American-born Jenelle Alexia Thompson, whose parents are Jamaican, is hoping to stitch her legacy into the dancehall fashion arena.
The 27-year-old, self-taught designer holds a degree in business from the University of Phoenix. She, however, decided to chase her childhood dreams and own her business. She is owner of the Pennsylvania-based A'Legends clothing line.
“I have a passion for unique clothing. As a designer, I create fashionable and trendy outfits that people can feel good and look good in. What makes my outfits unique is that it empowers the client as he/she wears it. People keep asking me, where have I learnt fashion designing and how many outfits I sew for a day? But, I keep telling them I am not a seamstress; I design. So my designs are sent out to the manufacturers to sew and I collect the finished product,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
“Nobody has ever sat with me and take me through any form of steps in designing. So just as how one may get the gift of writing, I could justly say, I, Jenelle, was born with the talent to be a fashion designer,” she said.
Her very first piece of saleable item was a T-shirt bought by deejay/producer Delly Ranx in September 2018. Since then, more than a dozen Jamaican entertainers have been on her client list. They include Macka Diamond, Vershon, Xyclone, and Ding Dong of Ravers Clavers dancing group.
“It's just like one entertainer seeing my outfits at some parties and shows over here in the US and wanting to try on my stuff,” she said.
In addition to T-shirts and outfits, A'Legends designs include underpants, socks, jackets, and unisex watches. Her prices range between US$30 to US$150.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has not negatively affected her as she has been using the lockdown to “brainstorm” new and innovative ways to keep her business on top of the game through social media platforms.
Thompson, who visits Jamaica at least once a year, has not travelled since the pandemic. She, however, made frequent visits to Passa Passa in Kingston.
“I just love these events because it give patrons the opportunity to showcase their talents and Jamaica has so much of that in her pack,” she said..
She is hoping to tap into the African market as well as spreading her wings into other US states.
As for Jamaica, she is hoping to open a boutique couture in the trendy New Kingston area for the new year.
She had words of advice for aspiring fashion designers.
“Don't ever be afraid of competition. It can build you to be your best, and don't expect your friends to help you,” she said.
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