A few years ago Sharren Henry was convinced her destiny would lead her in the direction of a career in culinary arts. She wanted to be a chef. But today, the 24-year-old is living her best life as a fashion designer.
She told Today’s Fashion: “A few years ago, I would have never thought I would have ended up in this direction. I thought I had it all planned but God is in control and He had a different plan for me.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be a chef and own a food service operation and as a result of that, I was mainly focused on Food & Nutrition which was my favourite subject while at Alleyne School. Although I developed a liking for Clothing & Textiles and owned my first sewing machine while doing my SBA and CXC, I put Fashion Design to the side. For three years, I focused solely on pursuing my Associate Degree in Culinary Arts at the Barbados Community College (BCC) Hospitality Institute and then my Bachelor’s in Management (Entrepreneurship) at the University of the West Indies (UWI)”, Sharren explained.
During those three years, she still dabbled with fashion – a longing and temptation she couldn’t quite bury.
“During [that time] periodically, I was still intrigued by Fashion Design and used my free time to learn more about my sewing machine’s features and capabilities, watched YouTube sewing tutorials and made many attempts to construct simple stretch-wear garments from similar ready-made stretch wear garments from my closet such as tube tops and pencil skirts.
“I also learned more about fabrics, taking accurate measurements, constructing more complex garments, and drafting patterns from scratch by trial and error while practicing on myself and close family members that knew of my developing talent.”
However, it was during her first semester at UWI, between September and December 2015, that Sharren, 20 at the time, took a leap of faith.
“It was then I realized that Fashion Design is where my true passion lies and with the words of encouragement and support specifically of my mother, Pamela Henry. There was backing too from other family members and friends and gaining the confidence in my skills, I decided that it was time to take that leap of faith. I departed from UWI at the end of 2015 and began my new journey.” Unfortunately, her dad Warren Hinds died when she was 15-years-old.
Her business, Nerrahs Designs located in Edgehill Terrace, St Thomas, was launched on January 14, 2016. The word Nerrahs (pronounced “Nur-Raz”) is unique because it is ‘Sharren’ spelt backwards.
With the firm decision that this was the definite career course, she decided to complement her skills with qualifications.
“After not having any formal training for the first two years of business or no higher qualification in Fashion Design other than a Grade 2 CXC in Clothing & Textiles, I decided to enroll at BCC to pursue a Certificate in Fashion Design. I later enrolled again and I’m currently pursuing my Associates Degree in Fashion Design to gain even more fashion and business experience and techniques needed to ensure that Nerrahs Designs becomes the brand and business it intends to be.”
Sharren prefers to be versatile. She currently specialises in custom-made garments such as bridal, formal, evening, casual and beach wear, costumes, school and corporate uniforms for both males and females of all sizes and ages. Nerrahs also offers revamping services, zipper and button repair services and alteration services. There is no lingerie line. However, she is willing to make custom-made lingerie for clients who are interested.
“When a client comes to Nerrahs Designs, I strive for them to have an overall great experience from start to finish including honesty, reliability, dedication, open-communication, great time management, top notch customer service as well as high-end execution and quality garments. My customers range from babies and toddlers to adults, both male and female.”
The young designer has done work for numerous occasions but although the volume of orders may increase, she strives to deliver prompt service.
“I have done work for social events such as proms/graduations, photoshoots, weddings, functions, staff parties, baby showers, Hennessy Artistry and Soca/Reggae on the Hill to name a few. I endeavour to ensure that garments are completed in a timely manner and with high-end execution and quality because I know that there is a negative stigma attached to fashion designers/seamstresses.”
But while Fashion Designing is her love, she does not intend to have a single career. After completing her Associate Degree in Fashion Design, Sharren plans to pursue becoming a Clothing & Textiles and Food & Nutrition Teacher along with continuing to be an entrepreneur having multiple streams of income.
“After starting Nerrahs Designs in 2016, I’ve grown to realize that I don’t have to limit myself to one career choice and to trust God’s timing. I also made a pact with myself to be able to say that I’ve used up every single bit of talents and skills that God has blessed me with.
Sharren also confessed that she has a keen interest in make-up artistry. “At the beginning of this year, I decided to re-launch and re-brand my makeup business formerly known as Fancyfaces that I started in 2013 but got discouraged and was not consistent with my craft. However, through the years, I got way better by practicing on myself and in January 2020, I renamed my makeup business ‘Makeup by Shar’. I decided that this time around I will stick with it because slow progress is better than no progress at all.”
The designer hopes to get others to see her as a “versatile, most sought after fashion designer in Barbados and also internationally” with a reputation known for creating exquisite gowns for pageants.
For those with talents who have doubts about a career in vocational areas, Sharren’s advises: “Believe in yourself, be consistent and always be open to improving your talent and skills. Be open to constructive criticism. Focus on the quality of your garments and building clientele that will bring repeat business. Don’t be discouraged during the beginning stages of business. Never compare yourself to others.”
During her free time, the entrepreneur usually relaxes. Recently, she has developed a new interest in painting.
Her mantra: “Being true to myself, being healthy mentally, physically and emotionally, being resilient and courageous, being aware of the people I surround myself with, having healthy connections and relationships with family and friends, trusting God to guide me in the right direction and taking full advantage of my talents and skills,” Sharren told Today’s Fashion. (IMC)