Diminutive fashion designer, Gaynelder Grazette, may be small in stature, but she has huge plans to take the world by storm. Though adept at creating pieces to fit all sizes, she has created her own niche, designing plus-size clothing. Gaynelder was fuelled by the realisation that there was an obvious gap in the market.
She told Today’s Fashion that people find her love for outfitting curvy women strange since she is petite. “I find a lot of brands and designers fall short in creating sexy and modern clothing for plus sizes. They always go for frumpy and dowdy styles. Plump women can be just as sexy, if not sexier. It’s just all about accentuating the assets and camouflaging any flaws. Plus size women range in so many body types and I intend to cater to each and everyone.”
She explained: “I always had a love for dressing curvier women, which people find strange since I am petite. That’s why I launched my plus-size swimwear line in January last year called #GETPLUMP which stands for Pretty Lovely Unique Magnificent Plus size.”
While others might have struggled to find their career path, that was never the case for the 31-year-old. “As long as I knew myself, I wanted to be a fashion designer. From the time I was a little girl, I would find myself making dolly clothing. My dolls would always be fashionable from head to toe. I would do their hair to suit, and I always loved art as well. If you had to ask me to name a plan B right now, I couldn’t. I just believe fashion chose me,” she told Today’s Fashion.
Although Gaynelder always knew what she wanted to do, it was not a straight path to fulfilling her lifelong dream. The former student of Louis Lynch Secondary School said she studied subjects unrelated to her career choice. But the heart wants what it wants, and eventually, she followed her passion for fashion.
“I didn’t do clothing and textiles in school because when we had to choose our subjects, we had stipulations to choose a foreign language and a science, so I had to leave out what I really wanted to do. I remember going to a career expo at the Gymnasium on a tour from secondary school and a teacher from Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) encouraged me to join.”
After enrolling in Garment Technology at the then Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP), an eager Gaynelder became a quick study. She entered the school pageant, which allowed her to show the world what she was capable of.
She copped multiple awards, but the most significant was Best Gown since she had designed and made it herself. After reaping that success, it was all the confirmation that she needed. This was destined to be.
Immediately after that graduation, she started her business Kudos Designs, a name inspired by the accolades she received from her satisfied clientele. With a determination to further improve her skills, she attended the Barbados Community College (BCC) and pursued an Associate Degree in Fashion Design.
Gaynelder thrives on being innovative and dares to be different. Her desire to revere curvaceous women was the catalyst for her fashion show #GETPLUMPED.
“I got the idea because I was turning 30 and as a previous cruise promoter, I wanted to do something different while incorporating fashion into the mix,” she said.
The business owner said she realised that fashion shows she had attended were boring and only managed to attract meagre numbers. She knew a fresh approach was necessary to reinvigorate interest. With that in mind, she decided to invent a fashion party instead. “I removed the seating and ‘stush’ vibe, incorporated performances from popular artistes, dancers, local DJs and vibes.”
Even though #GETPLUMPED was something new and different, it still managed to attract a reasonable attendance. “I was very pleased to see I brought out a different crowd to what you would usually see at a fashion show.”
She recently hosted the second edition with a pre-show element called the Mix and Mingle. It showcased local artists with their artwork and businesses, which sampled foods and beverages. From all reports, attendees thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Though there were some hiccups, she is already planning how she can make her next show bigger and better.
The Kudos Kid, as she is affectionately known, is focussed on growing her brand. “I have been getting international orders and piquing people’s interest because I know I am bringing something new and fresh to the plus-size arena. I always aim to bring that ‘wow’ factor every time.”
While the runway show currently features Barbadian boutiques and designers, she wants to add another dimension by including regional designers and have their creations paraded by a host of regional and international models.
But while Gaynelder is riding on relative success, she is mindful that a person’s foundation is vital. Among those who laid the groundwork for her to become the designer that she is, was her job attachment seamstress Mrs Webb.
She also credits her past teachers who taught her that being yourself is the key. “My first teacher, Mrs Spencer, has made such an impact on who I am in that primary stage of my life,” she said.
Gaynelder wants to emulate those who have assisted her on her journey. “Hopefully one day I can sign onto the job attachment programme from SJPP and take a couple of persons under my wing as I want to give back just as people helped me.”
Similarly, she wants to be a positive example to those entrenched in the fashion scene. “I want to help others grow and understand there is room enough for everybody and that although fashion is repetitive because we are wearing what our mothers wore and their mothers wore, everyone can still bring something fresh to the table. I want to leave a mark where Kudos is always known as being innovative.”
Gaynelder acknowledged that to pursue this career path it takes heart and dedication, love and commitment. For her, hard work and persistence go hand in hand with talent in order to perform at her best. “You may not like it every day, but you must love it. Fashion takes patience and drive. Quality is your main concern because you want to give your customers the best. It is a never-ending learning process.”
She advises: “Be always open to learning new things. That’s the only way you will keep growing.” (STT)