How one woman uses banana leaves to make clothing
BEING a housewife in no way diminishes Natasha David’s desire to earn some money on her own to help out the family. It also makes her feel good about being able to use her hands to create items that are beautiful enough to be displayed at an exposition.
And that’s what she’s been doing for years now. In fact, she even has a business called ‘Creative Designs’ where she would use various types of materials to make clothing; especially designing indigenous costumes and clothing.
Natasha, 42, has always been a very shy individual, owing to the manner in which she grew up. Her mom was very strict and raised her not to mix and meddle too much with other neighbour’s kids.
But growing up, Natasha realised that she needed to be a bit more outgoing, especially when entering the world of work.
Fortunate for her, meeting popular designer Sonia Noel had a good effect on her personality, especially after starting to participate in Noel’s ‘Fashion Weekend.’ “I have to thank Sonia who helped me move away from being so shy and becoming more confident,” she reflected during an interview with the Pepperpot Magazine.
After finishing school, Natasha did various courses at Carnegie including catering, floral arrangements, table management, craft, fabric work, cake decoration, food and nutrition, interior designing and home décor.
“What I especially like is craft and designing; designing indigenous costumes and clothing. Working with these gives you joy and seeing people out there wearing your stuff make you feel happier,” she expressed.
It all began when, at a Columbian fair at the National Gymnasium, Natasha purchased a ribbon stripper. “I tried dressing a doll and saw it came out far prettier than the one in the little booklet I received with the ribbon stripper.”
When Natasha’s sister saw how well she dressed the doll, she wanted it for herself and was taking it home when others noticed it in her hand and began inquiring who made it. “It was around Christmas time and my sister got five orders for me. The people wanted it in pairs.”
Natasha continued decorating the little dolls that are used for ornaments. She recalls that at one ‘Guy Expo,’ two persons went up to her after admiring her dolls and told her that she should get into the clothing business.
One of the persons was her neighbour at Guy Expo, who told her that she should show her
work to Noel, who was also at the expo. “I was so shy, I didn’t go. Until the next day, my neighbour urged me again to go. After I went, Sonia came over and saw my dolls and said I can indeed get into clothing.”
Without even thinking, Natasha responded yes to Noel. “And that’s where I started. This was in 2008. When I got home, I thought about it. I just thought about what I would put on my dolls and I figured it out. So today, if you come to me with something, I would just picture it on a doll, and give you something to wear.”
Natasha ended up getting into clothing and even using banana leaves to make clothes. “I took part in Fashion Week and started to do the banana leaf clothing. Everything I did on the dolls, I designed so that someone can wear it. I thought to myself a lot of people are doing clothing, but I wanted to be different and do something that people don’t normally do.” After the third Fashion Week, Natasha started working with straw. I did my dolls and from there, I started focusing on indigenous clothing.”
And Natasha’s work especially comes in handy when the various schools would celebrate ‘Culture Day.’
“When the banana leaves get dry, I make clothing with them; picture frames with them and different things,” Natasha said.
During Amerindian Heritage Month, persons would also seek out Natasha’s services. In the past, she designed for the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, and for pageants at Mabaruma, Port Kaituma, Mahdia and Baramita.
Natasha works mainly from her home in Turkeyen, based on the orders she receives. She would also participate at the various expos held across the country. She is hoping to go to Trinidad soon for the same purpose.
Natasha believes that her service is unique because of the manner in which she carries out her work. “I try to use fewer materials that are selling in the stores and be more natural…using seeds, leaves and these things; things that are most organic so that you can see the beauty of natural things. Most times people throw away or burn these materials, but you can do so much with them.”
Natasha is married to Clairmonte and they have a son, Tafari.