Jemima Camille Harrigan, 22, is possibly one of the most talented local designers you’ll ever come across.
I found my way on the designer’s page after a friend recommended that I do so, and was genuinely impressed at what I saw. But though the styles caught my eye, I immediately noticed two things: how detailed and impeccable her work is; something many designers struggle to achieve. And for her, it seemed effortless. It was as if the items came from a high end store, rather than the girl next door.
When you get a chance, quickly type ‘House of Jem’ in the search bar on Instagram or Facebook; I guarantee that you will be pleased.
Earlier this week, I had a chat with Jemima in our office, and it was there I found out more about the designer with the sparkling personality.
I discovered that though she has always been interested in fashion, she never wanted to pursue it as a career. The young designer told me that it is sciences she has an undying love for, and she has always dreamt of pursuing forensic science.
In fact, she had already started school but that came with its challenges; school was very expensive.
“I was studying abroad; I already completed two years. My plan is to finish the other two so I’m saving up for that,” she informed me.
And I’m sure you are anxious to find out how she ended up in the fashion industry; it’s a long story—I’ll give you the short version.
According to the designer, it all started with a swimsuit she had her eyes on. “I wanted a swimsuit from Victoria’s Secret for my birthday last year. I was turning 21 and I saw the swimsuit—I loved it!”
But unfortunately, when she was ready to purchase the item, it was gone; she was disappointed but like a true champ, decided that if she could not get one, she’d just have to make one herself. And the magic came after.
But she was not always the ‘best’—Jemima who started sewing at an early age stated that, “me sewing was a disaster at first!”
She continued, “So it was years of observing my mother (who is a seamstress), observing other people, taking apart readymade clothes and looking at how they cut it, how they sew it, looking at things online, finding patterns, etcetera.”
And now, she’s reaping the rewards; her business ‘House of Jem’ has been in existence for a year, but already, she is doing quite well.
Currently, the seamstress works from home, hence the name ‘House of Jem’—Jemima.
And she’s swift. When I met up with Jemima, she told me that she had made a pair of madras pants to wear to the interview that same day! (I had requested she wear one of her pieces and since she didn’t have anything, made out of madras at least, she decided to go to her ‘trusted friend’—her sewing machine.
I was impressed. The pants were cute and more importantly neat and detailed.
Her work has just started. Jemima is working on a number of outfits for Creole Day (and a beach party) and barely has time to breathe! She admitted that she’s not taking any more orders at the moment (a disappointment for me).
“By the end of the week I probably would have done about 25 pieces,” she said. Whew!
And when I asked her about her Creole plans, the designer stated that she has none whatsoever.
“I intend to sleep this year; honestly after this week, I think I’ll be half dead so I will probably sleep the entire Sunday morning. Maybe in the afternoon I’ll go somewhere and eat,” she said. Maybe.
And it’s easy to see why she would opt to do so: she’s doing most of the work on her own. (She thanks her sister who does most of the marketing and who makes work a little easier for her).
And though she enjoy what she does, she admits that sometimes work can be a little challenging; she advises aspiring and upcoming designers to be patient.
“I know it can get very frustrating when you’re trying to do something and it’s just not coming out the way you want it to but the look I achieve is because I have patience— a lot of practice too!” she added.
“So it’s really just observing and regurgitating what you observe and having the patience to do it neatly; if it doesn’t come out well, you take it out and you do it again,” the designer said.
Jemima who resides in La Pansee, Castries, hopes to branch out in the future, and make ‘House of Jem’ a regional brand.
And as for what we can expect from ‘House of Jem’ in the near future?
“Hopefully you’ll see some House of Jem Menswear and House of Jem Kids,” she said, adding that the kids’ line will probably be out by Christmas God willing.
And when it does, she hopes to come out with a bang! The designer wants to have a fashion show to introduce her line: “maybe at a popular hangout spot so look out for that,” she said.
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