Four years ago, as a student at University of the West Indies in Economics, Jami Spence and a friend exercised their creative inspirations into a collection of backless, asymmetrical, cropped and chopped women’s shirts. They splashed popular phrases across the fronts and sold them to their classmates. This was the beginning of Yahdie Conscious, Jamaica’s current trendsetting casual wear line that introduced peplums, crop tops and fringe dresses this summer to Jamaica’s fashion know-hows. Now out on her own, Spence has expanded and developed a spin off line of hair accessories called GlamHEAD, which is dramatically growing amongst Kingstonians. With no formal training in design, Spence works off her own creative instincts, employing 4-5 tailors to help develop her concepts. Her unique sense of casual wear allows you to take her designs from day to night seamlessly. See what she had to say about love for fringe dresses, buying local fabric and new stock for Hero’s Weekend.
KS: The current Yahdie collection is very playful, it’s reminiscent of 80s styles. What made you turn to those forms?
YC: I’ve always been somewhat of an 80’s baby. I’ve always love 80s fashion, movies and music. As well as I do have a more relaxed sense of style, so I’m trying to bring that more into Yahdie. I know most people when they think fashion line they think couture and that’s not what Yahdie is about. It was a summer collection so I was thinking of comfortable pieces but still pieces that are going to stand out. Like the fringe dress, I wore one to a party and people were like, ‘Whoa, I like your dress!’ Clearly I tried to keep up with the trends, without feeling like you can’t wear it next year. I don’t think Christmas will ever be formal, but for Christmas I may have to step up the type of fabric.
KS: When did you start GlamHEAD?
YC: I started in early 2011. Really I had started to get into headpieces, and when I went away to Topshop I was like, ‘Why are they charging all this money for these little headbands?’ So I said maybe I can make them. I made some for myself and I put them up on BBM and somebody wanted to buy it. It just took off and I started doing all kinds of styles. The focus now is to just keep making new pieces because headbands aren’t new, everywhere you go people are trying to sell headbands, so I’m just trying to make sure mine are on another level. The prints that I use, you’re not going to find them everywhere because it’s a print that I bought and after it finish, that’s it. So that’s how I tried to keep it fresh.
KS: I know that it’s kind of limited sometimes finding a variety of different or newer fabrics in Jamaica, where do you get yours?
YC: Well I do have the smaller fabric shops that I can find cool prints from. It might not be a lot, that is my biggest problem. You might find a really cool piece, but from it you can only get like one dress or two dresses, or if I’m doing headbands, I can probably only do about ten. But basically all of the fabrics I’m using, I bought down here, and people are surprised but you just have to know where to locate it.
KS: You sell currently at Style Saavy Boutique in 7th Avenue Plaza. Do you have an international platform?
YC: The website is up, it went up in December 2010 but at the time it was really a lot of stock that we had from before. It’s there but I haven’t updated it. So right now that is my focus to revamp it and I want to put the headbands on it, I hope before the end of the year. And from Facebook, I have actually shipped out pieces to people internationally who were willing to pay the shipping fee, which surprisingly wasn’t as much as I expected. If people ask me and I tell them the cost and they are willing, then of course I’ll send it to them.
KS: What do you have planned for the near future?
YC: Right now I’m focused on Hero’s Weekend. I want to put out some new GlamHEAD pieces. There were some Yahdie pieces that are sold out, like the fringe dress, and I want to do a new set of colors. After October, I will focus on Christmas pieces. I don’t want to go too formal but I do want to still have people be like, ‘Wow, that’s Yahdie?’ Somebody from Barbados has contacted me about doing a fashion show up there next year, so I’m in talks with them about that. I’m crossing my fingers, because I’ve never done a fashion show outside of Jamaica. Just to branch out from Jamaica would be a nice change.