Minka Knits Her Independence

Jamaica Gleaner

Kavelle Anglin-Christie, Staff Reporter

There is no other way to put it. Gillian Francis, more popularly known as Minka, is a free spirit.

Her beautiful and well-done crochet designs have been seen by most. Still, they may not know the story behind this singer-turned-designer-turned-Rasta-turned-Buddhist and numerologist, now on her way to becoming a naturapatholgist.

It’s only natural that this Jill of all trades would have aroused your curiosity and she makes no apologies.

About your designs, why did you decide to start crocheting?

Basically, I always loved to design and cut up my jeans and that sort of thing when I was younger. I wasn’t so savvy on sewing and I still am not, but when I was growing up I learnt to crochet at about 10 years old. At that time, I was mostly making bags. I didn’t know that it was possible to make clothes that way and that it would become so popular.”

What are some of the obstacles you have faced in the fashion industry?

Since I’m so positive it’s so hard to look at things as obstacles, but one of the main problems that I have is the lack of funds. I could do so much more if I had the capital. Basically, every day I get a new order and sometimes when I do a show or come in a magazine I get as much as 200 pieces and it’s really a lot, so I have to come up with a business plan to buy the things and get them done.

When and how did you get started?

I moved back to Kingston from Westmoreland when I was 19. I was working as a graphic artist. I used to make jewellery and dress people, so I was kinda like a personal shopper. Then I was able to buy a couple of balls of thread and that sort of thing. It’s just now that I started to take it really seriously. I registered the business and that sort of thing and decided to get some financing. Now I really want to target the boutiques and that sort of thing.

Why did you switch from Saint International’s ‘Fashion Block’ to Pulse’s ‘Caribbean Fashionweek’ this year?

I wouldn’t say that I switched. Ever since I became a designer Kingsley and Romae have been asking me to be a part of Caribbean Fashionweek (CFW), but for some reason I was never available. I always travelled during the summer so that was a major problem.

Although Saint was the one I started with, Kingsley’s crowd is a bit different. Deiwight does it more for the people and for Kingsley it is more business. There was a lot of pressure there, but there was no chaos. I felt there was definitely less chaos than I am used to with Deiwght. It’s a lot of politics there, in terms of, if you do Fashion Block you can’t do CFW. But I don’t mind working with anyone who is willing to work with me.

What are your career goals?

I want my clothes to be found in all the fashion capitals of the world. I also want to empower a lot of people to crochet and knit; this can help them to make a business out of their art. I love to teach. Not a lot of people focus these days on being domesticated. Most women now go out and work, so I want to provide a business where they are able to stay at home and provide for their children.

Where can people find your designs?

Right now, at La Pluma Negra, the CFW Fashion Boutique at the Pulse Entertainment Centre, Shades of Africa and in the west at the Cool Runnings Water Park.

Who are your clothesmost suited for?

Everyone. From babies to grandmas. Apart from having things custom-made, I try to cater to a variety of people. There is something for everyone.


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Caribbean Fashion Week 2009

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