Keliah Taffe - making her name in designing

January 29, 2016
Contributed Keliah Taffe
Contributed One of Keliah's designs

Though she has had no formal training as a designer, Keliah Taffe has certainly made a name for herself. Having walked away as the winner of THE WEEKEND STAR Fashion Designer Competition in 2015, Taffe said the journey has been rough but rewarding.

"I began sewing from a very young age. My Mom, Arlene Clarke, was a dressmaker so that's where I really got my inspiration from. I started making clothes for my dolls, so from that age I knew that I always wanted to venture into this field," said the 26-year-old.

It was not as easy as it seemed. For one, Taffe's mother was not always supportive of her following in her footsteps.

"My mother wanted me to go to college, get my degree and become a lawyer, but sewing was always in my blood, I couldn't help it, I had to follow my dreams."

Taffe and her mother have since formed their own company - JO-KEL Apparel.

"We started this company in 2015 and it has been going well. JO-KEL is conservative, more on the corporate side. I also have my own company, a subsidiary of JO-KEL Apparel, titled Ragz & Rebelz. This is less conservative, much more free-spirited," she told THE WEEKEND STAR , adding that though she is now reaping the success of hard work, it has come at a price.

"I was at UWI, pursuing a bachelor's degree in history, and I dropped out because I wanted to focus on fashion designing. I also got a job at a company that supplied uniforms to corporate company, and they told me that I didnt fit in. I was a little devastated, but that pushed me to work harder and do more."

For Taffe, wining THE WEEKEND STAR competition cemented her place as a force to be reckoned with.

"It felt good. I felt validated. Since wining THE WEEKEND STAR competition, I have gotten new orders from clients. My business is growing so much, I even got a wedding order. Right now, I would love the opportunity to dress artistes such as Denyque, Ishawna and comedienne Belle Blair.

"I think they would add so much to the brand because of their charisma and personalities. In five years, I just want to see my brand getting bigger and better. I'm hoping to enter the Caribbean Fashion Week this year with my own designs, we'll see what happens. For now, I'm just putting my all in my work," she said.

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