Feature
Photo: Charnele Henry, Contributed, Fiona Gordon

Story Highlights

  • Fostering community development through integrated approaches is part of the mandate of the Social Development Commission (SDC). Through its Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP), the SDC has helped countless community groups and individuals turn their passions and ideas into productive grassroots businesses that sustain livelihoods and contribute to economic development and employment.
  • One such grassroots venture is Fiona’s Fashion, based in the Cockpit community in Clarendon.
  • “The SDC’s LEDSP creates a platform that coordinates the activities of all involved in the development process of grassroots businesses. Fiona’s Fashion is one of the noteworthy local economic initiatives within the parish of Clarendon. This enterprise is affiliated to the Cockpit Community Development Committee (CDC) and the proprietor, Fiona Gordon, is currently the President of this organisation that is striving to achieve community empowerment and wealth creation at the local level,” SDC Clarendon Manager, Baldvin McKenzie, tells JIS News. Ms. Gordon’s work with the Cockpit CDC afforded her an association with the SDC, where she learned of the services and assistance available to her through the Commission’s various programmes. In 2012, she decided to capitalise on the opportunity and registered her fashion designing venture, Fiona’s Fashion.

Fostering community development through integrated approaches is part of the mandate of the Social Development Commission (SDC).
Through its Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP), the SDC has helped countless community groups and individuals turn their passions and ideas into productive grassroots businesses that sustain livelihoods and contribute to economic development and employment.

One such grassroots venture is Fiona’s Fashion, based in the Cockpit community in Clarendon.

“The SDC’s LEDSP creates a platform that coordinates the activities of all involved in the development process of grassroots businesses. Fiona’s Fashion is one of the noteworthy local economic initiatives within the parish of Clarendon. This enterprise is affiliated to the Cockpit Community Development Committee (CDC) and the proprietor, Fiona Gordon, is currently the President of this organisation that is striving to achieve community empowerment and wealth creation at the local level,” SDC Clarendon Manager, Baldvin McKenzie, tells JIS News.
Ms. Gordon’s work with the Cockpit CDC afforded her an association with the SDC, where she learned of the services and assistance available to her through the Commission’s various programmes. In 2012, she decided to capitalise on the opportunity and registered her fashion designing venture, Fiona’s Fashion.

“I’ve been doing crochet over 30 years. I started out doing table runners, table cloths, settee covers and then I diversified into slippers, because I bought a slipper once and it burst in no time. Then I started doing swimwear, blouses and skirts. Then I became part of the local economic initiative (LEI) programme and whenever the SDC had events, I had a display, so that people could see what I do,” shares Ms. Gordon.

She explains that the exposure she received from participating in SDC Business Fairs resulted in her getting orders for custom pieces from other communities in the parish and some from as far as Kingston.

Through the LEDSP, Fiona’s Fashion has also benefited from LEI grants valued at $185,000 and a COVID-19 grant of $14,000. These were used to purchase an industrial sewing machine, a bench grinder, leather and balls of crochet thread.

“Over the years, the SDC has assisted me in getting a grant where I have been able to purchase an industrial sewing machine to increase production. Additionally, through SDC, I have been able to finish a business plan and business model where I am now better able to manage the business,” she shares.

The business development training received from the SDC empowered Ms. Gordon to approach other businesses to assist her in training other members of the community, so that they, too, can earn from the craft.

“Based on that, I have written seeking funding from companies, and I have gotten a grant from Digicel. Now, I have been able to teach persons in and around my community the skills that I have learned from watching my mother,” Ms. Gordon adds.

Her students range from age 16 to 65 years old and she shares that persons have commented on the professional look of their work. Miss Gordon has also been able to employ two individuals from Cockpit, Clarendon, to assist with fulfilling the orders that have come in from customers.

Bolstering viable economic enterprises that boost productivity and employment in communities is one reason the Local Economic Development Support Programme was created.

“Integrated community development for the parish of Clarendon will be greatly impacted by the effectiveness and abilities of not just State-run agencies and non-governmental organisations but also the ability of community-based organisations and small and medium enterprises to coordinate and utilise resources to address unemployment challenges,” Mr. McKenzie says.

Crochet slippers produced by Fiona’s Fashion.

“Therefore, the Local Economic Development Support Programme is one avenue that provides real world solutions and opportunities to the residents of Clarendon and Jamaica at large,” he adds.

In addition to swimwear, blouses, skirts and crochet slippers, done-to-order pieces from Fiona’s Fashion include leather slippers, crochet earrings and bags.

Swimsuits are among the top sellers at Fiona’s Fashion.

Ms. Gordon is excited about the future of her business and intends to extend the reach of her creations globally.
“The journey is fun, knowing that you can turn crochet thread into a garment and knowing that when you are finished, you can earn from it; that is a wonderful feeling. It is not just doing crochet and putting it down. You can turn it into a multimillion-dollar business, because you can also export,” she tells JIS News.

“I want to see Fiona’s Fashion on the US market, because swimwear is a hot item overseas and I want to capitalise on that. I am also going to be putting in some new styles of sandals in the coming weeks, so you can look forward for that as well,” Ms. Gordon adds.

Persons interested in custom crochet or leather pieces from Fiona’s Fashion may make contact through Facebook @Fiona.Gordon, on Instagram @fionas_couture or by calling 876-388-5446.

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