Here is our next 'Bahamian Women Rock' feature.... The beautiful, talented and courageous Kencovia Jean-Baptiste.
We hope that her story inspires you......Read PART 1 of her story below:
1. Give us a brief describe about yourself and your business.
I was born and raised on the island of New Providence, The Bahamas. My name is Kencovia Jean-Baptiste, and my story begins about 25 years ago. As a little girl growing up, I was surrounded by a family that embraced their natural creative abilities. My uncle would often use me as his muse whenever he decided to paint on the back patio. My grandmother cooked and baked every day. When I was old enough and could handle a scissors without injuring myself, I would often assist my aunt and mother with folding and cutting patterns. When I was not cutting out garment patterns, I was cutting out cushion patterns. And on most weekends, my mother and I would sit down and design bead patterns for jewelry making. Fine artistry, cooking, baking, fashion designing, home decorating, and jewelry making were all an absolute norm.
Naturally, one would think the next step would have been to attend a creative university right? Quite the opposite. In 2005, I attended Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism. Yet, over the years, I constantly found myself in a nostalgic mode that would nudge me to make a quick run to the craft store to make something that would fulfill my creative itch. There was nothing that made me feel more satisfied. Not to mention, I’ve always wanted to start my own handmade jewelry business.
A few years later, I relocated to the United States and found myself setting goals to achieve just that. In the pursuit of purpose and passion, in January of 2016, I was enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Atlanta), one of the most prestigious fashion and creative arts colleges in the world. In 2018, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Luxury and Fashion Management, while still maintaining my wifely and motherly duties.
Now, one year later, ken.co.via Unique Artisan Jewelry is truly a labor of love. It is a permanent fix to revisiting those nostalgic feelings; it is a direct homage to my island lifestyle and creative lineage, and a continuation of what started as a growing bond to a mother-daughter relationship.
Ken.co.via Unique Artisan Jewelry creates handmade jewelry and accessories. Our collections always tell a story, but we are equally passionate about our patrons embracing and expressing their unique self through bold and eccentric pieces. The use of polymer clay, allows us to specialize in producing one-of-a-kind collections and customized pieces. It also allows us to explore color variations, patterns, and textures that continue to tell my story and the story of the unique self. I take these moments, craft them, and share them with the world.
2. What is the best advice someone told you?
“Only attach your gifts to vehicles that are moving in a forward-upward direction…always!”
3. What is the best advice you can give other women in the community?
A huge part of my brand is celebrating the ‘unique self’ that we all possess. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but does it matter what the “beholder” thinks if you personally don’t believe that you are beautiful? I encourage women to speak life into their own selves, positively affirming and loving everything about who they are. Then by paying this action forward, and sincerely affirming other women and young girls that will create better relationships within the community.
It is also important to seek purpose and passion. Most times these two go hand in hand. Individuals recognize that their passion is in fact their divine purpose in life. What an amazing feeling it is to be able to discover and explore this in your own way. Times have changed, and many of us have changed with the times. But you would be doing yourself a disservice if you do not set personal growth goals for yourself. It can be as small as a mustard seed, but the important thing is that you continue to discover and explore yourself, push yourself forward, complete goals, create new ones…repeat
4. What accomplishment in your career to date are you most proud of?
When I enrolled to begin my Master’s degree journey, I was very concerned about how it would affect my family. One year into the program, I felt torn and questioned if I should take a break. But with the support of my loving husband and family, I decided to continue and complete it. This two-year journey was the beginning of the development of my brand, because I used each course (vehicle) to map out each aspect of my brand and to move this ‘idea’ into something tangible. I’m not sure if I would have started my brand if I did not complete the two-year journey. So, now I give myself grace and gratitude upon my completion and I’m so proud of the amazing fruit that it has produced.