Silk never fades, says textile designer Lisa Serjeant-Gonzales. She knows what she's talking about; she's been hand-dyeing and painting silk for more than 20 years.
Recently, Sarjeant-Gonzales transitioned from selling lengths of fabric to designing clothes with the fabrics she designs.
During an interview at her boutique, Lisa's Fabrics, 19 Patna Street, St James, Sarjeant-Gonzales said many of her customers weren't always sure what styles best suited the fabrics they bought, and this became her inspiration to design pieces.
The line is a simple, Caribbean-coloured resort-wear collection probably best suited to the vibrant colour blends Sarjeant-Gonzales applies to cloth. Of course, the entire collection is made from silk.
"I've worked with every type of fabric and I decided to specialise in silk because it's the only fabric that keeps its colour. It's beautiful and it feels nice on your skin. I've had people doing therapy come to me because they've been advised to buy silk," she said.
The line's price range is $250-$2,000 because Sarjeant Gonzales said she wanted the clothing to be affordable. The line also includes scarves, which are sold at her boutique and at The Gallery in Long Circular mall. Her silk fabrics are also used exclusively by the designer Meiling. Sarjeant-Gonzales has been working with Meiling for more than a decade.
"I like working with her because she respects my work and she doesn't tell me what to do. She might say I want these colours and that's it. Or she chooses from fabrics I already have."
"I really wanted the cost to be reasonable. I wanted people to wear these clothes, so I tried to keep the prices at a mark where I could benefit and also have the clothes be attainable."
Sarjeant-Gonzales also wanted the average woman to feel comfortable in every piece she created.
"None of the pieces are form-fitting. They're all flowing so anybody, any size can wear them. It's all about feeling pretty and sexy and the clothes don't have to be tight for it to be sexy," she said.
Sarjeant-Gonzales, who is also a radio presenter on i95FM, feels lucky to be able to do something she loves full time. She said there are days she spends painting and is happy to have support from her family to be able to do so. Sarjeant-Gonzales can also credit family for her creativity: her father Reynold was an architect and artist, and she has an uncle who is a painter. Both men influenced her interest in art, she said.
Sarjeant-Gonzales learned to paint by sitting on her father's lap while he worked on canvases as a child.
Later, she would experiment on her own and was also influenced by her studying graphic design formally at what used to be John Donaldson Technical Institute.
She's also influenced by other local artists and artisans who have "amazing talent."
Sarjeant-Gonzales said there is growing support for local craftsmen and she's glad to be part of that movement.
"Buying local supports local and when you support local you contribute to your country. It helps build your country. Other than that, it's not mass-produced. Each piece is an original and people should be proud of what we produce here. We have some amazing talent in this country."
In the near future, Sarjeant-Gonzales hopes to expand to doing menswear as well as home furnishings, but she doesn't plan on hiring any staff or mass-producing items.
Lisa's Fabrics is "a one-woman show, because I don't want anyone else to do my work. I've been placed here to do this. This is my sanity. I'm lucky to earn a living doing this and it never feels like a burden," she said.
"I'll let this go wherever it needs to go. The universe has a path for this and I just have to work with it. I have to work and paint and keep pushing and believing in myself. I have tried other things, but this is what I love."
To find out more about Sarjeant-Gonzales' work visit her Facebook page: Lisa's Fabrics.
Sarjeant-Gonzales is also a vendor at the artisan market, UpMarket, which will be open this Saturday at the Woodbrook Youth Facility, O'Connor St, Woodbrook.