Yello Interviews: Artist and Fashion Designer Rihanna Phillips, Founder of ‘RiDesigned by Rihanna’
by Karen Rollins Feb 27, 2023
Rihanna Phillips, 20, started her entrepreneurial journey during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, she utilised her artistic talent and interest in resin to make keychains and earrings. But eventually Rihanna decided to rebrand and switched to hand painting tote bags and bucket hats with a particular focus on anime characters.
Now, Rihanna has found her niche, and is building a community around her unique creations. Yello asked Rihanna to share her business story.
Please describe yourself using three words.
Funny. Creative. Passionate.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born in Barbados to a Guyanese mother and Bajan father. I grew up mostly in St George.
I attended St Judes Primary School and then Springer Memorial Secondary which is where I really discovered that I loved sewing and creating.
I grew up in a very rowdy household, with two brothers and sisters to always keep me company, but with lots of siblings came damaged clothing, so I have memories of always sewing back on buttons for my brothers.
One memory I also clearly recall is when I was in Class 4 and an MP came to our school. He asked all of us what we wanted to be when we were older, and I said, “a seamstress”, but as time went on, I changed it to fashion designer. So, my initial plan was to be a designer and make a name for myself in Barbados.
With my career path cemented, I attended Barbados Community College where I majored in fashion design and graduated with an associate degree.
When did you launch your business ‘RiDesigned by Rihanna’?
I launched my business in 2020 during the pandemic but, at first, I wasn’t doing what I am doing now because I was really into resin crafting. So, I researched it and bought all the necessary materials to make keychains and earrings.
However, I slowly lost my love for resin crafting, so decided to rebrand and transitioned into handmaking tote bags and bucket hats.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business? How did you overcome it?
With my first business it was really challenging gaining traction for my IG page and receiving orders, but since rebranding I have found a way to connect with a niche audience. So, now I am slowly gaining customers and building a small community.
Please tell us more about the items you currently offer.
Currently, we offer handmade and hand painted tote bags and bucket hats. Many of our products cater to anime and K-pop lovers. I am in the process of creating new items to add to the shop.
Where do you get inspiration from for your designs?
A lot of my inspiration comes from my love of anime, manga, and K-pop.
What are your plans for your business over the next 12-18 months?
My plan is to gain more traction for my business and even start selling in a store that caters to the anime community. I also want to attend more pop-up events.
I also plan for ‘Ridesigned by Rihanna’ to go international soon.
What advice do you have for other Caribbean artists / small business owners?
Having a business isn’t easy; some days will be bad, some will be great, but keep pushing through. Greater things will come for your business and those bad days will be worth it especially for your growth. Just stay positive!
What do you love about Barbados?
I love the beach! I was once a national water polo player so I have always loved swimming and I wouldn’t trade our clear waters and beautiful beaches for anything.
I also love our culture and how a lot of our traditions are still standing today.
What is your motto in life?
My motto is ‘if you risk nothing, you gain nothing’. I apply this mantra to my business because if I didn’t take the chance of putting myself out into the world with my business, I wouldn’t have the joy I get from selling my products and making my customers happy.
If a film was made of your life, what would it be called, and which actor would play you?
‘Beyond The Seams’ or ‘The Disastrous Life of Rihanna’. I would probably be played by Simone Ashley.
You can contact Rihanna about her products via the following channels:
Instagram – @ridesignedbyrihanna
TikTok – @ridesignedbyrihanna
Contact – +1246 283 2763