My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How St. Thomas native Shanaye Monteith is Sewing School Bags to success in 2016

Thursday, December 10, 2015

How St. Thomas native Shanaye Monteith is Sewing School Bags to success in 2016

“I get nervous when I'm to deliver the products. Like, what if they aren't satisfied? But so far, everyone seems to be pleased and it pleases me in return”

21 year old seamstress Shanaye Monteith of Yallahs, St Thomas commenting on her business of making Bags 

After Christmas it'll be New Year 2016. And what better way to start the New Year than with a New School Bag. But with school bags being made of plastic, one is hard-pressed to find a School bag made by hand in Jamaica from high quality material.

This is what makes the 21 year old seamstress Shanaye Monteith of Yallahs, St Thomas so fascinating as noted in the article “Young St Thomas woman blazes a trail in bag making”, published Thursday December 10, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The young gifted artisan is doing something that's rather rare in Jamaica; making school bags.

The bags are hand-made from various materials and come in the colour the owner orders. Many of her creations thus far resemble school bags and she does other styles of bags that can be carried anywhere.

But natural artiste never originally made school bags, but rather had an artistic inclination that was discovered by accident. So far, she has sold some ten (10) bags and is going strong to quote Shanaye Monteith: “Since then, I've sold about 10 of the bags, which is amazing seeing that I didn't plan for this”.

Albeit the economy is slow, she still keeps herself occupied making bow ties. So how did this St. Thomas native get into the business of making knapsacks?

Shanaye Monteith, maker of knapsacks – How to use YouTube to make school Bags

It all started with a challenge from a friend to make bag to quote Shanaye Monteith:  “I was creating things such as paintings, crafty houses and picture frames from fudge sticks, and once I even tried to sew a jacket. Upon completing the jacket, I showed my friend and she was very pleased and asked if I could make her a bag. At first, it just seemed like a crazy joke, but then I began putting some thought into it and then decided that I would give it a try”.

Albeit taken aback, Shanaye Monteith was up to the challenge, searching the Internet, especially YouTube for Bag Designs and patterns, to quote Shanaye Monteith: “I started sourcing the materials needed to make the bag, then searched Google for various styles. After I went on YouTube to watch a few videos and then began working on the bag”.

This is what originally sparked my interest in this article, as YouTube and other instructables websites possess a wealth of information from which one can make products.

There are even tools online that allow you to sell your creations online such as Etsy and Ebay as noted in my blog article entitled “How to make money as an EBay Seller online - Everything in Jamaica from Rare Coins to Unique Craft Items”.

So one can imagine her surprise when after making her bag, she began getting orders for her creations to quote Shanaye Monteith: “They began telling me that they need one of my bags and described the colours that they would prefer it in. It was so surreal. It wasn't a part of my plan to sell the bags or anything, but my sister, being the business-minded person she is, took front row. I'm very shy when it comes on to certain things, but she began sending the pictures of my creations to her friends, encouraging them to buy”.

A big part of the reason why she does so well is her sister, who has now taken up the business side of managing her sister's new found source of income: “She's very motivating. Even when I think the bag isn't coming out the way I had imagined and become frustrated, angered and on the brink of giving up, my sister encourages me to exercise my creative mind and has me persevere 'til it's done”.

It's rare to see someone that is so creative that she can look at videos and websites on the internet online and begin to make something that is sorely need in Jamaica; hand crafted Bags. I myself am in need of a bag but I fear purchasing one Downtown, as they seem to be mainly made of plastic.

Hopeful she’ll get the assistance that she needs to sell her creations online as well as the manufacturing assistance to mass produce her design and literally have her future sewn up in a bag for 2016!

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