By Jacoba Vlugman
If you look up ‘confidence’ in the dictionary, you’re likely to find a picture of Rhaj Paul. From his unique tailored style to his eye-catching beard, Rhaj exudes a level of self-assurance that we all strive for.
“Confidence comes out of excellence—knowing what you want to do, how you want to do it, and the level you want to operate on. Keep pushing yourself and challenge yourself all the time, thinking, ‘that was good, but this next thing is going to be better.’ Always try to excel, and your confidence grows naturally.”
This way of thinking developed when he first altered a pair of pants at 12- years- old on his mother’s old sewing machine. With no knowledge of tailoring, Rhaj transformed an old pair of pants to match the new styles he admired from the men in church. Although self-conscious at first, wearing a piece that he was able to make his own sparked a motivation to try again and do better the next time around.
Rhaj also discussed how developing your creative self ultimately leads to growth in confidence. According to him, as you build your creative self through expression and realise that your presence, abilities, and skills have a purpose, you add to your sense of self, confidence, and general well-being. This, he says, can help you overcome other issues in various aspects of life.
“It’s key for you to ask yourself, ‘how can I handle this in a different way?’ That broadness of application of what’s working in a particular area and applying it to other areas of life . . . that’s you opening up your creative self, right there,” he asserted.
He continued: “As you become a more creative person and internally build your creativity, solutions come to you in a way that never would have come before. Opening your mind to new possibilities of how something can be addressed as you being able to handle mental stress, issues, and challenges because you’re now open to new ways of solving and gain a solution-driven mentality.”
Having this creative mindset further evolves a person’s confidence, and the development of an intuition one can trust.
More often than not, men have difficulty opening up to others and finding a community to help them through issues, discuss ideas, or simply spend time. However, Rhaj found all this and more in his mentor and friend, Barbadian designer Roland “Rojoe” Bascombe.
“Rojoe was my first community. I had somebody with whom I could hone my skills and sense of self through this art form.”
Throughout his career, Rhaj has also done a commendable job of uplifting the designer-creative community in Barbados. He sees building community excellence as helping challenge the negativity put in place by society and elevating community standards.
He says: “Somebody has to take the step towards sharing. As your confidence grows, you’ll find the ability to share with others without fear [of imitation]. What I care about is helping people achieve excellence.”