Sarah Jane Waddell is the creative mind behind SJW Designs. The Trinidad and Tobago-based brand designs Carnival costumes for people all over the world.
“I don’t feel like I sell costumes,” Waddell told In The Know. “I feel like I sell joy.”
Unlike her competitors in the market, Waddell decided to do things differently. When SJW first launched three years ago, Carnival-wear was not very inclusive to the diverse range of women’s bodies.
“I was very determined to create a product that was versatile and could make any woman feel comfortable,” she told In The Know. “Whether she has big boobs, small boobs, big hips, small hips, you know. Whether she has skin like cocoa or skin like sand, whether she’s young, whether she’s old.”
Carnival is celebrated the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year. The anti-colonial, multicultural event sees thousands flood the streets of the islands in unique costumes to celebrate Caribbean culture. It’s the perfect event to showcase SJW Designs.
The company’s bodysuits use colorful, reflective mirror embellishments in flattering silhouettes. The eye-catching disco ball-inspired adornments sparkle in the Caribbean sun and are sure to show-stop at Carnival. But SJW also has an international clientele. Many customers are happy to wear the looks for different occasions, like vacations, at photoshoots and for special events.
SJW Designs will be celebrating its fourth birthday soon, but Waddell did share some advice for budding business owners. While running a company may look glamorous on social media, it takes a lot of hard work.
“It might seem like it’s just a lot of fun,” Waddell told In The Know. “But the truth is that more often than not, you’re going to see me in my workshop working till 3 a.m. with my hair in a messy bun.”
Waddell credits her team and all the people who advised her along the way for her success. And while she knows that she is lucky, the entrepreneur knows it takes more than luck.
“Beyond luck is grit and resilience,” she said. “I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
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