The old adage says: “Curiosity killed the cat”, but for Mikyle Gibbons curiosity led him to his greatest passion and to a fulfilling career.
The 22-year-old fashion designer said he was in 6th form at The Lodge School when a friend invited him to take part in a model search. To promote the final show, he had to go through weekly challenges in creating. For his final pieces, he used fabric glue, hand sewing needles, and thread. It was around that time that his sister bought him a sewing machine.
“My sister bought me a sewing machine to use for the show, but I had no knowledge as to how to use it. But curiosity kicked in soon after and I messed with it a bit. Slowly, I got the gist of how to use [it] and I began altering anything I could get my hands on. Whether it be school pants or shirts, all were altered.
“My curiosity crept further, and I ended up sewing my first jacket by using my old jacket as a stencil. Eventually, the word caught on that I can alter and create garments and the ball kept rolling from there.”
Mikyle who said he wanted to be an inventor, someone who creates things or even an architect when he was much younger, went on to place third in the Model Search.
The owner of MAK GIOUS said while growing up he always admired his peers wearing the newest trends and he wanted in. It was when he picked up sewing that he decided to dive right into it, creating his own trend.
“Since venturing into fashion, my life took an unexpected turn into connecting with amazing people and experiencing things I never thought of. When I first started, my biggest challenge was patience and knowledge in the trade.
“Understanding the sewing machine settings, buying the wrong material for my projects and stuff simply not coming out right were but a few of the challenges I faced. I messed up hundreds of times and got angry so I would leave everything at the machine just to take a break or simply sleep. But the ‘what if I actually can see the outcome of it’, kept calling me back to the machine.”
The name of the brand MAK GIOUS is derived from his middle name and last name, Makerry, and Gibbons, which led to MAK G. But he wanted something more unique so he came up with GIOUS: Greatness In Our Unique Souls.
The former student of the Barbados Community College who graduated with an Associate Degree in Fashion Designing said recently there has been a pull towards formal wear and he likes where that’s going.
“I do designs for both males and females. Though I enjoy doing both, my preference would be for women’s wear as I’d be making gowns for them. My reason for this would be the emotional fulfillment I receive whenever I complete a gown to one’s expectations and it gladdens my client to the point of tears. To me, there isn’t anything better than that.”
Citing a school pageant in which he was involved, Mikyle said one of his greatest satisfaction comes from designing a gown for competition and then the client wins.
“I had a few clients who placed first in their pageants and won every segment I designed for them. I remember one in particular, at the Ellerslie Secondary School Pageant. I stood on the balcony looking down at my client on stage and his family. The MC called out the prizes one by one [and] he won every last one.”
He continued: “As I went downstairs to them, I was swarmed with hugs from his family and people I don’t even know, saying ‘He’s the designer!’ I gave my client a ‘thumbs up’ and with tears in his eyes, he did the same. I would say that was a major accomplishment because it really propelled me to keep on going down this path.”
The talented fashion designer has worked with numerous pageants and shows over the years. He has had contestants in the following shows: Spirit of the Nation, Rise, Miss Teen Barbados, Arthur Smith Primary Model Search, BMEX 2017 and 2018, Star Strut, Barbados Fashion Week and Barbados on the Water Festival.
Gibbons who also has a love for drawing, graphic design and video editing, said he mainly strives for clean finishes and to make his clients feel good in their clothing. This, he says, makes them feel confident in how they look.
But although he hopes someday to make MAK GIOUS an international brand taking part in everyday wear around the globe, he admits it may be a big task. Mikyle said this is compounded by the fact that while there are many shows that require a fashion designer’s talent it does not translate into sales.
“The local fashion industry is filled with many talented designers and many I look up to, like Lester Welch, Rhajpaul and Rykii De Jude. There are a few fashion shows that go on in Barbados, but very often it doesn’t translate into sales. Culture would have to be built around local brands for that to take place. I would like to see a local brand reach international status.”
Although the industry may have its own challenges, Mikyle still has encouraging words for anyone who wants to pursue a career in fashion designing.
“If you want to be a part of the industry, be ready for pain-staking trials over and over. This trade requires patience and smart decisions. You will need to network with people and make sure your end product brings delight to your customers, only then your brand will grow.
“Don’t spend all your money. Instead, reinvest it back into your business, find yourself someone you look up to in fashion and use them as a guide to build up your brand. But still, keep your own unique style to things and lastly, as Rhajpaul told me, ‘You must stitch straight!’” the designer said.
When all the fuss and fanfare that comes with fashion designing has abated, Mikyle quietly remembers the reason for his blood, sweat, and tears.
“The younger descendants in my family such as my nieces, nephews and my little brother matter most to me. I would like to help them out in any way I can when the time comes to assist in their careers, which is why I’m trying to grow this brand as a stepping stone to help them,” he said. (IMC)