Meet Symerna Blake, the self-taught artist behind the Antillean Charm Collection. She has created a proudly Jamaican collection of handmade and hand-painted Ceramic Flora and Fauna mounted tastefully in shadow boxes (also made by her).
Her pieces are stunningly life-like and make unique and classy wall decor and gifts.
The current collections are: Wild Orchids of the World, Hummingbirds of the Americas and Flowers of Jamaica.
Symerna's story is particularly inspiring to me for a few reasons:
1.People mistake her for me ALL the time. She often jokes that she is kindly asking me to be on my best behaviour so that the cases of mistaken identity will never result in her harm
2. She attended my Alma Mater (The Excellent St. Jago High School)
3. I am so proud of the fact that she is SELF-TAUGHT! Just like her I veered far from my professional training and experiences when I started my first business.
4. Symerna recently "Jumped off into Amazing" and said goodbye to the 9 to 5 world. Just like moi.
She eloquently sums up how she 'ended' up an artist: “First I painted with words. For ten years, I worked in broadcasting, education, marketing and public relations. But there was something else I wanted to do. I wanted to create; to exercise my design instinct; to work with my hands. Antillean Charm is the result of years of sketching on the backs of project folders, using my vacation days to hang out in workshops and hoarding art supplies.
"As for artistic inspiration, I am completely enchanted by our magnificent planet. Nature is God’s masterpiece. It is art. With the shadow boxes, I pay tribute to our natural heritage in the style of traditional nature illustrations. With the multi-dimension of ceramic sculpture, my art offers the experience of the actual flora and fauna thriving in your living and workspace. I want collectors to stop and marvel at all the beauty we have been blessed with.”
Right before our eyes, her art has quickly become collector's items, gracing homes from Jamaica to Japan.
Her Secret Life as a Wood Whisperer
It is one thing to read Symerna's story and quite another to watch her at work in her studio. I ended up having the privilege of visiting her space on a couple of occasions. The backstory itself is a testament to her responsiveness as an artisan and a businesswoman and to her amazing and rounded talent!
In one of my lives I make hats and fascinators. My cousin (and business partner) and I needed a wooden hat block made. Hat blocks are pretty pricey and their weight make them even pricier to import. So i made a post on Facebook asking for reommendations for a great carpenter. Lo and behold, Symerna responded to my post asking what seemed like very 'carpentery' questions...which I could not answer. She then took to teaching me. At which point she mentioned that she could assist, much to my surprise. I knew of Symerna's 9 to 5 at the time and it was in marketing! Long story short, Symerna excellently made our hat block, giving us stellar service along the way. She is one of our preferred provider of wooden products and will remain so.
It does my heart exceptionally proud to see a real GIRL BOSS excelling in her craft (a traditionally male-dominated craft, I might add). She truly inspires me with her testimonies of God's provision especially in this tumultuous self-employed phase of her life. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey; a treacherous journey. To see Symerna thriving and glowing in purpose, all while bearing a physical resemblance to me; reminds me on my journey that I will be OK.
Glow on Sister Girl! Glow on.
Check out her collection antilleancharm.com/
Kamala P. McWhinney is God's Idea. I am academic, I am creative,I am dreamer. My name is Hindu for Lotus. Given the beautiful symbolism of the Lotus Flower I have embraced it as a metaphor for my evolving, my surviving and my thriving.