31 CARIBBEAN WOMEN TO WATCH
This Women’s History Month we celebrate the diverse contribution of Caribbean women both at home and in the diaspora. Caribbean women have proven to be trailblazers in fields such as politics, business, entertainment and the arts, sports, and science. Without a doubt these 31 women are ones to watch as they continue to demonstrate the multifaceted nature of the Caribbean woman:
With a killer wardrobe and a squad that includes Solange Knowles, Shiona is most definitely one of the most stylish women in the world. Turini is a creative consultant, freelance fashion editor and stylist from Bermuda who is based in New York City. Shiona’s career accomplishments include serving as the public relations coordinator for Yves Saint Laurent, working with Carine Roitfeld to launch the CR Fashion Book and becoming fashion market director for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She has continuously made a name for herself in the fashion industry as one of its leading experts.
Funny girl, Amanda Seales is a proud Grenadian-American creative. She’s a comedian, host, culture critic and content creator who tackles serious topics such as sexism, racism and rape culture with humor. Amanda’s commentary and reactions were at the center of a debate on CNN on catcalling that went viral in 2014. Her recent work includes the scripted comedy ‘Get Your Life’ which can be seen on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel.
Barbadian Cecile Watson is the CEO and founder of Pitch&Choose, a Caribbean crowdfunding platform with the aim of providing access to capital for ventures and activities. A former banker and senior business leader, Cecile has now found purpose as an entrepreneur. Among her plaudits is the distinction of being the first Barbadian to graduate with a First Class honors degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of the West Indies.
Tahliah Debrett Barnett, known by her stage name FKA Twigs, is an English-Jamaican singer, songwriter, producer and dancer. Her debut studio album, LP1, was released in August 2014 to widespread critical acclaim and peaked at number 30 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. This album was also responsible for FKA Twig’s first ever Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package in 2015.
Cecile Emeke is a Jamaican-British filmmaker, director, writer and artist based in London. Cecile’s most popular work are the online documentary series ‘Strolling’ and the short film ‘Ackee and Saltfish’ which spun a series. Both projects speak to the experiences of black youth in Britain. Her films have been showed in a number of global festivals e.g. The BFI London Film Festival, The Tribeca Film Festival, The American Black Film Festival, Urban World Film Festival and The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.
Aria Francis is a Grenadian model who has been in the business since 2010. This rising star has twice graced the runways of NYFW. She has, most recently, walked in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 Fashion Show and the debut of his seventh solo studio album on February 11th 2016. Aria has also been featured in online editorials for Vogue Italia, the Huffington Post and Essence.
Donna Every is a Barbadian accountant turned entrepreneur, motivational speaker and trainer. After being employed for more than 10 years at one of the Big Six Accounting Firms of the 1990s, her career trajectory changed when she decided to pursue entrepreneurship as a means of helping people live more fulfilling lives. Donna is the author of several books including ‘What Do You Have in Your House? Surviving in Times of Financial Crisis’, ‘The Promise Keeper’ and ‘Arise and Shine.’
Arlene Villarule is one of the most sought after makeup artistes in Trinidad and Tobago with more than 10 years’ experience in the field. Arlene’s experience has taken her from working with Giorgio Armani Cosmetics in London to becoming an entrepreneur with her own studio in her homeland while launching her own line of makeup.
Nerissa Golden is an award-winning media strategist, business innovations specialist, speaker and author from Montserrat. Nerissa is the CEO of Goldenmedia, a company that develops communications strategies for clients. Goldenmedia focuses on digital or traditional media, TV/film production, marketing, event promotion, press junkets, and crisis communications. Nerissa was the recipient LIME Montserrat’s Technology Award in 2012 and was named one of TechLink’s top Caribbean Innovators in 2013.
Paola Mathé is a lifestyle blogger, writer, photographer, entrepreneur and designer of Haitian descent who resides in New York City. She is the founder of Fanm Djanm (which means Strong Woman in Creole), a collection of headwraps, clothing and accessories. Additionally, Paola has ventured into the world of printmaking to create her own custom fabrics.
Jamaican Patria-Kaye Aarons took the leap from the corporate world to entrepreneurship when she launched her company Sweetie Confectionery. Patria-Kaye noted a lack of authentic Jamaican candy flavors and decided to use her company to fill this gap. Sweetie Confectionery manufactures candy with flavors such as guava, jackfruit, mango, june plum and pomegranate. In 2015, the company forged a partnership with two British distribution companies, Ashanti Imports and JLB Shipping, to service the needs of the Jamaican diaspora in England.
Savannah Baker is a stylist, photographer and creative director who represents Jamaica, New York and London. Her work fuses Jamaican reggae-dancehall flavor with the Japanese Harajuku street style. This is most evident in her brand Pum Pum Socks- a collaboration with Gemma Shane. This bold statement accessory was highly favored by Rihanna and has been worn by Rita Ora and Lana del Rey.
Dr Diva Amon is a Trinidadian marine biologist whose work focuses on deep-sea biology chemosynthetic environments, anthropogenic impacts on the deep sea, marine conservation and marine ecology. She completed her PhD at the University of Southampton and the Natural History Museum, London, U.K. in 2013. Dr Amon is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Giselle Williams-Thomas is a Trinidadian-born New York-based artist, designer and founder of Gigi + Nini Designs. She is an expert at script art and designs hand lettered logos for blogs, fashion and beauty brands. Giselle is also a celebrity style editor and staff writer for Fashion Bomb Daily.
Kimberly Farrah Singh
Kimberly Farrah Singh is the current holder of the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago title and an aspiring attorney. Kimberly’s road to the 2015 Miss World pageant in Sanya, China was an arduous one. She was dethroned as the representative in October and subsequently regained her title a month later after filing an injunction against the franchise, taking the matter into arbitration. Kimberly’s resolve in this matter won her the support of many in Trinidadian society.
Grenadian Kittisha Doyle is the winner of the second cycle of Caribbean’s Next Top Model. The nineteen year old model beat 20 other contestants from across the Caribbean with her charm, talent and physique. Miss Universe 1998, Wendy Fitzwilliam, who is the producer of CNTM has said of the model “I am especially excited about Kittisha. Her development over the course of the cycle from a fledgling young beauty into a confident model is certainly impressive. She’s like a diamond in the rough… The level of confidence that she has developed and the knowledge garnered from this experience has certainly prepared her to take the world catwalk by storm”.
Nikita Browne is a Barbadian singer whose music contains a fusion of R&B, Soul music, Pop, Alternative mixed with the sounds of the Caribbean. In 2013, she expanded her repertoire to include soca. The highlights of her career thus far include performances at the St Vincent Jazz Festival, The Naniki Jazz Festival in Barbados, and touring with Machel Montano and the HD Band for Trinidad Carnival 2014, My Barbados Weekend 2014 and Beijing, China.
Dr Nalini Mohabir is a Canadian researcher of Guyanese descent. Her work focuses on areas such as Caribbean studies, postcolonial studies, decolonization, diaspora, and citizenship and belonging. She has lectured at the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus and has also been a Postdoctoral Fellow and York University in Canada.
Nolana Lynch is a Trinidadian environmentalist and founder of Eco-Truffles, an eco-friendly, natural skin and hair care line. Nolana’s products utilizes oils, butters and herbs sourced from rural women producers in the Caribbean. In 2015, she was awarded Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work for the Caribbean region. In addition to her environmental and entrepreneurial pursuits, Nolana is also a PhD Candidate in Tropical Earth and Environmental Science.
Safiya Sawney is a Grenadian environmental and climate change consultant. She is a policy analyst at Climate Analytics, a non-profit climate science and policy institute, and is based at its New York office. Safiya also provides technical advice to St. Patrick’s Environmental and Community Tourism Organization (SPECTO). She is committed to driving change and making climate change adaptation at the forefront of political agendas.
Minister of Tourism the Honourable Shamfa Cudjoe, MP has proven to be a voice to be reckoned with in Trinidad and Tobago politics. Born and bred in Tobago, Minister Cudjoe has devoted her life to the service of the people of the twin-island republic. Prior to entering public service as a Minister and Member of Parliament, Minister Cudjoe was employed at the Tobago House of Assembly as a Trade Analyst where she represented the island in various negotiations and consultations.
Great things are expected of Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller as she prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Shaunae, whose pet event is the 400M, already has gold medals in the IAAF World Youth & World Junior Championships, NCAA Indoor Championships and bronze at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Her greatest accomplishment thus far, however, is a Silver Medal in the 400M at the 2015 edition of the IAAF World Championships.
Shelly Marshall – Shelly Marshall, Island Pops
Shelly Marshall, recently claimed a $15,000 prize from the 12th Annual Brooklyn Library PowerUp Business Plan Competition for Island Pops, a frozen dessert company that will sell hand-crafted ice cream, ice pops and shaved ice in flavors rooted in Caribbean culture.
Shivana Jorawar is an Indo-Caribbean feminist, lawyer and reproductive justice advocate of Guyanese descent. She serves as the reproductive justice program director for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum in Washington D.C. Shivana is the co-founder of Jahajee Sisters, a movement-building organization that is driven by the desire to create a safe and equitable society for all Indo-Caribbean women.
Simmone Bowe is a Bahamian-bred writer, trainer, strategist, consultant and change initiator. She is the author of three books: ‘Communication of a Higher Order’, ‘Help! I Need a Job’ and ‘By Design: Principles for Choosing a Career’. Simmone is also the founder of Strategic Transitions, a training and HR consultancy firm, a youth empowerment program called Life Success Principles and the Recharge Women’s Empowerment Group.
Grenadian illustrator and painter Stacey Byer’s work can be found in various art collections across the globe. She is the co-curator of the Women Make Art (WOMA) group in Grenada. Stacey was the first Grenadian artist to be featured in ARC magazine‘s debut issue as an upcoming artist to watch. She also served as the illustrator of ‘Fun, Fun, One Crab on the Run’, a book by best-selling Cuban author Mario Picayo.
Grenadian Tamara Prosper is the founder of Tambran by Tamara. Tamara’s vision for her jewelry and accessories brand is to utilize the waste material from companies to produce wearable, unique, fashionable accessories for the modern individual. Therefore, the primary raw material for Tambran by Tamara is scrap wood residue from wood work and carpentry shops. Tamara has already received several awards including the Best Environmental Entrepreneur in the Caribbean, in the United Nations Development Program and the Young Americas Business Trust- Caribbean Innovation Challenge.
Teocah Dove is a youth and community development consultant, activist, and social entrepreneur from Trinidad and Tobago. She first started volunteer life at the age of 16 and has served her country in various capacities since then. She is currently Trinidad and Tobago’s representative in the United Nations Development Program’s Caribbean Youth Think Tank. In recognition of her work, Teocah was a recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in June 2015 and was named as one of the Atlantic Dialogues 40 Emerging Leaders from around the world in October 2015.
Photo Credit- http://aintilatina.com/2016/02/03/meet-juliana-pache-creator-of-blacklatinxhistory/
Juliana Pache, an Afro-Cuban/Dominican singer, writer and marketer, took to Twitter to share the accomplishments of prominent Afro-Latinx individuals. Hence, the #BlackLatinxHistory hashtag was born. The hashtag encourages others to include Afro-Latinx stories and moments in discourse surrounding Black History Month. (The term Latinx, pronounced La-teen-ex, is a gender-neutral term. Latinx is more inclusive of identities that don’t necessarily fit into the man-woman binary.)
Carolina Contreras, better known as Miss Rizos, advocates for women with Afro-textured hair to embrace their true selves. As the founder of Santo Domingo’s first natural hair salon, 29 year-old Miss Rizos provides an alternative to the old Eurocentric standard of beauty that has plagued the Dominican Republic for decades. It all started with a blog, which Miss Rizos started to provide hair tutorials and empowerment to women who wanted to wear their hair naturally. As the blog and her YouTube channel grew in popularity, she decided opening a salon was the next natural step. Her goal is to move acceptance of black features in the Dominican Republic forward; her message is that beauty and hair-care should be an act of self-love.
Sara Stanford is a Jamaican entrepreneur and owner of Bliss Bridal Boutique in Jamaica. Sara is the only authorized dealer on the island for several brands that the boutique carries. Bliss Bridal Boutique provides brides with the opportunity to buy or rent gowns from some of the world’s most renowned designers. Throughout the years Sara has persisted on her mission to revolutionize the bridal industry in Jamaica.