Growing up in the sovereign country of St. Lucia, I often encountered several obstacles in trying to realize my full potential. Living on a small island of 238.23 square miles with a population of 182,790, I found that resources and opportunities were limited and not always readily available. However this did not immobilize me from being the highly motivated and dedicated individual that I was and still is today.
From the tender age of five, I have been heavily involved in shows including cultural events, fashion shows and pageantry. Additionally, worked behind the scenes serving as Creative Director specifically designing garments and costumes, executing various looks and also chaperoned several other less experienced and motivated young ladies. I also worked with a small yet successful modeling institution called the Imani Modeling agency. We showcased our talents and creativity throughout the island by means of fashion shows. For photo-shoots and showcasings, we were tasked with creating outfits by substituting fabric and using only natural or manmade materials such as newspapers, trash bags, bottle caps, hair extensions and leaves, just to name a few.
It was often challenging to find off the rack pieces to my satisfaction. There was either too much or too little detail, therefore, I used my imagination to extract one detail from at least two or three different pieces, then combined them to create what I truly desired. The one obstacle that I faced in designing the outfits I created was my inability to sew at the time. However, this did not impede me from executing the numerous visions and designs, which were fervent in my mind. These amazing experiences allowed for my resourcefulness to shine through and ignited the first spark in realizing my utmost dream and passion for fashion, design and creative thinking.
I decided to join this fascinating industry as a means of using my talents and passion to make a difference in the fashion world. I took a leap of faith and moved to the Fashion Capital of New York City to attend the number one fashion school in the world, the Fashion Institute of Technology, to pursue my dream. My time spent at the institution was one of the toughest yet most rewarding experiences I have undergone thus far. It made me appreciate fashion and fell deeper in love with every aspect of this business. It was indeed thoroughly awe-inspiring and rewarding and thus allowed me to utilize what I learnt to improve my skills and abilities. I quickly mastered the basic skills of sewing and learned to love it. Additionally, successfully grasped the major aspects of the design process including patternmaking, draping, sketching and the various computerized design applications. I also had the privilege of having my work showcased at various design exhibitions and walked the runway of major fashion shows. After four years of dedication, determination and hard work, I successfully graduated with honors, earning my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design and a minor in Psychology. I was also honored to make the Dean’s list each consecutive year.
I began designing and creating custom made pieces for close friends and family whilst attending college. My clientele grew gradually as time progressed. I launched my first fashion house “Shontell”, along with my website and social media platforms in the summer of 2017 with my first line being a swimwear collection. My specialty ranges from swimwear to evening gowns, sportswear, casual apparel, and caters to men, women and kids. I also produce accessories including custom bags and hats. I am also personally fond of the means of sustainable fashion, namely recycling. I choose to design in ways where by, using measures to help save planet earth and making it a better and safer place for us all to live in. Throughout the years, I have designed various collections, partaken in fashions shows, fund raising activities, talk show appearances and pop-up events; promoting and creating exposure for Shontell.
Being free-spirited allows me to be individualized and bold with my glamorous yet retro-chic sense of style. I love being different and choose to stand out whereby aim at achieving uniqueness and out-of-the-norm design aesthetics. I enjoy working with color and combining different palettes. Mixed prints, bold patterns and rare fabrications give me a sense of fulfillment, endless motivation and a drive to excel beyond my comfort zone. My design inspirations and aesthetics are mainly derived from my Tropical Island, Caribbean roots and the natural beauty around me. My silhouettes most often represent the natural attractions of the island including the mountainous shapes, flow of the rivers and waterfalls, shape of beautiful floral leaves, trees and wings of a bird. My color palettes are mostly a combination of rich, vibrant colors abstracted from the sea, skies, fruits, flowers and even the beautiful array of colors portrayed on a Saturday morning at our local market place as vendors come together to sell their garden fresh fruits and vegetables.
My expectations in life are to rise up and beat the odds, to demonstrate resiliency and represent success. To go beyond what I know I am capable of achieving and anything I set out to do because of my industriousness and work ethic. I aim to set apart from other designers and establish my own style that will undoubtedly be acclaimed as distinct in the fashion world. When designing, I escape mentally into a whole new world. It is my happy place, my serenity, my Zen, my place of solace, my joy. It makes me who I am, a better individual and try my best to be an inspiration to others. I consider myself to be an innovator, pioneer, role model, and leader and will one day be a successful entrepreneur.