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Friday, July 25, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales - A Mom in Living Colour
At 44, working mother Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales is the happiest she’s ever been.
Thus far, Sarjeant-Gonzales has relished a flourishing dual career that speaks to both her interests. I asked the happily married mother of one exactly how she manages all her duties and responsibilities.
“I work the hours that my daughter is in school and my weekends are dedicated to my art. My husband is a huge support and really understands me and it reflects in my work,” she revealed. “My daughter Amaya is my little light and partner who paints with me sometimes.”
Career wise, she’s one part radio talk show host, giving her incisive opinions on Take Two, alongside either co-host Wayne Chance or John Benoit on the mid morning shift on I 95.5 FM. Her familiar voice and on-air charm has earned her many a loyal listener over the years. But what many persons do not know is that Sarjeant-Gonzales is also a textile designer who runs a successful business. The journey of this dual-career-mom is one that inspires others to believe in their dreams and also challenges us to be unafraid of exploring our hidden talents.
Her interest in radio started about two decades ago when she was approached by media veteran Tony Lee while she worked at a bank.
“It was nothing planned. Tony liked my voice and asked me if I would be interested in doing radio,” said Sarjeant-Gonzales. The impetus to leave the banking sector came when she was required to stay long hours one particular night to ensure that her account balanced. “I just decided that it was time for a change. I took up the offer and started reading the news at 98.9FM and also worked as a production assistant with Allison Hennessy’s Community Dateline,” she said.
Sarjeant-Gonzales soon began co-hosting an early morning music program at the same station.
She then hosted a program which dealt specifically with women’s issues. “It was really liberating and fun. I think the station had immediate success. At times, we were the number one mid-morning show. The show eventually transitioned where I would have a co-host,” she said proudly. After moving to I 95.5 FM, Sarjeant-Gonzales delved into more political issues along with other topical issues of the day. And for the past three years she has been the contrasting co-host on Take Two.
“We are very different personalities but it’s really enjoyable. I’ve also started co-hosting on a Thursday with Ralph Maharaj who is a mix of politics and theatre.” she quipped.
Sarjeant-Gonzales has enjoyed a long, fruitful career in media thus far, but reveals that her creative, artistic side is the “core” of who she is. Coming from a solid artistic background (her dad is an architect/artist), Sarjeant-Gonzales seems like she was genetically predisposed to following a creative career. “I’ve always loved art and I had an amazing Art teacher (Mrs. Mary Gill) at St. Francois Girls’ College,” Sarjeant-Gonzales revealed. After leaving her alma mater, she continued to have great mentors who helped her technically perfect the art of batik (it’s a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique) but she soon moved on to creating her own signature style.
“I make dye into paint and then paint on fabric. I can paint on any natural fabric but I specialize in silk. It’s wearable art basically,” she revealed.
Sarjeant-Gonzales dedicates her weekends to her art and reveals that the quietude of the early morning at her Diego Martin home helps to get her into “the zone”.
“I start with white fabric and I pick a colour and I start painting. Then I decide whether I want to blend or contrast. I love working with bright, lively colours.”
The fabric goes through a preparation before painting and a chemical process which ensures that the paint stays on. This takes up to three days. “I just really love working with fabric and understanding how the different grades of fabric respond to colour. I honestly cannot say that I have seen other people do what I do,” she said.
Her first textile exhibition was done at age 21 and a few others thereafter. Admittedly, Sarjeant-Gonzales has not hosted one in over a decade because her work is always in demand.
Through word of mouth her niche market grew and today she even supplies to renowned fashion designer Meiling and also exports. Her fabrics are made into uniforms, scarves, couches, curtains and regular clothing.
Just like her parents have always supported her passion, she encourages others to follow their hearts.
“In life, just follow your dreams. My sister always loved medicine and today she is a doctor. I’ve always loved art and I am artist because I was encouraged to be who I am,” said Sarjeant- Gonzales. “It takes a lot of patience and hard work, but do what you love. I’m very passionate about art and it’s therapeutic to me. I also love radio and I have a close bond with people who have been with me from day one. The listeners become part of you. I’m in the happiest place ever.”
For those interested in Lisa’s designs, you can check out her facebook page or call her at 758-4208.