The creative force behind the Feelo’je brand is very clear about what she wants to create – a sense of uniqueness. Her background is steeped in fashion: her mother and aunt were professional models; her uncle a designer and makeup artist and her grandmother a seamstress.
Her swimwear designs have taken top honours in pageants around the Caribbean and have graced runways in numerous fashion shows, most recently her fashion line’s eponymous “Feelo’je Ferocious” in July 2012.
From her admiration of Caribbean designers to her love of wrestling, Janay Reymond shares her story thus far.
How did you get into fashion?
My grandmother had one of the first clothing stores on the island, which was destroyed by hurricane in 1995. I grew up in her store, so I’ve always been around clothing and design.
What was your very first design?
The first thing I ever designed was an outfit for my cat. That cat eventually ran away. The first thing I made for myself was a jeans skirt for my clothing and textile class in high school. My paternal grandmother taught me how to crochet and different types of fabric designs. Some of them I don’t remember now.
What is the essence of Feelo’je?
I wanted to create something that reflected my style, which is a bit eccentric. I use a lot of prints, I use a lot of ‘out there’ colours. It could be the simplest outfit, but I always think that the prints and the colours make the difference.
…most of my designs are CUSTOM PIECES, so if you buy a swimsuit from me you’ll be the ONLY ONE with it.
What is the Feelo’je brand?
We have a design company as well as a modelling company. We also do consultancy for pageant contestants.
What inspires your designs?
It depends on my mood, it depends on the year. My mind is like a playground and I design based on how I feel. I used to watch a lot of Animal Planet, so I ended up using a lot of animal prints. This year has been about using a ton of bright colours.
I’m an emotional designer. I do things because I want to, not because they are in style at that particular moment.
Are there any other designers that you admire?
I admire Caribbean designers. Roger Garry and Kaisha Peters. Kaisha is my mentor. I love how she takes old-fashioned styles and make them into something young and fresh. She has a vast knowledge of the industry and has helped me a lot to figure out what to do.
Roger Garry has been in the business for over 20 years. He actually came for my show this year and I got the chance to pick his brain and he helped me in so many ways. Things I would have never thought about, he helped me with.
Many designers might use famous names like D’ior, for example, as their inspiration, but it takes a lot to come from the Caribbean and be known for fashion. I think Roger’s designs are amazing but, being from Guyana, he’s probably not as well-known as he should be.
Many of your designs are one-piece swimsuits. Why?
Technically, they’re not one-pieces, they’re monokinis. There’s not much you can do with a two-piece swimsuit. I’ve done a few but I find them to be very boring.
What do you do when you’re not designing?
I love wrestling. I can’t wait for next week; they’re having the 1000th episode of (Monday Night) Raw and a lot of the older stars will be on it. Bret Hart, The Undertaker and The Rock will be there.
Where can people get your designs?
From Facebook, mainly. Most people have my phone number, this is Anguilla after all. I’m currently working on mass production to be in stores but, at this present moment, most of my designs are custom pieces, so if you buy a swimsuit from me you’ll be the only one with it.
Women don’t want to be out and see someone else with the same dress on. Maybe in a larger country, but not in a small community where everyone goes to the same places.
What’s next for Feelo’Je?
Mass production, then my own store. I have contacts in Antigua that handle production because quality is important.
My immediate goal is Caribbean fashion week next year, then eventually fashion week in Miami or New York.