“The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you” – Coco Chanel
Research for a definition of beauty revealed words such as shape, form, colour, and aesthetically pleasing on the eyes. Words that I fail to embrace as my beauty. Determined to find a meaning that is true to who I am, I stumbled upon these words that spoke to my soul. “To me, beauty is kind of like art. It evokes some type of emotional response or wonder. Beauty summons the very deepest parts of your humanity and makes you feel something.” On a quest to find and capture beauty, I catch up with two known names and faces in the Virgin Islands as beauty game-changers to share with our readers, their journey to beauty.
Small Islands Girl, International Flair
From Zion Hill to Essence with my girl, Fashion Designer Kristen Frazer of Trèfle, who celebrated her 10th year Anniversary in 2018 with the launch of her line “Zion”. Now in her 11th year, her celebrity clientele includes Beyonce, Blue Ivy and Chrisette Michele. Kristen has graced runways with her Resort Wear lines and has been featured in various magazines.
When did it all begin for you? The day when in your gut a designer was born!
Kristen: Fashion, garment construction and anything to do with my hands in creating was organic for me from the age of seven. I got my first real sewing machine and never looked back! I prefer to create my designs through garment construction! I would occasionally do a rough sketch but the main concept would always remain in my head. This is how it is done to this very day and I love it!
What internships, other training and experiences have helped mold the designer you are?
Kristen: I don’t speak about this much but my senior year at the then BVI High School in 1999, I interned at Peter Island Resort where I focused more on the culinary side of Home Economics but my motivation and inspiration for the time that I worked there was memorable- from the uniforms that I had to alter to fit me to the tropical colours, prints and overall aesthetic of Peter Island was truly amazing. That internship along with my senior internship in college in New York in 2006 for design at Carolina Herrera and Marketing at BCBG Max Azria helped me to become well-rounded in what I truly wanted to do for a career and in business. I received my Bachelor’s in Fashion Design & Marketing from the International Academy of Design & Technology, now renamed Sanford Brown in 2006.
I have quite a few pieces from various collections and they always make me feel timeless and beautiful. How do you consistently capture that and remain timeless?
Kristen: My desire to not only be a designer but to help with the inner-man of women allows me to focus on the more simple way of design through silhouettes that allow women to be expressive and feel confidently beautiful without thinking that less is more. In my case, more is enough and I’ve helped to translate that message through my designs in a special way. The brand is more than just sales. It’s really a relationship-building of client and designer and I’m happy to serve daily.
You have put the Territory on the map in the Fashion World. What shows, clients, collaborations and other opportunities help prepared you to say YES when Essence came knocking? Would you do it again?
Kristen: My consistency and will to put a brand that is just as beautiful as our territory out to the world through fashion shows all over the Caribbean, the US and celebrity endorsements like Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, Chrisette Michele and many more along with collaborations with women from all over the world have been made visible publicly over the years and people caught wind and wanted to know more. Essence is the first publication that featured Trèfle in 2009, so I’m happy to have had the opportunity to really show the brand full circle at EssenceFest this year. I would participate again and I look forward to any future opportunity or collaborative projects that will come in 2020 and beyond.
What has the participation in Essence meant for you, creatives in the territory, and the territory in general?
Kristen: I cannot begin to explain the gratitude that I felt and still feel for all the participants that helped to make my dream a reality in participating in EssenceFest and their first-ever Fashion House. It reminds me of the hard work and dedication that I’ve taken into building the brand and that the nest is truly being built on a solid foundation. Other creatives would have seen my opportunity in the BVI and around the Caribbean because the talent in the Caribbean is so strong and I’m just happy to be doing my part to contribute to showing others that you can excel while living and being from a small island. There are no limits on what you can accomplish in today’s’ society and once you set that in your mind, along with your overall plan for your life, you start the race that only you can run.
What’s on your radar? Events, collaborations, opportunity to dress a star, new products, new markets?
Kristen: I’ve been working on my activewear line called TrèfleSPORT and it has been in my business plan for over 11 years. I’m excited to begin the work on this label and look forward to showcasing the capsule collection for this label in late 2020, early 2021. My goal is to produce 2-3 collections per year through the various labels: Trèfle, Trèfle284 and TrèfleHOME. New collaborations are also underway with businesswomen internationally as I continue to encourage and be encouraged through networking and projects that are set to be released all in 2020 – 2021.
You have created a platform that grooms and builds the fashion industry locally. What do you want this industry to look like and what will it require?
Kristen: The Virgin Islands may be small but we have so much talent nesting within these islands and I am proud to see such growth across the board in the arts! Fashion has also come a long way and my aim and hope is really to continue to inspire the young people because when I was younger, I looked abroad for inspiration and opportunity because we didn’t have much of a fashion presence, so I decided to be the change I wanted to see and I’m doing just that through platforms like my mentorship program and also my NPO called 284Foundation.
‘Whispers of Summer’ coming when? Spring 2020 trends and must-haves!
Kristen: My new capsule collection is called Whispers of Summer and is set to release in the latter part of December going into January 2020! I’m really excited about this collection because my print came from a European designer that hand-painted the print for me! I’m happy to have collaborated with her and I look forward to sharing her talents with the BVI once the collection is revealed! 2020 Trends are all about hand details, embroideries, and mixing textures and prints while reinventing classic items like the white shirt and putting your personal twist on how you style it! I’m happy to be working with embroidery for this collection as well and it has been many months in the making of concept to reality. So 2020, here we come!
Locally you can purchase Trèfle at the flagship store Clovers, Road Town, at Taino at CBR Tortola Pier Park and Copper Island Gift Shop or www.Trèfledesigns.com
Next, I had the opportunity to have a chat with Makeup Artist Akeema Crabbe. Known for her signature look and flawless brows, I was eager to sit in her chair. We talked beauty, fashion, praise and her journey From East End to NY Fashion Week. Akeema is the makeup artist for Trèfle and was the makeup artist for Summer Sizzle. Her clientele includes local beauty queens, various models and known personalities in the VI.
Why makeup artist? What was the inspiration for joining this growing field?
Akeema: I have always been a ‘creative’. When I was in primary school, my mom taught typing at Sunflower Program, which was a Government after school program back then. I attended that after school program and did Printing with Mr. Hodge. And that’s how it got started for me. My mom never wore makeup so I wasn’t exposed to it growing up, but when I went to college, that’s when my interest sparked. As I matured my interest grew and learning color theory and blending from painting made it easy.
Who was your first, as we say, “guinea pig”?
Akeema: My very first guinea pig, now that I can remember, was my cousin Tresha Lettsome who is now a Model in the US.
Was there any formal training our or things just came naturally?
Akeema: Initially, I was as self-taught, but in 2015, I got my certification with Gwennis Mosbey Makeup Academy and who made this so possible was the late Bridget Jones of Florencia Cosmetics.
Why did you decide to expand your brand beyond makeup to being a Fashion Stylist?
Akeema: As I mature into womanhood, I became a lover of fashion. I love all things FAB! And strangely, the more I come into myself, the more I realize how gifted I am in the area of Style and Beauty. And how it got started was Gabrielle Denae (International Gospel Recording Artist) needed a makeup artist and stylist, and God put me in the position to be hired by her. We have worked together for almost three years now. She trusts my gifting so that allows me to be very creative while maintaining modesty.
What’s your thought process when dressing a client?
Akeema: I am not just another fashion stylist but I specialize in modest fashion. This means everything is covered. No boobs, no butt, and no belly button is showing. When dressing a client, my thought process is, “How can I make the client very fashionable and modest at the same time.” It takes a great deal of creativity.
Has it been difficulty with you being able to come up with looks with the somewhat limited resources in the Territory?
Akeema: Coming with looks has been challenging at times especially during those time when I have my heart set on a particular look but at the same time lack of resources has definitely channelled my creative, so successfully styling a client has always worked out in my favor in the end thus far.
Praise and Make-up. Where did that come from? What inspired this ministry?
Akeema: Level Up Faith and Beauty was birthed one morning during my morning devotion. And I felt like that morning God was telling me I needed to level up and be the woman that He called me to be. So He (God) downloaded the idea and that’s how it happened. So Level Up Faith and Beauty is a lifestyle brand that focuses on faith, fashion, confidence, beauty, and style. The aim is to empower women on a holistic level, encouraging them and equipping them with the tools needed to Level Up to their optimal selves: that woman God called them to be in totality.
Makeup is more acceptable in today’s society but knowing our VI history, do you think the ancestors of yesterday would embrace the concepts of Praise and Make-up?
Akeema: I know when I was growing makeup was a NO-NO in the church, so the concept probably would not have been accepted but I’m glad today that we are encouraged to be our best selves even if that means wearing a little makeup here or there.
Where do you want this ministry to go?
Akeema: I really would love for Level Faith and Beauty to be recognized all over the Caribbean and become an event that you don’t want to miss.
So many have entrusted their look of sometimes their most important day. how do you handle the pressure? How do you deal or respond to someone not happy with their look? Actually, has this ever happened?
Akeema: I must say I have learned how to work under pressure. And this mostly happens if I’m working with a client who is not sure what they want or come with unrealistic expectations. But what I have truly learned over the years is that your clients must be a right match for you. My signature style when it comes to makeup is timeless beauty and I’m known for that. Very soft, natural-looking makeup with a pop here or there. If you want the extravagant stuff, then I’m not the right. And it’s not that I can’t do it. Extravagant is just not my style.
What persons/situations place you in position for NYC Fashion Week 2014?
Akeema: I must say being the Beauty Coordinator for Summer Sizzle BVI and Terry Donavon founder of Summer Sizzled BVI opened the door to that opportunity.
What designers did you work with?
Akeema: The designer I worked with the Cesar Galindo.
Being an island girl, how do you think you were received by the models, designers and your peers?
Akeema: Well, as you know, NY is filled with people from all over the Caribbean so I blended in quite fine. There was also another MUA from Cayman, so I was not alone.
What needs to be in place to ensure more creatives from the Territory receive opportunities as such?
Akeema: I would say just put yourself out there, Be true to your craft and you will eventually shine through and be recognized for your gifts. BVI is also now more globally so the sky is the limit.
What’s next? Whose faces would you love as future canvas?
Akeema: To be honest I don’t have any specific person right now but I am grateful for whatever woman of influence God allows to sit in my chair.
Spring 2020 Trends. What’s in your make-up case?
Akeema: I would say definitely glow skin and a red lip which is my fav.
Contact Akeema Crabbe at www.akayc.com
As a skinny, dark chocolate girl, I used fashion to escape my fears and insecurities of not being pretty enough. It was my opportunity to play dress up and feel beautiful. My grandmother, Constancia Rhymer was my first inspiration to beauty. Her granddaughters ravished over her costume jewelry collection and debated who would get it when she died. The kaleidoscope of colors included necklaces, earrings, bangles, and brooches. We stole every opportunity. We each took time playing dress-up with her fashionable collection. Mammie was not afraid of color. I would sit and watch her dress, with eyes only for her, as she would lift her beast and sit them into a firm, point sponge cup. She would then strap on her long line bra. This holder of her twin pillars lifted her boobs and cinched her waistline. Her body was transformed as if it was a mannequin. A wooden wardrobe with a full mirror on the inside of the door was her journey to beauty. A single key kept her arrangement of garments, designed and sewn with her own hands, her shoes and many curly wigs neatly stored. Stacked ceiling high on top of the wardrobe was an arrangement of hat boxes that stored her crowned possessions. Head-turning, kissable ruby red lipstick was her favorite color of choice. It matched perfectly with her glistering charcoal-colored skin. Visions of her appear before me. She was flawless. She was beauty with grace and style! She took me on a journey of self-awareness and self-love where I discovered I am BeYond BeauTi. Come along for the ride!
To be featured, contact BeYond BeauTi at firstname.lastname@example.org