Eldica Jackson is a formidable force in fashion.
Taking the industry by surprise with her luxuriously comfortable, yet affordable pieces, Eldica has infused her clothing with a message of strength that can truly survive the test of time.
We spoke with her between appointments to capture her expertise on what it means to be a designer in today’s evolving world.
Eldica, you started Emajstyle with such an organic concept! Can you give more insight on how you were able to conceptualize the creation of original hand-painted tees? Are all the tees individually painted?
The entire concept of handpainted t-shirts came out of my love for art and just wanting to create something. Also, I have this love for African prints. I wear my hair tied up all the time when I’m at home. I just thought that that was something…you know in my mind we’re all queens and I just wanted to share that with the world.
The faces were just a vehicle for me to be able to do something 3D with the prints that I’d see. I’d go into the fabric store and I’d see prints all the time, prints that I love, and I just wanted to explore the idea of actually painting this face on this t-shirt and having this likeness worn by people that also love art and fashion and African prints.
The t-shirts that I’m selling now though are not handpainted. They are my original designs. They have actually grown and matured from what I did first.
What I did originally was just lips and the shape of a face and a 3D headwrap that I sewed on. What happened was, I started exploring a lot of the African tribes and Asian tribes and things like that and that’s where I actually got inspiration from for this new line of faces.
The collection that I created now is called the Cryptic Queen collection. While they are inspired by different African and Asian tribes they’re also very futuristic and it is indicative of where the world is going and where young entrepreneurs in this country are trying to take The Bahamas.
What inspired you to use the term “survival gear” when describing your clothing?
I’ll tell you what survival gear came, honestly, from my life experiences, my mood while I was in creation. Last year I experienced a tragic loss in my life and I really, really, really had to dig deep down inside to find my strength.
Also, you know, while I was grieving, I had to put my grief aside for friends and other associates that were losing their loved ones. I don’t know what was going on with 2019 but that’s what was happening. And then there was a huge loss for our country. You know, Grand Bahama and Abaco in the last and we all felt hurt. We all felt that. Right now this survival of the fittest.
Things are tough in this country.
I wanted to give Bahamian people clothes that they could wear and feel comfortable and confident in because we gatta be soldiers, you know, we gatta survive this tough life in this country. That said, the brand is actually built on strength and resilience and the ability to be able to rise above all the challenges of life and conquer life, you know?
Your iconic symbol – what is it and how did you select that as your brand image? Did you create it yourself?
The symbol was actually inspired by an African hieroglyph, one that, in my art, just kept showing up. I took it and flipped it and ironically it turned into an “E”.
The other way around, it means taking initiative and I feel like I’ve taken the initiative to create this, not just for myself but for my people.
So, it’s a symbol that coupled with the EMAJ brand is a symbol of strength, cause we gatta rise above. Anything that happens we gatta rise above.
Let’s get really real for a second. You provide a luxury product. In times where clothing stores and clothing consignment stores are all the rage because of their low prices, and with you facing high levels of competition from clothing brands Downtown, how do you stay competitive? What sets you apart from other luxury clothing brands?
While creating this brand, my whole goal was always to be able to produce something of a good quality that Bahamians can wear and feel good in.
The way that I plan to stay competitive is to just continue being me, sticking to my brand. I plan on giving quality at a good and affordable price. And not just quality but a quality that looks good and feels good and it’s on-trend and it’s hip and its moving with the rest of the world. Streetwear is so big right now.
And you know what, things are so tough in this country; everyone can’t afford to hop on a flight to go and purchase Nike, Adidas, Puma, all those American brands. The EMAJ brand is affordable. We have crop tops and T-shirts starting from 15 or 20 dollars. It’s comfort clothes. I’m catering to entrepreneurs as well. The more entrepreneurs that are created, the more people that want to be comfortable.
I also created a line of jeans that are designed to suck you in and accentuate the butt. I have so many friends that are constantly complaining about not being able to find jeans, I know me, I’m super tall. So I created jeans that I can wear that my sisters can wear. I also try to give a wide range of sizes because you know we love food in The Bahamas. We love to eat.
Some of us are in shape. Some of us aren’t. Some are mothers. We’ve had kids. I wanted to create jeans that are flattering; that make the Bahamian woman sexy!
What was the most key thing for your career as a fashion designer?
The key thing in my career as a fashion designer, a streetwear designer, is just creativity. Creativity and attention to detail.
If you could say something to your past self, what would you say?
Honestly, I’m not really sure what I would say to my past self because in my mind everything that I’ve been through in my life has brought me to this point. It’s my belief that we were all put on this earth with gifts and talents, not for our personal use but to give to the world.
Growing up, I wanted to study fashion from I was a child but my self-esteem was low. I wasn’t confident in who I was but I couldn’t help myself. This is just in me. I’ve done so many things but it’s all a learning experience.
So basically to myself and to everybody else I’d just say just stay true to self and try to find yourself and know who you are, cause that’s the only way you’re going to know what your purpose is and what you’re supposed to be doing here in this life.
What’s next for Emajstyle?
Honestly, just taking it to the world, Bahamas Fashion. Because guess what? In this country, we bursting at the seams with creativity and it’s time that the world truly, truly knows.
From the way we look to the way we act is just so creative and I’m ready to take it to the world. So up next is the official launch of the store in the Elizabeth-on-Bay plaza and the new website www.emajstyle.com. Stay tuned!