When I was in Grenada staying at beloved Laluna boutique resort, I popped into a really sweet shop called Veronica’s Visions in St George’s, which sold fabulous screen-printed garments and bags. Now, this is an island on the cruise-ship circuit – but stay at a romantic hotel like Laluna and venture to this little retail gem and you’d barely ever notice.
I was bowled over by this upscale shack of non-commercial, un-mass-produced goods that really capture the geography and history of this fine Caribbean spice island. (Ok, and the snifters of rum samples helped warmed the cockles.)
Not only are the screen-printed designs inspired by the local nutmeg plant so striking, but the fact they are handmade using old-fashioned screens right there in the backyard of studio is pretty special. I bought a really cute cotton dress, as donned – pardon the destination-name-dropping – on a holiday in South Africa. There’s me wearing it (left). But as I received so many compliments on that dress that I wanted ask its creator about her inspiration for these unique clothes and accessories.
And this is what Jessie-Ann Veronica Jessamy told me (pictured below)…
Our products were created out of a need to record and document the history of the rural lifestyle of Grenada, the isle of spice. Most stories told are from a different eye other than from the daily life of the islanders – farmers, mostly. The nutmeg or spicewear slogan is ‘eat, wear, think and be spice’. To ‘be spice’ is to interpret the social stories and culture that has developed over the last 100 years through the economic contributions of nutmegs.
The nutmeg is part of the ‘plantocracy period’ – or the peasant movement. There was a distinct practice – tools and craft, a dress code, food, and harvest festivals – that are still part of our nutmeg, banana and cocoa culture – the three main crops traditionally farmed for commercial value. Our products celebrate that period and the rustic nature of our colour scheme is a reflection as are the styles of peasant, home-maker dresses and shirts.
And – call me shallow – but they look mighty nice, too. Who says you can’t be fashionable and responsible? Grenada was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 – and hearing how badly its economy was damaged is heartbreaking. The least we tourists and boutique-hotel lovers can do is buy local goods as souvenirs when we’re there – and spread the word to others to do the same. So nutmeg it up, people!
Veronica’s Visions, St George’s, Grenada
(1 473 444 8456)