Energetic, funky, easy-going, comfortable with one's own self and appearance and with at least two cultural bones in their body is how MamaYashi describes her ideal customer. A look at MamaYashi tells you why! This young woman oozes culture and a rich Jamaican culture at that.
The slim-built Rastafarian is slowly changing the way that we look at cultural fashion. Not one to conform to the traditional rasta belts and ill-shaped leather slippers, her dresses pack a clever play on stitching, ruching and patches, creating feminine and modern silhouettes for all body types. As a result of her one-of-a-kind design policy, her customers tend to be repeat buyers as they fall in love with the exclusivity of owning the only piece each time they make a purchase.
Inspired by shapes (for this season it's the triangle), colours, layers, her customers, and her son, MamaYashi says her line is "always in motion," because she can draw on so many things to influence her work and she is allowed the flexibility as a result of not being restricted by producing a predetermined quantity of any one style. When speaking of her son Alijah and the inspiration he affords her and having to keep up with him, while home-schooling him, she shrugs her shoulders and simply states, "if it weren't for him, I'd just be Yashi."
MamaYashi has quite the portfolio, boasting the patronage of entertainers, designing for Magnum Kings and Queens for the past three years (she even designed the robes that the King and the Queen wear once they have been crowned), and selling exclusively through Stanley and Empress Boutique on Hope Road and at Strawberry Hill Hotel. Her line is affordable with accessories ranging from $1500-$2500, and clothing from $2500-$5000. While speaking of her clientele, she says that Jamaica is by far the place in which she has experienced the most success in terms of reception and client base. However in terms of revenue, France keeps her in business by allowing her to generate half her profit each year. A lesson perhaps to the many local designers -- start here but go get the world in between!
-- Gianna Fakhourie