egypt, and stood on the Gulf of Guinea banks to witness the re-interment of African slaves from America and the Caribbean. While living in Morocco we drove through Europe to the Normandy to pay respect to World War II Veteran. Drove through the Rift valley in Kenya to Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, view the Serengeti by airplane and hiked in Rwanda to visit the gorillas while living in Uganda.
Many of my fondest memories are of Sunday evenings spent with good friends and jazz on a felucca in the Nile River in Cairo Egypt. Coming across a band of Pygmies near the Mountain of the Moon in Uganda and Sunday afternoon brunches in an old Plantation House in Georgetown Guyana with friends.
Our move to Africa was welcomed and started me on a path that would take my art to a new dimension. Nature has always been my source of inspiration. The changing colors of drying leaves and flowers as they fall, seeds and pods in all varieties of brown, pink and coral seashell on beige and yellow ocher sand, blue black skin and navy blue lips, swaying floral prints and shades of black brown people and pink people.
Since then, I have lived in Northern, Central, and West Africa over a period 26 years. Living in Morocco my whole color and design sense changed. The soft amber tones of the desert, terracotta, white washed, golden Moroccan cities with occasional geometric tile formations of vivid yellow, turquoise, orange, and green tiles on Mosque spiraling up to the heavens is what impacts my color sense. I had never seen color used in that way. Berber jewelry worn by women of the Atlas Mountains so inspired me that I did intensive study of Berber symbols and Islamic patterns for a t-shirt collection.