“You want to earn money and be successful. Think harder, think deeper and think longer”
The hostility of this seemingly harmless vexed-face man departed when he handed me a bag. The wrinkles in his forehead softened as he anticipated my response to his unexpected gift.
‘Love You’ was the messaged stitched into the bottom of the vibrant flotsam and fishing net accessory. I pulled up a dilapidated chair, steady enough to serve some purpose and excitedly expressed, “Wow! Do you know how much these bags would go for in London?”.
“Of course, that’s why my things cost $100 US dollar!”, he boldly replied, resting his head against the decaying texture of an abandoned wooden hut.
Meet Jacob Scott, a forthright Vincentian artisan who turns washed up trash into treasure.
Armoured with a silver thimble and needle, he painstakingly patches together his finds and transforms them into things that forward-thinking fashion followers would covet. Before I could inform him of this fact, he continued.
“All of them love my things. I have been featured in all of those fashion magazines, like Vogue”. My bags go all over the world, stocked in a lot of shops, but I like it here, I don’t want to work for nobody, I like making my bags on my own time and letting them go and sell it to the famous people”.
I quickly established that Jacob is my kind of guy. He knows that the value in his bags, made with disregarded materials, is in his ability to skillfully labour for hours. What’s more, he’s not afraid to show it. You can count on him to pull out his plastic folder of tearsheets from high-end fashion magazines. The kind that up-and-coming designers only dream about.
In societies opinion, Jacob has nothing. No elaborate pillars on a massive concrete house or the latest mod cons and four-wheel drive. No fancy shop front on a promenade with printed price tags and nautical fixtures.
In my opinion, Jacob has it all. He owns his time. And he knows that his time is worth money. He understands how crucial his role is in the production line and never lets the buyer shortchange his efforts. By simply setting up a station anywhere he sees fit and executing his work, he is a walking PR machine which allows his talent to do all the talking. Without any daily access to Pinterest boards and IG feeds full of inspiration, he still manages to make a full range of applique, and embroidery originals that you’d be hard-pushed to find anywhere else in the world.
When the tired chair legs could no longer withstand my weight, and it was time to leave, I asked Jacob to share a piece of his wisdom with me.
“If you want to stand out and get the dollars you have to think different. I didn’t become this popular by making things everybody makes. I did my research. I travelled all over the Caribbean and watched what most of the people making stuff for tourist were doing. I realised they were all making the same thing, and the tourist is fed up of seeing it.
When I left the fishing business and had to figure out a way to earn a living, I knew I couldn’t come up with the same thing. So I sat down by the beach and looked at the things washed up from the sea and decided to do something with it. Things that people throw away as rubbish, I take it and make the beautiful craft.
You want to earn money and be successful. Think harder, think deeper and think longer. These days people are all about fast money, fast things, five minutes of fame. They don’t want to work for the success or the longevity. And let me tell you, quick things don’t last.
Those who toil through the trails and tribulations of the trade will stand the test of time.”
Unique hand-stitched bags by Jacob Scott are sold at Art Upstairs Gallery Cafe on the corner of The Carenage and Young Street in St. George’s, Grenada.
Yours Truly Kiki
Photography by Terel Moore