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Scraps of cloth, pebbles and bits of paper might seem like junk to most people, but not for Petula Angelique Auguste Du Bois.
She is what some people might call a true artisan and sees these items as raw materials for her next project. You can often find her at her home in Mt Lambert tinkering with her latest find, looking for ways to make these forgotten items into mind-blowing art.
Du Bois is the ex-wife of soca star Kerwin Du Bois and they have one son together. She enjoys showing others her craft and creativity. A background in fashion design helps. Du Bois put her dreams of owning her own business on the “back-burner” and decided to work her way up the corporate ladder. Her tenacity and zeal landed her a job at Waitrose Food, Fashion and Home, one of the biggest department stores in London. She spent several years in England and etched her name as a team player, problem-solver and fashion guru for all the latest trends.
After going through a divorce and then the untimely passing of her father recently, Du Bois felt as if she was losing bits and pieces of herself. Though her job was rewarding, Du Bois says she felt unhappy.
Longing to come back to Trinidad and the place she grew up; gave Du Bois the extra push she needed to pack up her things and go back home.
She said, “I have always been a creative person. There is nothing I can’t do with my hands; my hands are my life. I started making jewelry while I was in London in 2013 to bring in extra money. The extra money I made, I would buy accessories for my jewelry; be it bits of wood, glass, semiprecious stones and fabrics to also make my wraps, straps and bags.”
Du Bois admits she also did locs as a loctician to further supplement her income since she had four boys to raise.
Her children are now all grown and, at 51, Du Bois says she is turning a next chapter in her life. She came back to Trinidad in 2014. She hoped it would be an easy transition but there were quite a few hiccups along the way.
Facing a tough economy; having to move from place to place, Du Bois says things looked bleak.
She said, “I got a room at a guesthouse on Luis Street, Woodbrook. Things started to get better as my living environment was more comfortable and I could then focus on work which was still not picking up the way I expected. My cousin then told me he found another place for me to work which was across the road from where I lived. I was so happy to take up the offer I started there almost immediately. My clients did not want to come to my new location in Woodbrook, so it was back to square one handing out flyers and call cards.”
From bad to worse
Before her father’s passing, Du Bois says he encouraged her to moved back home in Mt Lambert and start her business. She says at the time she did not take it too seriously.
She said, “Apart from doing hair in Woodbrook, I am a representative for Sandalias Apparel (which is owned by her cousin). I asked the manager where I was working in the salon if I could display the sandals and also some of my products, she agreed. A week before Christmas 2014, I was robbed and everything I had there was taken and yes, it was back to square one.”
She said, “I started attending the Upmarkets and building my clientele for doing hair and selling my products. It started to pick up by the Grace of God but my savings was going and I had to work harder and longer hours. I was struggling to pay my rent so I gave up the work station. The manager was so nice she told me if I still needed to use the work station, it would be a small fee on a daily basis. I started working more on my jewelry, bags and sandals. My father lived in Mt Lambert and said I should come and live with him. He would pick me up once a week and one time when we spoke he said, he had a spare room and I could utilise the space in the drawing room since nobody was using it. I really was dubious about moving there because I was wondering if my clients would come so far to do their hair and purchase any of my products. Things was starting to get very hard and yes I cried everyday thinking what the hell I am doing here.”
Despite the hardships, Du Bois knew she could not give up.
Never give up
She said, “I love being in Trinidad and I am a fighter, I prayed all day every day for strength to hold my head up, things must get better I can’t give up.”
Du Bois planned to tell her father she would take him up on his offer but his passing was so sudden she was unable to do so.
She said, “After the funeral my stepmother asked me to move in and so I did. It was still very hard to do this move since I did not know if clients would come this far. I had no more savings to go back to London even if I wanted to but I felt my father’s presence and I knew I couldn’t give up what I came out here to do.”
“I had to follow my heart. I have always been passionate about my goals and wanting to succeed so I could not entertain thoughts of defeat. I am proud to have my own business Petulique Fashions. The style I carry is urban ethnic, sophisticated and stylish. When I look and feel fabrics I get excited as I know what I want to do with them straight away. The items I carry include my homemade essential oils for natural hair, handbags, sandals and jewelry. My jewelry is exclusive I try not to make up the same piece twice. I make earrings, necklaces, chokers, bracelets and anklets. I use anything that draws attention, cording, it could be from leather, suede lace, nylon threads, crochet treads, soft flex beading wire, elastic cord, wooden beads, semiprecious stones, plastic beads, and glass beads. To finish the items, I may use silver, copper, lobster claws hooks, jump rings, sterling sliver crimp beads, wire guardian, and crimp covers. Some pieces could take 10-15 minutes while other pieces could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 days; sometimes even a week depending on what I’m making,” she said.
Faith to go on
Petulique Boutique has been in existence for the past three years, though the business has had its fair share of ups and downs, Du Bois says she prays every day; keeps herself busy and stays focused.
She said, “Learning to love myself and not giving up no matter how much trials and tribulations I go through, I know I’ve come back to Trinidad and Tobago to do me. I will continue to hold my head high and give thanks for life that I am able to get up every day and run four, five, six or even seven miles on a good day around the savannah.”
Having your own business is no easy feat, Du Bois says, but if you do decide to become an entrepreneur have a business plan ready; be sure this is what you want to do; give yourself a time scale that you can set your goals. Overall be prepared financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, she said.Read more at:pink prom dresses