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"I encourage young people who want to get started.
Really try to understand what your product is and
what your services are. Keep going back to what
is driving you and what about this product you
absolutely love and what makes you believe in it."
Continued from Page 4
"We mapped out the stores in the
North, East, South and West, but we
never even left the North, as all of
the boutiques were ordering," Giselle
said. "Our garments were selling out
in a week. I was now buying my own
T-shirts and paints wholesale. I saw
it was something with a lot of poten-
tial. I didn't know where it was going
there. I just knew there weren't
enough hours in the day."
At that point they were not produc-
ing any garments. They had not reg-
istered a company yet. They were
simply creating designs on rompers
and vests. That, however, was
enough to engender Caribbean inter-
est. NiGi was invited to export their
designs to Barbados through a store
in West Mall.
"Our work is unique because we de-
sign our own appliques and use the
fabrics to create the illusion of texture"
she said. "Our designs are kid friendly,
with not too much detail, bright, clean,
soft, attractive, fun and quirky."
Shortly after, Giselle graduated from
Holy Name Convent and entered the
University of the West Indies (UWI)
and Nicole graduated from St
Joseph's Convent and went to study
at the UWI School of Business and
Applied Studies (ROYTEC). This was
a particularly difficult time for the sis-
ters, as they did not have enough
time to run NiGi at full capacity.
However, shortly before Giselle's
graduation, the sisters got the chance
to secure an even better footing in
Barbados. Giselle was determined
not to let the opportunity pass them
by, even with a full course load.
"After university I was going to apply
for a job and still do NiGi on the side. I
was six months shy of graduating
when a friend introduced me to some-
one who said that they could help us
explore our options in Barbados. We
were introduced to two agents, one
was a Harvey's distributor and the
other was a sales representative for
Caribbean Coffee House."
As Giselle explains, trusting your gut
is important in business and even
though they received a somewhat
clinical, though very healthy, offer
from the first distributor, they chose
to wait and see what the sales rep-
resentative from Caribbean Coffee
House had to say.
This was her reaction: "Oh my God!
You all are NiGi? A friend of mine
gave my son a little romper with a
turtle and he puts it on all the time
to go to the paediatrician and never
wants to take it off. He loves it!"
Needless to say, they were success-
ful and soon started exporting to
Barbados through Caribbean Coffee
House. NiGi came out of Barbados in
2000 and expanded their reach lo-
cally over the last decade. This past
year their girls' line was picked up by
popular US retail chain, Sears, and
offered for sale through their online
"We do classic children's wear,"
Giselle explains. "Classic cuts that
are timeless, and we use standard
McCall's patterns. The age range is
from three months to 12 years old.
We have different lines as well: Baby,
Girl, Tourist, Communion and Gen-
eral. We also do some evening wear."
Even after 24 years, the company
continues to grow. Giselle attributes
this to a few firm principles they
keep focused on over time.
"You have to have that entrepreneur
spirit for the bird to fly," she said. "A lot
of what got us forward was the recep-
tion we got. A lot of young people are
held back by their minds and they start
off thinking 'I don't have enough money;
who's going to help me?' We never
thought that way. Little bit by little bit,
you go out there and don't be afraid,
and talk to people. Engage in simple
language with the people who you
think can help you. When you're in that
meeting either close that deal with that
person at the time or ask that person
who can put you on to someone who
can. When they see that drive in you, in
our experience, they are nothing less
than absolutely encouraging.
"I encourage young people who want
to get started. Really try to under-
stand what your product is and what
your services are. Keep going back to
what is driving you and what about
this product you absolutely love and
what makes you believe in it. That's
the first thing. You will find that the
times things are not going well are
when you've drifted from that;
you've drifted from the core of your
service or of your product. Always
ask yourself, "What makes me
unique and special?" Is it the product
or is it the way you're selling it?
"I want to inspire young people to go
after their dreams. To this day NiGi
gets the same "Ooh" and "Ahhh" we
did 24 years ago and people just
want more and these designs have
not been changed since then," she
said. "Never stop creativity, and use
the world around you for inspiration.
There is nothing more thrilling than
if I'm randomly in the mall or some-
thing and I see a kid spin around in
one of my outfits and they love it
and if I know the person and they
say it's their kid's favourite T-shirt . . .
At that point I know that I'm doing
something right. I want young peo-
ple to know that if they don't give up,
they can have that feeling, too."
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