While Keneisha Bryan is making great strides in fashion, her ultimate goal is to become a Forensic Scientist or Forensic Psychologist.
However, that does not mean that the bag and accessories designer/maker is not intent on being successful using her God-given talent.
The 25-year-old told Today’s Fashion that she has a path set out for her business Xquisique Designs by Ken, which was started January 1st, last year.
“I would like to have my products all over the world. I have made bags for people living in America and Canada already. Even one of my customers returned this year and brought another visitor to purchase a bag. But I want to be able to ship worldwide so a potential customer does not necessarily have to visit Barbados to purchase one of my pieces. I also want to have some of my products available in retail stores locally.”
She continued: “My vision for my products is that they should be exquisite and unique, thus Xquisique became a combination of ‘exquisite’ and ‘unique’ with a twist. The word designs came because I create and ‘Ken’ is from my name; most people call me Ken.”
Located in Bridge Gap, BlackRock, St. Michael, Xquisique Designs by Ken offers clutch purses for girls and women. The clutches have various styles which can be done using wool or fabric, in any pattern or colour.
“I also offer a range of accessories made of canvas, as well as pearls (necklaces, earrings and bracelets). The pearl accessories take a lot less time than the canvas products, but I enjoy doing the canvas products more. In addition, the canvas accessories are more unique.
“I cater to as young as three years old and as old as 80. However, most of my customers are between 20 and 45 years old. Character and floral clutch purses are popular for the kids,” she said.
Keneisha has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, Psychology (minor) from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. She wants to complete a Master’s Degree in forensics science/psychology. But even with her qualifications she found it extremely difficult to secure a job. Ironically, that disappointment and depression is what led her to using her talent.
“My journey started towards the end of 2018. After months of sending out countless applications, I began to question my purpose. I had all of this knowledge and potential and was unable to use it because no one would give me a chance.
“Over time, I began to lose hope of not being able to find a job and other personal things which took me to a dark place. Depression is very real.
One day, I woke up and said to myself: ‘Ken, stop feeling sorry for yourself.’”
The designer added: “A period of searching took me back to the good old days of Vacation Bible School at St. Leonard’s Anglican when we spent many summers making various crafts out of plastic canvas. I was good at doing those patterns and I enjoyed it. I just never got the time to do it because I was focused on school. I did some planning, practising and made various bags for myself including a leopard print handle clutch and an envelope clutch (to match my Christmas attire).
“I also had a trial run where I made a bag for an associate’s mom for Christmas (before launching). I realised that this was something I could get into and it was a market that is not being explored here.
The former Queen’s College student admitted that she was always good with her hands, like her dad, Kenneth.
“I choose this business because plastic canvas is something I am good at working with and not many people incorporate it into fashion. I want that when people speak about clutches made from plastic canvas, they think of Xquisique Designs by Ken. I want to specially thank my mom, Lorna and best friend, Brenya, for continuous support and advice from the start.”
Keneisha said there were some hurdles in the beginning but she had no regrets. “When I started, the major challenge was getting myself out there. So that included having a social media presence trying to reach potential customers and gain followers. Also, because most of my work is customised and personalised, it was hard to showcase my full potential based on bags I had done previously.
“I have no regrets. I believe everything happens for a reason. Everything I have faced or done previously has led me to where I am today. Everything happens in God’s time and I trust Him. At times, it may be hard to see but He has a plan for us and all we need to do is trust Him,” she said.
The process to get to the finished product can be tedious. “Clutches can take between one to five days to complete depending on the complexity of the pattern (wool) or if it’s fabric. An envelope fabric clutch takes me less than a day to make but let us say, a floral, wool, envelope clutch could take up to 4/5 days. There are variations to the envelope clutch. Unless specified, I cut the canvas according to the pattern I am doing or the fabric I am using. From there, it is just to fill the canvas if using wool or cover it if using fabric and line the bag. But before lining the bag, I attach the clasp (s). Once it’s lined, I close it by sewing the sides together. Every clutch is branded with my logo on the inside.”
The designer explained that the reason she pays great attention to detail is because quality and customer satisfaction are an integral part of the service and products she offers. “I give clients the same treatment I would want as a client. I am professional and understanding. If the client has a vision, I make that vision become a reality. If not, I find out what they like, their age range, etc., so that my creation best suits them. I want the bag to speak for them. I want that when they wear the clutch anyone seeing them would say ‘oh, she’s simple yet elegant’ or ‘wow, I could tell she’s a hot stepper, look at that clutch’.
“In essence, I strive for quality and client satisfaction. Not all customers are the same but there are some that make everything difficult for others because you are forced to implement policies that impact all customers. I recently had to implement a 50 per cent non-refundable deposit due to an unforeseen circumstance that negatively impacted my business.”
Xquisique Designs by Ken was showcased at Holetown Festival and the following week at a ‘Pop Up’ Shop located at Divi Southwinds. Keneisha hopes to have her products showcased at bigger events.
The entrepreneur shares her recipe for success and advises those reading on to invest in their future.
“Just do it! It is important to plan, strategize and weigh options within a business but there comes a point in time when you just have to take that leap and believe that everything will fall into place accordingly. There is a saying that goes… ‘Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.’
“I had to start somewhere and once I did, I was able to know where I needed to make changes and what I needed to improve on. There is no success without failure! There are no cheap shortcuts in marketing or anything. If you want good quality, pay for it. Invest in yourself financially and educationally.”
But it isn’t all work for the business owner. “I really love watching movies. I also love the beach and sunsets. Nothing is more calming for me than being on the beach watching the sun go down. I am really at peace then. I sometimes unwind by having a glass of wine. Travelling is another thing I love to do.”
Keneisha contends that balancing work and life is very important. “This is something I continue to struggle with but I am getting better. At the end of the day, what matters most to me are: God, family and friends,” she said. (IMC)