When Cherie Warner-Richards was sewing bags in her mother’s kitchen in Tobago on a borrowed sewing machine, she never saw herself having her designs in one of Toronto’s biggest malls, the CF Eaton Centre. But she dreamed big and all her hard work paid off.
“It’s awesome! There’s literally nothing that God can’t do,” the designer shared about her journey in a recent interview with The Sunday Gleaner. Never one to limit his imagination, Warner-Richards had a whimsical way of seeing things. She often tapped into her creative side, but she didn’t see herself becoming a designer.
Once she started making bags in 2011, people were fascinated by her designs and wanted to add them to their collections. This positive response gave her all the motivation and courage she needed to not be afraid in her quest to share her artistic works with the world. Many years of perfecting his craft later, his brainchild, Cee Wee Designs, was born. “At Cee Wee Designs, we create wearable art for women who aren’t afraid to stand out. We pride ourselves on creating modern accessories that exude luxury and confidence with plenty of pizzazz,” he said. -she adds.
The crosswalk butterfly station and triangle bags are two of her signature pieces. Her clients appreciate the unique shapes as well as the dynamic and vibrant prints used in each design. “My clients drive me forward. I like to see when a customer is considering a purchase and grabs one of my bags and struts down an imaginary runway. Confidence in your stride is everything!
Speaking of the runway, the accessories designer graced the local scenes at Pulse’s Caribbean Fashionweek in 2014 and 2015 and regionally and internationally at Tobago Fashion Coda and Youth Day Toronto in 2016. She confessed that she is a lover of the runway because she brings her designs to life.
STYLE FROM HEAD TO TOE
“You don’t just see the bag or the earring or whatever the specific creation is, but you see a complete look, styled from head to toe. Then you add the music and the lighting. You’re transported into a whole new realm. You step into the world the designer envisioned when creating her designs. You live the experience. Yes, although the centerpiece of her line of accessories is the chic bags, she By no means is it limited to handbags and the like, Warner-Richards also creates beautifully handcrafted jewelry that embodies Caribbean flair.
Drawing inspiration from just about everything around her, artistic sparks fly from the intriguing color combinations placed in her collection of ideas. “The design phase of running my business is my happy place. Going from ideation to creating the physical product is the most rewarding experience. I love interesting shapes,” she said , adding: “The architecture of the bag is important to me. I am also not afraid to enlarge my creations. My bags must be able to contain more than lip gloss. Unconcerned with trends, the fashion designer aims to create timeless pieces that transcend all phases of evolution and erasure.
Migrating and starting over was far from easy; it meant considering an entirely new market. Initially, she wasn’t sure if potential clients would connect with her bold and dynamic aesthetic. But she went at her steady pace, studying the market as she went, with an eye to growth and development.
Since switching to e-commerce, she has opened the window to incredible opportunities. Accustomed to making sales in person or by referral, that first order on her website remains her most memorable experience.
As an entrepreneur by design, she learned the value of small steps and the importance of developing competence, creativity and consistency in the commercial and design aspect of her brand. “I may not be where I want to be in the end, but I’m exactly where I need to be,” she added with the same confidence she finds in her clients.
Noting that her eclectic style influences her designs, she’s one to rock an all-black ensemble and loves bright colors and bold prints. “My personal style definitely affects my design aesthetic. Most of my designs are bold and colorful and use vibrant prints and color combinations. I love the funk that Erika Badu brings, but I also love a more preppy and cozy, like Charlotte de sex and the city“, she revealed.
The solopreneur’s goal is to make Cee Wee Designs a global accessories brand, representative of opulence and confidence. “My philosophy is very simple: do your best, with what you have, and never stop learning. Ultimately, making my customers happy is paramount to me, so tenacity is my superpower. I am always looking to improve myself. So if you want to become a designer, start designing; sew, create and strive to grow and improve.
For more information about Cee Wee Designs, visit www.ceeweedesigns.com E-mail [email protected] or follow @ceeweedesigns on Instagram.