The heritage-rich fashion line Ginen Creations was created by Sophie Patel, a Haiti-born, Haiti/New York-raised fashionista. Follow along as she discusses the trials and jubilation of being a fashion entrepreneur, and what role heritage played in the creation of her line.
Above: Designer Sophie Patel wearing a piece from her clothing line Ginen Creations. Photo Credit: Marc Anthony Chérubin
Kreyolicious: Rarely do people who grow up to be fashion designers, not start out as little girls who loved fashion. Was this the case with you?
Oh, yes. Definitely. I started making my own clothes at a very young age. I was about eight when I would make clothes for my dolls as well as my friend’s dolls. One of my aunts owned a Singer’s vintage machine. I used to love going to her house. Every time she was done working, I hopped on the machine—with her guidance of course—using little bits and pieces of fabrics she had left over. In my older years, I attended an all-girls Catholic school and sewing class was one of the courses available to us—which of course I took advantage of. Had plenty of training.
Kreyolicious: Did you study fashion merchandising?
No. I studied Fashion Design. It’s a funny story. I followed a completely different path from fashion after high school. I doubled majored in International Relations and Modern languages. Also studied a little bit in Child Psychology. It was actually in the recent years I decided to finally study Fashion Design after being pushed and encouraged by close friends and family.
Kreyolicious: I think that sometimes one of the first things that comes in our mind when we see a name is this…”I wonder how this name was inspired?”
The name Ginen Creations. I get asked about it so many times. The name was actually inspired by my love for African culture and it relates to Haitian culture. Me and a close friend came up with the name. I needed a name that I can relate to. A name that describes me, represent me and the business as one. I love African and Haitian culture, and I am fascinated by the story of our ancestors and how Haiti as a country came about. Ginen was just perfect. The garments that I design—even though [they’re] made with African prints—still depict the Caribbean vibe.
Kreyolicious: As a fashion designer, you constantly have to be traveling to trade shows, to meet with clients…what’s it like in day in the life of Sophie, creator of Ginen Creations?
It’s a very busy and hectic life which I love because I’m naturally a busy body. I hand-make everything in all my collections myself so a day for me is constant work, day and nights. I currently [am] finishing my latest collection which I presented at Mimi’s Boutiq Fifth Annual Show. Right now , there is not any sleeping going on [Laughter] I love the traveling. I just came back from Haiti where I had a great shoot with Princess Eud and photographer Jean-Robert Duprat. I love the traveling and all the cool people I meet and get to work with.
Kreyolicious: How do you handle those moments when you feel emotionally and physically exhausted as an entrepreneur?
I go through those moments on a regular basis but I have to remind myself that it is normal. I can’t just stop. Those time will come where everything feel like too much to handle. Thank God I have a great support system. That helps a whole lot.
Kreyolicious: What have you gotten better at…since you started on your entrepreneurship journey?
I have gotten better at a lot. Owning a business has definitely taught me to be more patient, and that [quality] comes [in handy] with everything that I’m dealing with. I pay attention to details more because, of course, I want to put out great work. As a business person I now know the ins and outs the dos and the donts. I feel like my work has gotten better. I’ve learned to express myself creatively so my work usually reflects how I’m feeling.
Photo Credit: Haiti-based singer Ruthselle wears a Ginen Creations piece. Photo Credit: Marc Anthony Chérubin
Kreyolicious: Nothing was built in a day. I think God’s temple took like 40 years or something. What are your long-term plans for your brand?
The main goal right now is to expand to other countries, especially the head wraps which I call Ginenwraps. The goal is to have different partnerships with different stores and have them carry the wraps which are a big part of what Ginen Creations stands for. [Also,] to open my own store. It is a must. I’m also looking to turn the brand into a full blown brand with many products. Right now, I’m just getting mentally prepared for what’s to come.
[Additional photography: Spex Photo]