It is an exciting time to be a creative. Jamaica has a rich history in craft, both culturally and economically. According to the National Craft Policy, ‘Authentic Jamaican Craft is a by-product of the rich cultural landscape of Jamaica, the legacy of the history and traditions of this Cultural Superstate’. This aspect of our history which continues to evolve through generations, as Jamaicans find new ways of using local materials to produce items like fashion accessories. Vintage Chic is Shanna Campbell’s brainchild. She has cradled and nurtured every twist on her jewellery pieces, turning a dream to its present reality. This is her story.
Shanna, the Creative
Campbell, Kingston born and raised has always been a creative individual with interests in design and creation starting from a tender age. Shanna would be found sewing garments for her dolls at age 3 and this interest took on different forms throughout the years as her eye for design became more developed and refined. She took her interest in art and design seriously and made a pivotal decision to pursue education in graphic design at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. It was there she also met her husband and business partner who has proven to be of great support on this creative and business journey.
What is Vintage Chic?
Vintage Chic is a versatile design company that creates and sells unique and eye-catching jewellery. The catalogue of Vintage Chic’s work is distinctive as Shanna creates her handmade rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings, adjustable bracelets, hair accessories, hand painted clutch purses & bags. Shanna says “we create authentic Jamaican boldness for queens who are afrocentric, eclectic & fiercely different!”
The Story of Vintage Chic
Shanna, after working for a number of years at the Things Jamaican™ store operated by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) began to have an itch for newness and growth. She had spent time around many local and gifted artisans in her job at Things Jamaican™ and so the transition was natural. She said, “After a while I needed to grow. There are things I wanted to do and try. I started out by doing unique invitations, book marks, place mats and using banana paper to get creative.”
Shanna started making her own earrings and would receive compliments on the style and uniqueness. After receiving a compliment on an earring she made for herself and having that person affirm that they would be interested in purchasing, Shanna made further steps on the journey. She knew she wanted her products to be affordable and unique and so she explored materials that would make this a sustainable venture. She added, “My options were to use something easily accessible, an everyday item, but the vision I have for it would not be what everyone else would have, and so I started with buttons.” Vintage Chic has since evolved adding a variety of products to their offerings.
JBDC for the Creative Industry
JBDC recognises that the Cultural and Creative Industries is one the vibrant pulses of the economy and has therefore implemented programmes to stimulate the industries. The JBDC is currently hosting a workshop called the “Festival of the Cloth” and its thrust is toward the development of the local textile sector, targeting local designers in the fashion and gift & craft sectors. The series features three workshops lasting three days each, exposing participants to the Nigerian method of batik and tie dyeing.
The UNESCO-sponsored project called the “Evaluation of Jamaica’s Cultural and Creative Industry through Economic Impact Studies and the National Statistics System“ is underway. This project will serve this industry by developing a comprehensive profile of the Jamaican Cultural and Creative Industries to guide cultural policy making, measure the economic contribution of the CCIs and identify recommendations and strategies for the development of key sectors.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer for JBDC, Mr. Harold Davis notes that “The CCIs have been hit the hardest by the pandemic globally. However, the JBDC has not paused its quest to develop this segment of business which forms the core of who Jamaicans are as a people. Creativity and talent are innate, and it is largely what has brought global recognition to Brand Jamaica. “
Ebbs, Flows and Pivoting
Shanna could attest to the hit the creative industry took and paused business for approximately 5 months. The pandemic provided an opportunity for her to reflect on the ‘why’ behind what she is doing and began to stir within her the ingenuity that often comes from flexing the muscle of entrepreneurship for a while. She questioned how she could serve in such a devastating time and how much support she would be able to get if she continued selling jewellery as people began to be more mindful of their spending. She was able to uncover another interest in Jamaican herbs and spices and put her design skills to good use as she designed her packaging. She has now restarted her jewellery and bags but her Jamaican herbs and spices has become a fruitful addition to her brand.
Tips for Creative Entrepreneurs
An encounter with Shanna will leave you inspired and motivated as she has learned to master the art of training her mind to think positively. This, she believes, is an incredible tool in an entrepreneur’s arsenal. Through her low during the pandemic, Shanna rode the wave and emerged with a refreshed perspective that self-motivation and inspiring oneself as an entrepreneur daily is crucial for battling the hard times. She also added for those early in the journey or considering entrepreneurship that “You have to be okay with making zero profits for a little while, but work as intensely and deliberately like you are making millions.” Additionally, Shanna emphasised the importance of customer service and being open to customer feedback. “Listen to your customers, solve their problems and do not give them any excuses to not make a purchase,” she said. Shanna has made marked improvement in her services because she has listened to her customers and become flexible to fill their needs.
Entrepreneurs are often in need of inspiration and motivation, as this road is unpredictable and hard. But, remembering your ‘why’ and pursuing your dreams with passion can take you over the kinks and bumps in the road.