Trendy Treats — designing ethical and ethnic fashions for a material world

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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STEPHANIE McLean is charting new waters with the launch of her designer platform Trendy Treats.

The 29-year-old has created an e-commerce platform that converges global designers into a common
space, ultimately allowing individuals to purchase fashionable clothing and cosmetic items from around the world. After successfully honing her skill as a fashion designer, McLean has partnered with a team of 30 international designers, including Jamaican-born designer Ayanna Dixon.

"I travelled a lot growing up, and women were always asking where I got my clothing, so I thought it would be good if I could create a platform," McLean told the Jamaica Observer in explaining how she started her business.

"I wanted women to be able to shop and experience without having to get on a plane for hard-to-find items from around the world. So it's kind of like a shopping trip around the world without the expensive airfare and the jet lag," she added.

But getting the concept off the ground was never an easy task.

Having completed a law degree programme at the University of Arizona in the USA, McLean stated that she came under much pressure to pursue her career as a lawyer. But she opted otherwise.

"I've always had this idea of working for myself, so initially many persons questioned why I was not working at a law firm or a big development company," she told the Business Observer. "But I had a vision which I didn't share with anyone at the time and I went and worked in a retail store on Fifth Avenue, New York, because I wanted to understand how to manage a clothing store."

In starting out, she completed a graduate programme at the School of Architecture at Columbia University in New York City where she learned the fundamentals of designing. From there she started pooling her team of designers during trips across the world.

"I've travelled to over five continents, and during my travels to Africa and Israel I found some really cool designers. The others I came across through research and in building my brand internationally," she said. After two years of research, McLean managed to launch Trendy Treats last November.

Her own 'Mogul in the Making'

Currently, the young entrepreneur produces her very own clothing line dubbed 'Mogul in the Making', which is carried by local boutiques including Collectibles, Base Kingston and New Eagle. She is now looking to expand her clothing line into New York over the next six months.

"Mogul in the Making is designed by me ,and the cool thing is that you don't just get them in the usual small, medium and large, but made to your measurements," she stated.

Since launching Trendy Treats, McLean stated that she has tapped into the Ethical Fashion Movement, and is targeting high-fashion customers and individuals who are also keen on the elements used to produce their clothing. The strategy has helped her to counter competition like the Chinese who offer low-priced clothing.

"There is this movement now where people are trying to encourage designers to produce in ways that are better for the people making the clothes and better for the environment," she stated.

"I was able to come to Jamaica and even though the production cost is higher than in China, it offered me is a good option for small-scale manufacturing instead of China who does mass production. My customers are willing to pay for higher quality, environmentally friendly clothing although it is at a higher cost," McLean added.

The young entrepreneur prices her designer wear between US$17 and US$1200. So far, she has garnered traffic of up to 1500 site visitors per day, with customers mainly from the US, seeking African and Asian wear.

McLean operates her company from home and employs one assistant and freelances her manufacturing work to local manufacturers. Additionally, McLean plans on employing two individuals to manage her clothing line when launched in New York.

   

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