Written by Chantel DaCosta

My SVG: Donella Power

donella-power

Vincentian bag lady creates bespoke accessories for the fashion forward.

Donella Power is a twentysomething designer who is committed to making unique accessories and handbags. The young designer started in 2011 under the name Donella’s Creations. And in 2016, she rebranded her offering as Awali.

Known for her amiable character and involvement in youth organisations, this designer has big plans for her future. Today we get a glimpse into her life in SVG.

Describe St Vincent and the Grenadines in three words.

Traditional, promising, and serene

Which area are you from?

Calder Ridge in the parish of St. George

What two words best describe the Awali brand?

Unique and versatile.

awali-wristlet

What inspired that name?

Awali loosely translates from Kiswahili/ Swahili to original in the English language.  I sold my pieces from inception under the name of “Donella’s Creations” and decided to change this. My rebrand to Awali came from a need to show the diversity in my products. I wanted to portray a unique identity from the name all the way down to the end product.

When did you start designing?

Designing for me started back in high school. I learned how to make a bag in 2nd form and enjoyed making new bags whenever a new trend came about. If I had t-shirts that were too big then I would sit down and hand stitch it to make it fit better. However, I loved making bags more and would research different styles that I could try out.

What is your vision for Awali?

My vision for Awali is to be known as a regional brand providing luxury and durable handmade bags as well as apparel and other accessories.

awali

Describe your design and creative process.

My main goal is to satisfy each customer’s needs. Therefore, each design begins with a customer’s specification or existing trends that potential customers would normally ask for in an item. Each bag is made from a pattern that is carefully planned with handpicked materials. Everything is completely thought out before the bag is put together. In regards to apparel, my main influence is St Vincent and the Grenadines. I especially think about a person’s comfort and our vibrant culture so I normally pick cotton print material that features a tropical or cultural theme.

What advice would you give other young upcoming fashion designers?

I encourage upcoming designers to try their very best to perfect their craft and focus on what they do best.

What is your favourite traditional dish, and why?

My favourite would have to be steamed provision with buljol. And it must have coconut dumplings as well. This is something I would normally have growing up in the country side and I absolutely love dumplings. Whenever my tanty, who I grew up with, cooks she makes sure to tell me if dumplings are in it or not because she knows I’ll be disappointed if none are.

What is your favourite childhood memory?

My favourite memory as a child would have to be spending school vacations in Mustique with my mother. I always enjoyed the calmness and freedom of the island.

Where did you attend high school?

I attended the St. Vincent Girls’ High School.

What was your favourite subject in high school?

My favourite subject was Principles of Accounts.

Which local activist/personality do you admire the most, and why?

One person I admire is Basil Charles. I admire his growth from an island boy who worked hard to build an established household name in SVG and internationally.

What is your favourite restaurant?

The restaurant at Beachcombers Hotel.

What major developments would you like to see happen in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the next 20 years?

In the next 20 years, I hope to see SVG develop its tourism offerings. One major development would be an operational  five-star resort, an increase in our nightlife facilities as well as other activities that would encourage more visitors, especially to the mainland. I also believe that our healthcare systems should be improved by then with up-to-date facilities and equipment.

What projects are you excited about?

I am excited for the positive direction of our international airport and SVG welcoming more direct international flights. There are also talks of the Buccament Bay Resort being back up and running soon, I’m looking forward to that as well.

Where would you recommend as a ‘must go’ to a first time visitor to SVG?

As a first-time visitor, I would recommend that one must get a speedboat ride and visit Bequia so that they can see the Moonhole and visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.

Considering a staycation, where in SVG is your favourite place to unwind and recharge?

My absolute favourite place to unwind and recharge is on Mustique. It is an extremely calm island away from all the everyday bustle of mainland St Vincent.

You can follow Donella and her unique bags on Instagram @_awali.

 

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