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Made in Jamaica: The KehsKenitra Effect

Jamaica Gleaner /  

Have you ever tried to find that perfect bag to match your outfit, but fall short of the mark? Well, fret not, KehsKenitra has a wide variety of trendy bags designed to accentuate your style for just about every occasion.

We caught up with designer Khess Anderson, who shared her unique fashion story of her bags made in Jamaica.

Anderson explained to Outlook that she was always interested in creating new and exciting things. “I used to get actively engaged in little DIY (do it yourself) projects around the house. Then I stumbled upon a DIY garment video on YouTube, and from there, I was an avid YouTube student. Once I learnt the basic techniques, I could add my own personality to it. I tried more challenging projects as I went on and the rest is history.”

In 2013, Anderson started a swim line called ‘Vintage Play House’which she said was nothing more than a hobby – just an idea she wanted to execute. Turning it into a business was the furthest thing from her mind, until she did a photo shoot and posted them online. The comments she received encouraged her to progress from extra curricular to possible couture career.

 

OUT-OF-THE-BLUE IDEA  

The 22-year-old designer confessed however, that despite her talents, she was neither a fan of making swimsuits nor was she able to mass produce them. For a while, she thought about what else she could design. Then, out of the blue, the idea of making bags just came to her. “It happened in April of this year. I did a little research, got super interested in it and I ran with it. I made two little bags for myself to test the waters, did a lot of trials and errors until I came up with a few pieces. Had someone asked me earlier this year if I would be designing bags, I would have told them no,” she said with a laugh. Today, she currently designs just about everything from totes and clutches to crossbodies, backpacks, and wristlets.

For every success story, there are a few obstacles along the way. Because Anderson was self-taught, one of her biggest challenges came in finding the right tools and gadgets she needed to produce high quality bags. “I put technology to good use. I was on Google every day, on YouTube seeing other companies who make handbags, just hunting down as much information as I possibly could.”

From an entrepreneurial standpoint, she confessed that managing a business is no joke. She noted that there are many small details that might not seem complex, but as a whole, can really be tiresome. But she remains optimistic, basking in the positive reactions from customers. “This has got to be the best design decision I’ve made thus far. I truly am grateful for everyone who has appreciated my work and given me encouraging feedback.”

So, why the name KehsKenitra? She said it is actually her name with a slight spelling adjustment, and she continues to remain true to herself, designing bags that reflect her personal style vintage ’70s, ’80s and ’90s with a fusion of modern trends.

Since April, she has participated in several expos, such as Market on the Lawn, Moda Market and Christmas at the Village, just to name a few. And KehsKenitra has even rocked the runway at Collection MoDA alongside designer DTS by Daniela Stone.

With plans to launch her website early in the new year, Anderson’s advice to anyone wanting to get into the fashion industry is to just do it. “If you have an idea or a thought, just go for it! Read books, articles, watch YouTube videos, surround yourself with anything related to what you’re trying to get into. There is so much information out in the world, it’s just for us to use it.”

So, for all handcrafted, fine as wine quality bags for any modern-day woman, make a statement with and indulge in the KehsKenitra effect. For more information, you can find her on Instagram: @kehskenitra.

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